About Guide Dogs of the Desert
Blindness is a disability that can strike anyone – at any moment, with devastating results. There are increasing numbers of Americans that have lost their vision due to an accident, at birth, or to complications associated with aging, coronary disease, diabetes, glaucoma and macular degeneration. This loss of vision predominantly leads to an individual’s loss of mobility, freedom, and independence.
Since 1972, Guide Dogs of the Desert has made a difference in the lives of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Over the past 45 years, more than 1,400 client/guide dog teams from around the country have graduated from Guide Dogs of the Desert – enjoying richer, fuller, and more productive lives. Attending a 28-day in-residence training on the Guide Dogs of the Desert campus, the blind individual is matched with the highest-quality guide dog that is custom trained to the individual’s personal needs and home environment—all at no cost to the client—thanks to financial supporters like you. Because of this founding philosophy, class sizes are small assuring individualized training for optimal success as a team. It is you who makes it possible for Guide Dogs of the Desert to provide these individuals with custom-trained guide dogs that deliver the gift of new found confidence, independence, safe mobility, and infinite smiles.
Guide Dogs of the Desert is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, totally reliant on philanthropy from individuals, foundations, corporations, and service clubs. We do not receive any state or federal funding.
Executive Director’s Message – September 2018
“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light, and safer than a known way.’” – Mary Louise Haskins
This quote is engraved on a plaque within St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. When I reflected upon it, Guide Dogs of the Desert immediately came to mind – our mission and our students – trained to “grasp and trust the Harness of God” – the equipment a guide dog wears – that, in turn, gives the student the promised light for safe mobility, companionship and freedom.
The miraculous work that transpires from the time the guide dog puppies are born into the breeding program until graduation is attributable to three distinct groups that represent the hand of God:
Our Valued Donors. Guide Dogs of the Desert is totally reliant on private sector funding. It is by the most generous support from the many funders that makes every component of a successful guide dog team possible – from the breeding of the highest quality service dog, to Puppy Raiser classes, ongoing canine medical care, continued education and training for the staff who care and train the dogs for the blind… YOU are the hand of God that gives a safe known way for those we serve, like Robert and Bandit, John and Charlie.
Our Valued Volunteers. This publication holds the names of the volunteers who have given five or more years of service to Guide Dogs of the Desert. The Puppy Raisers, that foster and provide socializing and training the puppies; Area Coordinators who work with our trainers to coordinate the monthly puppy get-togethers; Breeder Keepers for caring for the breeding dogs; Ambassadors – give of their time representing Guide Dogs at events and speaking engagements; and the Administrative/Kennel Volunteers who serve around the campus in a variety of duties. They are the hand of God in the light they provide to the puppies and community.
Our Valued Staff. From Kennel Staff, to the Guide Dog Mobility Trainers, to Directors and Supervisors that oversee the Breeding, Canine Development and Client Training Programs – the Class Chef and Dorm Manager… Administrative and Fundraising Staff that ensures everything is operational and funds are secured for the mission… everyone plays a contributing role and, directly or indirectly, touches the success of each Guide Dog Team that graduates and “goes out into the darkness with their hand on the Harness of God, for light and safety.”
Thank YOU for being the hand of God and for the joy and renewed confidence of mobility that becomes a new way of life for the students when their guide dog safely walks them around unseen obstacles, crossing a busy intersection, and even in their quiet, reciprocal companionship at the end of a busy day. You make a life of mobility possible!
Sarah G. Clapp
Guide Dogs of the Desert provides custom trained guide dogs for the blind, and for those with special needs, for safe mobility, companionship, and independence.
Founded 45 years ago, Guide Dogs of the Desert adheres to the premise that every legally blind person should have the opportunity to utilize a guide dog, including those with multiple disabilities. Because of this commitment, class sizes are small and focus on the individual needs of each client.
Many clients lost their sight at birth, through a life altering accident, or have progressive eye diseases. Acquiring a guide dog can be life changing, providing a renewed sense of freedom and confidence, and the ability to partake in everyday activities that many take for granted.
All of the above is provided at NO COST to the clients we serve.
Guide Dogs of the Desert is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation.
Guide Dogs of the Desert was founded in 1972 with the goal to provide quality guide dogs to the blind and the multi-handicapped blind. With the help of the Cathedral City Lions Club, Guide Dogs of the Desert was incorporated and licensed under California State Law and the Department of Consumer Affairs.
By 1975 Guide Dogs of the Desert leased a two-bedroom house with a detached garage located on the current school property.
In 1976, several individual members of Canyon Country Club in Palm Springs, California backed the purchase of the property and renovations commenced. The demand for specialized guide dog training and individualized instruction soon required larger facilities.
In 1982, Lions Club members, local businesses and a grant from the Lions Club International Foundation served to expand the kennels and dormitory. The adjoining six acres was purchased to provide for future expansion.
An additional five acres was purchased in 1995 for the development of a breeding facility and additional kennels.
Student housing was completed in the fall of 1997, with accommodations for 12 students. The dormitory was designed with the input of students and graduates. The facility offers single bedrooms for each student with a shared bathroom for every two students. There is also an auditorium with a kitchen and a dining room. The dorm also has a recreation room equipped with a talking computer with Internet access, exercise equipment, musical instruments and a television. Microwaves and laundry equipment are also available.
An additional kennel was built in 1998, made possible by the Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation. This facility is used strictly for the care of breeding dogs and their puppies.