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 – January 2019
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” – Will Rogers
What an incredibly humbling honor it is to be the incoming Executive Director for the Guide Dogs of the Desert. The agency is fortunate to have been under the guidance of Sarah Clapp the past five years. She has done a wonderful job leading the agency. We are definitely a better agency because of her!
So how did I end up as the new Executive Director for the Guide Dogs of the Desert? Out of law school I went to work for the Office of the Attorney General in Florida where I handled civil prosecutions of parents accused of abusing, abandoning or neglecting their children. As you can imagine, this is challenging work. After several years, I was recruited to run a nonprofit in Florida that provided services to victims of child abuse. It was here that I learned the value and importance of giving back to the community. I eventually relocated to Los Angeles where I ran a nonprofit that provided support services for victims of domestic violence. I spent about 16 years in Los Angeles before deciding to move to the desert.
I have been visiting the desert every year since moving to LA. Each time I found it harder and harder to leave. And, my uncle and his wife have lived here for over 30 years ,which helped me make the decision to permanently move here. What a great decision — I love it here!
The only piece missing for me was the perfect job. Clearly that problem has been solved! From the beginning I have been endlessly impressed with Guide Dogs of the Desert. On my first day I attended a training for employees of other agencies that work with the blind. During the training they shared a story of how one of our guide dogs completely changed the life of one of our clients. I am not ashamed to admit that the story brought me to tears. What a profound impact we have for our clients.
And we couldn’t do it without the support of so many. We are grateful and appreciative for all the support you have given us. Together we can carry on the great work of this agency. I look forward to the journey.
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.