Guide Dogs for the Blind Info



Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) is a nonprofit, charitable organization that was established in 1942 to provide a safe means of mobility for people who are blind and visually impaired. GDB is the largest Guide Dog school in the country, and continues its dedication to quality student training services and extensive follow-up support for graduates. Our programs are made possible through the teamwork of staff, volunteers and generous donors. GDB receives no government funds. Services are provided to students from the United States and Canada at no cost to them. We operate two training facilities (one is headquartered in San Rafael, California—20 miles north of San Francisco, another in Boring, Oregon—25 miles east of Portland), and have more than 2,000 volunteer puppy raising families throughout the Western states. The Pleasanton Puppy Raisers are one of many volunteer clubs working to support the work of Guide Dogs for the Blind. More than 15,000 teams have graduated since our founding, and there are approximately 2,200 active guide dog teams currently in the field. 


It all began with a dream—the dream of creating the first guide dog training school on the West Coast. It was a dream shared by Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson who volunteered their efforts along with many others. They recognized the need to help wounded servicemen who would return from World War II without their sight. They believed in the potential of dogs to serve as guides for the blind.

Merrihew and Donaldson incorporated our school in May of 1942 and began instruction of students in a rented home in Los Gatos, California (south of San Jose). A German Shepherd named Blondie, who had been rescued from a Pasadena dog pound, was one of the first dogs trained. Blondie was later paired with Sgt. Leonard Foulk, the first serviceman to graduate from the new school.

In 1947, GDB moved to our present location in San Rafael, California, about 20 miles north of San Francisco. In order to meet the increasing demand for our services, we opened a second campus in Boring, Oregon (25 miles east of Portland), in the Fall of 1995. The first class of students graduated from the Pacific Northwest campus in October of that year.


Guide Dogs for the Blind empowers lives by creating exceptional partnerships between people, dogs, and communities.

Vision Statement

Guide Dogs for the Blind envisions a world with greater inclusion, opportunity and independence by optimizing the unique capabilities of people and dogs.

Values and Behaviors

Guide Dogs for the Blind is one organization, with one set of values, operating in multiple locations. We are aligned around a common vision and mission and hold ourselves and each other responsible for operating by the following values and behaviors:


  • Ensure that every action or decision is aligned with GDB’s commitment to the mission
  • Provide superior service across all aspects of the organization


  • Demonstrate accountability, transparency (except when confidentiality applies), and honesty with all actions and decisions
  • Act with and assume positive intent


  • Treat every being with dignity and sensitivity
  • Balance professionalism with humor


  • Encourage open communication
  • Practice proactive, thoughtful and inclusive interactions


  • Promote personal development and self-reliance
  • Support learning and innovation through risk-taking

Contact Info

Guide Dogs Website

Phone Number: 800-295-4050

National Headquarters Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 151200
San Rafael, California 94915-1200