Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind

General Information

Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind
371 East Jericho Turnpike
Smithtown, NY 11787-2976
(631) 930 9000

Brief Description

Runs a Puppy Walker Volunteer Program in which volunteer families socialize puppies from 7 weeks to 12 months of age. Guidance is provided by our puppy advisors and puppy program manager.


John Miller, President and CEO

Brad Hibbard, Director of Training,

Grete Eide, Chief Canine Care Officer,

Laura English, Chief Finance Officer,

Andrew Rubenstein, Director of Marketing,

Katherine Fritz, Director of Development,

Services Offered

  • Consultation/Technical Program Assistance
    • Offers tours/demonstrations to members of professional organizations such as teachers of visually impaired students, agency personnel, and orientation and mobility instructors.

  • Counseling
    • We carefully listen to each incoming student and work to match them with the right dog, so as they graduate as a team, they are ready to take on new challenges with a greater sense of independence. Our campus in Smithtown, New York provides an environment where students can learn safely with caring instructors. We pursue excellence in everything we do, working tirelessly to develop innovative training methods that advance the lives of all our guide dog teams.

  • Information and Referral
    • People who are visually impaired or who have other disabilities face additional challenges every day in their desire to live independently. Since 1946, the Guide Dog Foundation has provided guide and service dogs, free of charge, to qualified people who seek the increased freedom, mobility, and companionship these dogs bring. With the help of the Guide Dog Foundation, a person who is blind or has low vision can achieve greater independence when they are teamed with a specially trained guide dog. The education information on will help guide you through a range of topics, including class lectures, information on access laws, etiquette, travel and care tips and much more. With your help, our goal is to make the Guide Dog Foundation an informational hub providing the most reliable and authoritative information about all aspects of living and working with an assistance dog.

  • Professional Training
    • Offers on-site apprentice training program for individuals hired by Foundation. Training given by qualified instructors from kennel and puppy department staffs. Training curriculum includes eye diseases, blindfold walks and blind etiquette and awareness.

  • Dog Guide Training
    • The Guide Dog Foundation works with residents of the United States and Canada who are age 16 and older and classified as legally or totally blind. We also require that each applicant have the ability to independently travel using their current mobility device. Applicants must also be physically able to work with a guide dog and also be able to care for their dog. One of the hallmarks of the Guide Dog Foundation is its meticulous matching program to ensure that each student is matched with the dog that best suits that person’s mobility, personality, lifestyle, and physical needs. We also offer cross-trained guide dogs to perform service dog tasks through the help of our related service dog organization, America's VetDogs. These service dog tasks can be added to a training program for qualified students on a case-by-case basis whose mobility has been further compromised and tasks can include providing balance, retrieval and hearing assistance. Guide Dog Foundation students come from all backgrounds and all geographical locations. Most are blind or visually impaired, but they may also have other disabilities. However, they share one common goal: to live without boundaries. Applicants for guide dogs must be at least high school age and be legally blind. Learn more about program qualifications here. The majority of students come to our 10-acre campus in Smithtown, New York, for our two-week in-residence training program. Classes are kept small to ensure personalized attention for each student and their new guide dog. Over the course of the time spent with us, the student and dog bond and learn how to work together as a team. We offer a variety of training options to best meet an individual’s needs: on-campus training, combination training, or home training. Our trainers will help determine where our students will be best served while trying to accommodate their preferences. Students will also participate in various educational workshops on grooming and care for their dog, obedience, accessibility awareness and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as assistance dog etiquette.