Guide Dogs for the Blind celebrates 75 years

Jake Koch and Forli (a Labrador) go everywhere together. (KATU Photo)

Guide Dogs for the Blind is celebrating a big milestone: It has matched dogs to visually impaired handlers for 75 years.

It takes a village to raise a guide dog, and the bond between a dog and its handler goes beyond pet and owner.

Jake Koch and Forli (a Labrador) go everywhere together.

“You don’t get Jake without Forli and you don’t get Forli without Jake,” Koch says.

As guide dog and handler, they’re a perfect match.

“You’re putting your – sort of life in the paws of this dog,” says Koch. “You and they are going to work together, and as long as you both do your job correctly, everything will be safe and everything will work out just fine.”

Koch, born with a visual impairment, has had guide dogs for about 10 years. He got Forli two years ago.

They learned how to work together at Guide Dogs for the Blind. The campus in Boring houses up to 100 dogs at a time.

Before they become guide dogs, the dogs have to learn how to be good dogs. Volunteers housebreak them, socialize them and teach them basic obedience.

Kara Hahn is raising Dijon. The dog is her sixth guide dog puppy.

“I feel like I’m the lucky one -- to get to spend a year of my life with amazing, amazing dogs,” Hahn says.

She says it’s tough handing the puppies over after a year, but it’s worth it.

“They serve a greater purpose in life than to be someone’s pet or to stay with us, and you know that they’re destined for greater things in life,” says Hahn.

Like being Koch’s perfect match.

“She’s a friend. She’s a co-pilot. She’s a travel assistant. She’s a companion. She’s a guide dog,” Koch says.

Guide Dogs for the Blind's Boring Ore. campus offers drop-in tours for groups of up to 7 people every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. - all other tours must be scheduled ahead of time.

You can attend guide dog graduations every other Saturday. For more information, click here.

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