Training guide dogs for the blind costs upwards of EUR 15,000 per dog and the drop-out rate for the dogs over the course of the training program can be as high as 30 percent. KONE helps makes a difference with an escalator.
KONE’s foundation in France has supported the work of the ‘École des chiens guides d’Ile-de-France’ – a school for guide dogs in the Paris region, by providing financial support for training dogs to use escalators; part of the essential training for a dog to aid the mobility of visually impaired people.
The school was established in 1984, and since then the dogs and their trainers have had to face the better part of an hour’s journey to a shopping center to practice with escalators. Not only was this stressful for the dogs, it also meant that training sessions were limited to Sundays as this was the only time the shopping center was closed to the public.
In the spring of 2009, KONE supplied an escalator to the center at a discounted price and provided direct financial assistance to train the dogs. Having their own escalator has increased the school’s training capacity from 15 to about 50 dogs a year.
According to Mme Louisette Yzerman, vice president of the school, the dogs find escalators a bit daunting and thus have to be trained to use one. “There are two areas where dogs need training with escalators. The first is getting onto one. Dogs do not like getting onto something moving, and the noise and vibration also disturb them. The second area is making sure the dogs do not guide their companions underneath escalators or staircases in shopping malls and other public areas. A dog needs a lot less headroom than a person, and the dogs have to be trained not to pass beneath escalators and stairs at a point where there is insufficient height for a person to pass safely as well.”
Escalator training lasts fifteen minutes twice a day and at the end of a week, the dogs can use one; by the end of a month, they are ready to go to shopping centers and use escalators in a public place without any problems.
Did you know?
- From 2-12 months, a puppy lives with a host family and learns how to adapt to various environments
- After 12 months, the dog goes to a training center; schooling takes 6-8 months to complete
- When a dog is given to its service partner, it responds to 50 common-use commands
- At the age of 9 or 10 years, the dog usually ‘retires’ and can live with the owner or a host family
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