March 17

Training a Guide Dog

March 17, 2014

Parenting

Some vision-impaired people use a guide dog, who has been trained to help the owner safely navigate from one place to another. These dogs require six months of rigorous training, after careful selection for a variety of physical and personality characteristics.

The owners too are thoroughly selected and trained. After requesting a dog, the applicant’s working and living conditions are assessed, and the blind person then must spend four weeks learning how to handle his or her dog.

It is only fitting that this process should occur, because the dog and owner are taking considerable responsibility for each other. To me it is ironic that becoming a parent doesn’t require anything close to the level of selection and training associated with a guide dog or the owner. Every state demands more training to drive a car—or even to possess a hunting license—than they require of any person to become a parent.

There really isn’t a reasonable way for the government to require selection and training before someone becomes a parent, although many states do require parenting classes of couples who are getting divorced, when it is almost uniformly too late. The standards and training for parenting must improve—a lot—and that is a task that only we can accomplish. The efforts we make in this direction will be rewarded beyond our imagination.

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