PHOENIX - September is National Guide Dog Month, a month to raise awareness and show support for guide dog schools across America.
Training a dog is expensive, and it takes time, but for those who are visually impaired or blind, a trained guide dog is free.
When Cynthia Woods is working, Biscuit is too. The Yellow Labrador Retriever is always by her side, and ready to go whenever and wherever Woods needs to.
"She is so easy going," Woods said. "You correct her once and the problem is solved. She’s been a great guide. She takes really good care of me."
Woods started losing her vision when she was in her 20s. Now, Woods works for the Foundation for Blind Children, where she was once a student.
At the Foundation, Woods helps adults who have lost their vision.
"It’s a complete blow to your self-confidence," Woods said about going blind. "I can’t do these things anymore. But I still want to do them. Before you learn about programs like Foundation for Blind Children, you think you’re just stuck that way."
Foundation for Blind Children
Biscuit is her fourth guide dog. She was paired with the pup in October 2013.
"The bond between the dog and the person is really important because the dog has to work with you and if they’re not bonded to you, they’re just not going to do it," Woods said.
Through Guide Dogs of the Desert in Palm Springs, Calif., as well as other guide dog schools, a trained guide dog does not cost a visually impaired or blind person anything.
"We’ve all had pets, we take care of them," Woods said. "We love them, but we don’t really have to trust them except perhaps around children. When she comes up to a flight of stairs, I have to trust that she’s going to stop so we are not all going to go down."
Guide Dogs of the Desert
Biscuit is 12 and a half years old.
She’s a bit slower, but still healthy and continues to enjoy working with Woods.
"The freedom I got from getting rid of the cane and getting the dog was just incredible," Woods said.