Before a dog is assigned to an owner, professionals from ONCE examine social and psychological reports of those aspiring to have a guide dog, as well as the specific needs of each applicant. The same matching process approached from another angle shows that a dog with a quiet nature will be partnered with a human being of the same behavioural traits. In contrast, a livelier animal will be assigned to a blind person who, for example, has work where he has to be on his feet for long periods of time.
Soler pointed out that there is a waiting list of blind people applying for specially trained dogs; for animals coming from Rochester in the United States, hopefuls can expect to wait a year, or one and a half years for those coming from the training school in Madrid. Blind people in the archipelago who are assigned one of these dogs, are obliged to go to these training centres to join their future companions for a period of time (three weeks in the case of Madrid and a month in that of Rochester) with the aim of mutual adaptation. The cost of each dog is between 18'000 and 24'000 euros, although the ONCE Guide Dog Foundation bears the costs of training, so that the blind person who finally has the dog as a professional companion, does not have to pay anything. Labrador dogs are the breed best able to adapt to assisting blind people, although there is a small percentage of other types, principally golden retriever and German shepherd dogs. These animals begin their training at an early age, between eight and nine months old, after having been selected for their special aptitude (character, loyalty, resolution) and will follow a training programme that will last according to the dog's individual capacity, but usually between nine months and a year. Their life averages a span of 13 years, although many animals have to leave the services of their owner when they get old and start to lose their faculties, so that a blind person may need to have two or three guide dogs during the course of his own life. ONCE was originally founded to help the blind, but has now widened its activities to cover a variety of disabilities.
Its main source of income is the coupon,' the tickets sold by vendors on street corners or at special kiosks.
The draw is held on a daily basis and is one of the most popular forms of gambling in Spain.
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