Japan’s first guide dogs|Center Hospital of National Center for Global Health and Medicine
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Japan’s first guide dogs
German guide dogs were trained here.

  • The use of guide dogs began in Vienna in 1819, when Rev. Johann Wilhelm Klein attached a long stick to a dog’s collar and trained him properly as a guide dog. Guide dogs were first introduced in Japan in 1938 by a young American man named John Forbes Gordon. Gordon brought his guide dog Ortie on a trip to Japan, where he gave lectures around the country.
  • In 1939, four German shepherds, namely, Rita, Asta, Podo, and Ruthie, who were raised in Germany and trained as guide dogs, were brought to Japan. The First Provisional Hospital of the Army (which would later become the NCGM) served as their training grounds in Japan.
  • The dogs were accustomed to receiving commands in German, so they were re-trained to understand commands in the Japanese language and Japanese traffic. Then they were donated to blind soldiers as a means of social rehabilitation.
  • Although the rearing of guide dogs stopped during the WWII, research on this subject resumed during Japan’s postwar revival; the Japan Guide Dog Association was formed in 1967.
    (Source: “The History of Guide Dogs,” The Japan Guide Dog Association, https://www.moudouken.net/knowledge/history.php)