About Us

Picture of Sonny as a PuppyThe OccuPaws Guide Dog Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, charitable organization based out of Madison, WI. OccuPaws is an innovative, creative, and life-changing organization dedicated to empowering the visually impaired while raising awareness and education for both adults and children. Our mission is to place fully trained guide dogs of excellent health and temperament with Midwest residents (adults and children) who have visual impairments at no charge.

Our Guide Dog mobility, Visual Assistant Dog, and Children’s Visual Companion Dog custom training sessions take place in the comfort of the client’s home environment as opposed to a guide dog academy. We do this because we believe that legitimate personal circumstances (family obligations, professional commitments or secondary health conditions) should not prevent an otherwise capable individual with a qualifying visual impairment from enjoying the companionship and assistance a canine guide can offer. Each completely trained dog and person is carefully matched according to such traits as lifestyle, personality, activity level, and walking speed.

Photo of Gordy as a puppy sleepingIn addition to harness work and obedience commands, our Certified Guide Dog Mobility Instructor teaches each client about the learning style of their particular guide dog, about various aspects of canine behavior, and about the innate characteristics of their guide dog’s breed. By the end of each custom in-home placement, the client will have learned how to teach their guide dog new skills and how to work with and care for their canine visual partner throughout the entirety of its’ career.

Our hope is that our size and innovative training practices will allow us to provide an extremely supportive and highly customized experience to each of our canine-person teams. Please help us by becoming a volunteer puppy raiser, donating to OccuPaws to help us place guide dogs or children’s visual companion dogs or becoming a volunteer at one of our fundraising events to provide this unique visual aid tool to our visually impaired community.  OccuPaws is a Candidate Member of Assistance Dog International (ADI) and is a member of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF).  Enjoy the video below highlighting the incredible journey our puppies take to becoming guide dogs.