Maria Gerstmann

Maria Gerstmann mit neun Assistenzhunden

From the very beginning, I had the opportunity to gain experience with people and animals. Later, by virtue of my professional activity as a driving instructor and the operation of my own dog grooming salon and taxi service, I learned to respond equally well to people and animals, to observe and assess them. I learned about the responsibility that comes with running a commercial business. After many years of experience with my own dogs in companion- and rescue dog training, I decided to train guide dogs in 1995, in the hope of helping people who are often greatly disadvantaged because of their disabilities. Driven by this, I expanded the school and also specialized in all forms of assistance and service dog training.

Through my constant, worldwide participation in continuing education seminars, I increasingly specialized in the most difficult training of all – namely the training of dogs for people with multiple disabilities. These include assistance guide dogs for people with visual as well as mobility disabilities, signal guide dogs for people with visual and hearing disabilities, and many more combinations. These assistance dogs must be precisely matched and trained to the needs of each individual handler.

I gained experience in the following training centers for assistance dogs:

  • Seeing Eye, Morristown, New Jersey
  • Southeastern Guide Dogs, Tampa, Florida
  • Leader Dogs for the Blind, Rochester, Michigan
  • Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), Santa Rosa, California
  • Paws With A Cause, Wayland, Michigan
  • Blindenführhundeschule Hirschgarten, Deutschland
  • Stiftung Schweizerische Schule für Blindenführhunde in Allschwil
  • South African Guide Dogs, Johannesburg
  • Bulter/Mekke Assitancedogs, Holland
  • Guide Dogs of America, Los Angeles
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind, San Rafael, California
  • Dogs for the Deaf, Central Point, Oregon
  • Support Dogs, St. Louis
  • Ecole de Chiens Guide de Paris, Frankreich
  • Lions Foundation of Canada DOG GUIDES
  • Stiftung Ostschweizerische Blindenführhundeschule
  • Irland 2017 Irish Guide Dogs
  • Irland 2017 Dogs for the disabled
  • Australia 2018 Guide Dogs Victoria
  • At Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, USA completion of a course for Guide Dog Mobility Instructors (GDMI)  with Professor David A. Guth, Ph.D.

Participant at IGDF Seminars:

At these events, all assistance dog schools worldwide meet and report on the latest scientific findings and practical experiences regarding the training. Only IGDF certified schools are permitted to attend these events.

France, Paris 2012
Croatia, Hvar Mai 2016
Australia, Sydney 2018

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