Morris Frank and Buddy: a touching story of a friendship that became iconic (9 photos)

27 May 2024

Dogs help people in a variety of areas - they rescue, find missing people, search for prohibited substances and objects. An important function of our four-legged friends is to serve as eyes for those who were born blind or have lost their sight. The dogs did not master these skills immediately or suddenly.

A life-size bronze statue of a man and his dog stands near the Morristown Green in Morristown, New Jersey. The man is Morris Frank, co-founder and first vice president of The Seeing Eye. You can immediately recognize by the dog's harness that it is a service animal. Buddy is a German Shepherd and the first guide dog for the blind in the United States. The statue is called "The Path to Independence".

Frank and Buddy

Frank was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1908 and spent much of his childhood helping his blind mother. He became blind in his right eye at age six when he tripped on a tree branch while riding a horse. Frank became completely blind at the age of 16 when his left eye was damaged during a boxing match.

By the time he entered Vanderbilt University, he was increasingly plunged into the abyss of depression, because his disability deprived him of the opportunity to lead a full life. Although he often hired young people as assistants, he found them too inattentive and unreliable.

In November 1927, Frank's father read him a magazine article that changed not only his life, but the lives of thousands of other blind people.

The article, written by American dog trainer Dorothy Harrison Eustis, described a school in Germany that trained blind World War I veterans to work with guide dogs. Frank wrote to Eustis about purchasing a guide dog. And the woman invited him to Fortunate Fields, her school in Switzerland. He arrived in February 1928, and his partner was a German shepherd named Kiss. He named the dog Buddy.

The man and the dog went through an intensive guide dog training course together. Frank brought Buddy to the States in June 1928 and immediately began promoting the benefits of using a guide dog. He demonstrated Buddy's skills to reporters by having him walk through two of Manhattan's busiest and most dangerous streets.

On January 29, 1929, in Nashville, Tennessee, Eustis and Frank founded the first guide dog school in the United States, The Seeing Eye. Two years later, the school moved to New Jersey because the northern climate was more favorable for year-round training of German Shepherds. Frank continued to fight tirelessly for the rights of the blind and full access for guide dogs until he retired from school in 1956.

Friends with Dorothy Harrison Eustis

Frank and Buddy were partners until the dog's death on May 23, 1938. A few days earlier, they had overcome almost the final disability barrier when they were approved to accompany them on a commercial flight for the first time. During their years together, Frank and Buddy traveled more than 80,000 kilometers, demonstrating how a guide dog can change the life of a blind person. Frank always believed that Buddy gave him the "divine gift of freedom."

On April 29, 2005, a bronze sculpture of Frank and Buddy was installed near the Morristown Green. Created by sculptor John Seward Johnson II, the statue captures the duo in mid-stride as Frank raises his right hand in the command "Go."

Johnson painted the sculpture with automotive paint to give it maximum realism. It is installed in the place that Frank and Buddy passed every day to and from work. This route is still used today by blind students of The Seeing Eye and their dogs. The inscriptions on the statues are in English and Braille.

The history of mutual assistance has become not only an example of the successful achievement of independence, but also of that special deep connection that arises between man and animal, which appears only under the condition of sincere friendship and absolute trust.

Add your comment
  • bowtiesmilelaughingblushsmileyrelaxedsmirk

You might be interested in: