Founder’s Grandson Visits Guide Dogs of America

Andy Boyd, the grandson of the catalyst for the founding of Guide Dogs of America, and his wife, Marie Boyd, recently visited GDA’s training center in Sylmar, CA.

The IAM’s favorite charity, the Guide Dogs of America (GDA), recently welcomed the grandson of a former IAM member who was the catalyst for GDA’s founding nearly 70 years ago.

Andy Boyd and his wife, Marie Boyd, visited GDA’s Southern California facility for a tour of its kennel and nursery. Each had the chance to put on a blindfold and walk with a guide dog to get a feeling for what it was like for his grandfather, Joseph Jones, Sr., to be led by his first dog, Lucy, whose harness still adorns the GDA lobby.

“I never realized the impact my grandfather had until I actually saw how life-changing this facility is,” said Andy Boyd. “Seeing what my grandfather was a part of had a tremendous personal impact on me.”

When Joseph Jones, Sr. became blind, he applied to all existing schools for a guide dog, but was declined because of his “advanced age.” He was 57 years old.

So he turned to the IAM Executive Council, who determined that there was indeed a growing need for guide dog services. In 1948, International Guiding Eyes was founded. It’s now known as Guide Dogs of America, the first guide dog training school to adopt a policy forbidding age discrimination.

“Our staff was honored to meet a descendant of a man who changed so many lives of those who are blind,” said GDA President Dale Hartford. “To have the Boyds visit our school brought the legacy of Joseph Jones even closer to us.”

Learn more about GDA’s history in the book, “Guide Dogs of America: A History,” available for order here.

GDA services are provided at no charge to guide dog recipients. All donations come from IAM members, IAM local and district events, caring individuals, businesses, foundations, clubs, and organizations as well as through wills and bequests. The cost to produce a qualified guide dog companion, train the dog and recipient as a team, and provide the follow-up services to ensure safety and effectiveness throughout the team’s working life, is over $42,000.

To learn more about Guided Dogs of America, call 818-362-5834 or visit