|Jennifer, a Labrador guide dog, helps her blind master Chen Yan choose dog food at a Changping district mall. Photo: Li Hao/GT|
Beijing will join the rest of the world in honoring the achievements of the blind and visually impaired on White Cane Safety Day on October 15, although the day also presents an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions made by the city's handful of guide dogs.
Beijing is home to more than 67,000 blind people, but just eight guide dogs. On a national scale the figures aren't much better, with about 50 guide dogs for the country's 17.31 million blind or visually impaired people, according to 2013 figures from the China Blind People's Association.
Guide dogs were introduced to China in 2006, although their expensive cost of training coupled with routine discrimination over where they can and cannot go in public have kept their potential on a short leash.