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Gait and Structure Evaluation for Guide Dogs – presentation by Peggy Gibbon and Dr Katy Evans

Assessment and scoring of conformation and gaits in guide dogs. Implications for success and breeding.

Peggy Gibbon is the Director of Canine Development at The Seeing Eye®, Inc.  She began working at The Seeing Eye as an instructor in 1983. She supervised the Apprentice Instructor program from 1997-2007 and managed the Puppy Development Program for several years before moving to her current position.

She enjoys having involvement in the dogs’ progress through the program, from early enrichment to Puppy Development, Training and eventually breeding, graduation or another career.

Peggy enjoys working with her own dogs outside of work and competes in a variety of performance events. She also spends her free time hiking and horseback riding.

Katy Evans qualified as a veterinarian from the University of Bristol in 2001.  After almost 7 years of clinical work, she undertook a Postgraduate Studentship in Small Animal Epidemiology at the Animal Health Trust, Newmarket, 2007-2010, funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.  This included working with survey data to investigate patterns of disease in particular dog breeds, while gaining an MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health from the Royal Veterinary College, London. 

Katy then took up a PhD Studentship, based at the Animal Health Trust, registered with the University of Nottingham and part funded by Guide Dogs UK.  This entailed working with Guide Dogs’ historical health and behavioral data to investigate the potential for estimated breeding values (EBVs) for traits of interest, to improve the accuracy of selection decisions.  In January 2015 she successfully defended her thesis, entitled ‘Genetic evaluation of guide dogs in the UK’.  She spent two years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Nottingham, working to turn the findings of her PhD into workable tools for Guide Dogs UK.  Two years at the Kennel Club in London as Health Research Manager followed, with the key focus of Katy’s time there being getting the ‘Breed Health and Conservation Plans’ project off the ground. 

In January 2019, Katy joined The Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey, as the Jane H. Booker Chair in Canine Genetics, overseeing the breeding program at the oldest still existing guide dog school in the world.  She has a career change Golden Retriever who decided that being a guide dog was not for her, and a young Border Collie who should never be allowed to guide anybody anywhere!

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