Friday, September 25, 2015

GDB Puppy Raising Youth Scholarship Recipient: Jaclyn Bigley Essay

Except for the puppy part of Guide Dogs for the Blind, the experience of being part of this organization has been far more than I expected. I originally joined the program because I love animals, and I thought it would be a great way to help people. Many of my friends at the time I joined Guide Dogs for the Blind were joining National Charity League (NCL) because in our neck of the woods that was the thing to do. I went a different route because NCL was very high profile and required a significant financial commitment. I was shy, and I wanted something different, something that fit me as a person.

The program’s impact on me began immediately. The story of how Guide Dogs for the Blind started to change my life and those around me picks up when I picked up my first puppy to raise and experienced for the first time the monumental task and responsibility of caring for a guide dog day-in and day-out. Of course it is all second nature now even though there is more to learn, but in the beginning, I needed to understand my role and all the rules. And as importantly, I had to assert myself with my brothers when they would play or work with the dog in a way that was inconsistent with how I was taught. Dad even got off track on occasion, and I needed to remind him. We, quickly, as a family realized that we are in this together. It was not like playing a sport, or the piano, or having your own hobby. This was a life style choice. I knew right there and then that in order to be a successful puppy raiser, I needed everyone in the family to understand how important it was to do this together the right way.  And I needed to be confident enough to remind people of that.

Jenna was my first puppy and she successfully graduated from the program. She was given to a wonderful person named Sue Mangis who is a teacher. We have been friends ever since I met her at the graduation ceremony in San Rafael. Of the people my experience with Guide Dogs for the Blind has affected the most, I think Ms. Mangis would be around the top of the list. We keep in contact through email and she never fails to mention how amazed she is of the work I have done with Jenna and how well Guide Dogs for the Blind paired them together. Every time I think about them, I am so touched by her and Jenna. I realize that much of what Ms. Mangis is saying is because of the great job that the trainers and staff do in San Rafael, but it is still nice to hear anyway. Also, hearing her stories and her day-to-day activities made easier by Jenna and their relationship has truly shown me how big of an impact this organization makes. Although it is painful giving up a dog, Sue Mangis is one of those people who keeps me doing what I do for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I believe the work Jenna does and the relationship I have with Ms. Mangis has changed us all for the better.

My school and friends have also been impacted by my work with Guide Dogs for the Blind. Not a week goes by that somebody does not ask me about one of the dogs. In fact, if too much time passes for them without seeing the dog, they get mad at me for not bringing her to school. When the dog is not with me, people really want to know what is going on. Somehow they feel connect to the program through me and what “we” are doing because the students and staff at my high school think they are helping too. I am humbled by this. Most teachers and students openly welcome a guide dog into the classroom. Among other things, it has created a discussion and awareness of the blind. I am thankful that this has had such an affect in my school and with my friends.

Beyond being a puppy raiser, my experience as an intern in San Rafael was a milestone for me.  Stepping into an administrative role and living far from my home during part of the summer was an experience that I will never forget. People in a work setting depended on me and I depended on them.  After work, I needed to be self-sufficient and resourceful. I had freedom, but also responsibility, and it felt good to be part of something like that even for a short time to get a feel for the professional world.

I think I have found a piece of myself through Guide Dogs for the Blind that I was not sure existed.  People tell me “I have come out of my shell.” They credit Guide Dogs for the Blind for this and so do I. I feel more confident, more conscientious, and more in tune with what is going on with people around me because of my work in the program. I have had a chance to lead, to follow, to be on a team, to speak publicly, fundraise, put on parties and participate in many other activities that have helped me view the world from different angles and learn from each. I am grateful for this. From my experiences with Guide Dogs for the Blind I have learned about how beautiful it is to be unique. I have learned that it is okay to step out of my comfort zone and try something I might not think I can do or that my peers are not doing. I have learned that blindness or any handicap for that matter is a point of view. I learned it is not about what you cannot do, but what you can do that counts. I learned how vital it is to give in order to receive. I have learned, in spite of what your challenges are, you need to continue to move forward. I learned the value of hard work and making a commitment and sticking with it. I learned through the dogs about being disciplined and consistent. So for all the emotion, work, and the things I did to give, I received much, much more.

Guide Dogs for the Blind has and I hope it will continue to play a role in my life. It has helped to shape who I am today.  I want to pursue a career in business, but work in an organization that has a social purpose and some emphasis on helping humanity in some way. And like Guide Dogs for the Blind, it would be wonderful if animals were involved. Although I do not know what that specific career is yet, I feel that my experiences with Guide Dogs for the Blind has given me this vision of what I would like to do. I enjoy helping people and working with animals. In fact, that is why I chose to get involved with Guide Dogs for the Blind as a puppy raiser in the first place. I simply did not know where the journey would ultimately take me, and in the end I believe it has taken me where I need to be. It has helped me to mature in so many different areas.  It has allowed me to give something back that is needed.  And it has strengthened my interest in working in organizations who are more like this one.

Jaclyn smiles holding a young black Lab puppy in front of the Puppy Truck.

Jaclyn Bigley is from Fullerton, California and has been raising guide dog puppies for eight years. She is currently raising her sixth puppy, Anna. Jaclyn first got involved with GDB because she wanted to be able to help others with what she loves most, dogs. GDB has impacted her life in way she could have never imagined and she is very grateful for the opportunities it has brought her. In addition to puppy raising, Jaclyn swims, is the co-chairman of the Knights of Columbus Christmas Drive at her church, is involved in student government. Jaclyn will be attending the University of San Diego.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Nancy Bloyer Memorial Fund Scholarship: Winner for Outstanding Essay

The Nancy Bloyer Memorial Fund was created to support the GDB Puppy Raiser Youth Scholarship program for 2015 and in the future. After reading about the 2014 scholarship winners, puppy raiser Nancy Boyer saw each of them as truly amazing, strong, giving individuals who deserved a nice “thank you" for all their efforts to make a difference for others. As a result, the GDB memorial fund in the name of Nancy Bloyer was created. Nancy will be remembered as one of the givers – especially the love and guidance for the GDB pups entrusted in her care: Flair, January, Ella and Madge. Thank you very much to the Nancy Bloyer Memorial Fund donors for their generous contributions (these funds will also be available next year).

Nancy and Don Bloyer with yellow Lab guide dog puppy January in front of the Puppy Truck
Nancy and Don Bloyer with guide dog puppy January

Nancy Bloyer Memorial Fund Scholarship – Winner for Outstanding Essay: Laura Marchi

How has your experience in raising a GDB puppy specifically impacted someone else in your life or in your community?

I hop out of my car, dressed in a suit, purse over my arm, expertly avoiding an ever-present Oregon mud puddle. My heels click as I walk around to the tailgate, leading out a puppy whose tail is wagging. He has no regard for the wet weather or my nice clothes and hops out - right into the puddle I just avoided. I sigh, looking at the mud spots on my skirt. Luckily, I’m prepared for puppy antics. I pull a wet wipe out of my bag and clean off my suit and the rambunctious puppy’s paws before heading into the courthouse, laughing to myself.

Volunteer work has been a source of learning and satisfaction for me for many years. My most fulfilling volunteer job has been as a Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind. One of my favorite things about puppy raising is that I can participate in training and socializing my puppy while going about my normal life. It makes for a very flexible schedule, at least once the puppy is reliably house trained! I also devote my time to a local program called Roseburg Area Youth Services (R.A.Y.S.) Youth Court. Through this program, I serve as an attorney for high school and middle school students who have committed first offense misdemeanors, such as possession of alcohol or marijuana, petty theft, or harassment. I have been working for both organizations for four years.

Part of my job as an attorney for Youth Court is to serve as a mentor to troubled teens, but it can be really hard to connect with the teens that are assigned to jury duty as a sanction for their offense. Without meaning to, I often found myself taking the easy route and socializing with the other volunteers. It felt like my conversations with the sanctioned teens tended to end before they had begun. I wanted to reach out, but it was always hard to connect. Then, one day I came in to volunteer with the puppy I was raising for Guide Dogs, a fluffy golden retriever who was bright eyed, friendly, and had a tail that could clear a coffee table in under a second. As I began to wade my way through the cafeteria, kids perked up, staring and whispering. Some of these were kids that I had never seen look up from their phones or take off their headphones. These were the teens who usually stared listlessly at walls, annoyed or ashamed that they were here serving out their community service sanctions. They normally refused or avoided talking to me, but now they were looking at me and my dog. They began to tentatively ask questions and pet my puppy. I ended up sitting next to a girl that I had always wanted to speak to. After hearing her case for the first time and meeting her less than supportive parents, I wanted to help in some way if she would only let me talk heart to heart with her. She absolutely adored the golden puppy, and it was only a few weeks later that she began to open up to me and others, take advice from us, and really let her guard down. She’s now a strong attorney in the program, and has plans to graduate high school and enter college. It was the puppy that opened the pathway of communication, but it allowed me to make the decision to step up and make a dedicated effort to speak with her.

My leader, Terri Jo, always says that our puppies have a purpose. Even when they do not make it to be a working Guide, they will leave their mark in this world. Some dogs are meant to be Guides, to serve as a light to their handlers. But others serve as a beacon of hope to those in our communities that least expect it. This golden pup helped this girl long before he would ever be old enough to become a Guide, and to me, that is the true power of what we do with these puppies.

When you are in public with an irresistible puppy wearing a green Guide Dogs for the Blind training vest, everyone wants to talk to you. I have chosen a career in engineering, but being a public ambassador for Guide Dogs for the Blind has really helped me become a strong communicator and allowed me to look at my long term goals critically. I’m going to Oregon State University in the fall and I plan to continue as an active volunteer in the Guide Dogs program. I want to improve people’s lives and shape the world through engineering. Guide Dogs for the Blind and R.A.Y.S. Youth Court have opened my mind to the needs of different groups of people. Using both my passion for mathematics that I have demonstrated through school and my passion for helping others that I have developed through these volunteering opportunities, I have the tools to make change happen and apply my skills to my career goals.

Laura Marchi poses with Golden Retriever Kristoff near purple flower beds.
Laura Marchi poses with Kristoff 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Announcing GDB’s 2015 Puppy Raising Scholarship Awards

Annually, GDB awards scholarships to puppy raisers in their senior year of high school who have outstanding scholastic achievement and volunteer experience within GDB and their communities. Congratulations to the following puppy raisers on their accomplishments!

The bios of the scholarship winners are included below. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll share the winning essays and creative projects from the scholarship winners here on the blog, so stay tuned!

Nancy Bloyer Memorial Fund Scholarships

Laura Marchi poses with a Golden Retriever with purple flowers around them.
Receiving a $1,000 Guide Dogs for the Blind Puppy Raising Youth Scholarship, a $500 award in the Outstanding Essay category, and a $500 award in the Outstanding Creative category is Laura Marchi of Roseburg, Oregon who has been raising puppies for Guide Dogs for Blind since she moved to Oregon four years ago. She has trained and owned dogs her whole life, and GDB was a natural next step to give back to the community. She has raised two GDB puppies, Ken and Caribou, both black Labrador Retrievers. Both were career changes, Ken works in a home for troubled teens and Caribou stayed with a family in her club. She has helped co-raise most of the other puppies in her club. One Golden Retriever whom she helped raise, Kristoff, who was career changed, is now her 4H dog and they will compete together this year at the Douglas County Fair in agility, rally, obedience, and showmanship. She also owns a German Shepherd, Cleopatra, whom she loves dearly and shows in AKC events. She plans to continue raising Guide Dog Puppies through college, and will be attending Oregon State University for engineering this fall.

$1,000 GDB Puppy Raising Youth Scholarships

Jaclyn smiles holding a black Lab puppy in front of the Puppy Truck.
Jaclyn Bigley from Fullerton, California has been raising guide dog puppies for eight years. She is currently raising her sixth puppy, Anna. Jaclyn first got involved with GDB because she wanted to be able to help others with what she loves most, dogs. GDB has impacted her life in way she could have never imagined and she is very grateful for the opportunities it has brought her. In addition to puppy raising, Jaclyn swims, is the co-chairman of the Knights of Columbus Christmas Drive at her church, is involved in student government. Jaclyn will be attending the University of San Diego.

Gina smiles holding a young black Lab puppy.
Gina Phillipsen of Shingle Springs, California has been involved in raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind since 2001, and as a primary raiser since 2010. Gina’s two older sisters raised 5 guide dogs between them. Gina has raised 4 puppies: Carnival who became a breeder; 2 career change puppies; and Nepal (one of Carnival’s first litter). Nepal just returned to GDB for formal training. During her 5 years as Teen Leader of the El Dorado County 4H Guide Dog Project, Gina worked diligently to promote the GDB program by securing donations and recruiting volunteers. Gina’s puppies-in-training have been present in all of her high school classes and she has taken them to classrooms at nearby pre-schools, elementary and middle schools for promotional talks and presentations. In addition to GDB puppy raising activities, Gina has earned two varsity letters in Trap Shooting, competes in local, state and national mathematics competitions and served as 4H All Star Ambassador for El Dorado County for 3 years. Gina will attend the University of Nevada, Reno this fall to major in engineering.

Hailey smiles with her arm around a yellow Lab guide dog puppy wearing the green puppy coat.
Hailey Elias of Auburn, California has raised seven puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind: one breeder (Darice), three working guides (Vivaldi, Yolo, and Porter), and two career changes, one became a service dog for a US Veteran (Skyla), and the other is her beloved pet (Atlanta). Her current puppy is a female yellow lab named Vashti. Hailey’s passion is helping others, and she loves seeing the impact her guide dog puppies make on not only the lives of the visually impaired, but her community as well. Hailey also volunteers in the Special Needs ministry at her church, and enjoys helping children with disabilities. She finds her background with Guide Dogs for the Blind helps her have a strong connection and empathy with the children she works with. Hailey graduated a year early from high school as valedictorian. She will be attending California State University Sacramento in the fall, and she can’t wait to continue raising guide dog puppies in college.

$1,000 Harwell Family Scholarship provided by Greg and Kathy Harwell

Kylie sits on a dirt road next to a smiling black Lab guide dog puppy.
Kylie Peterson of Roseville, California has been actively involved with Guide Dogs for 5 years.  She currently is spoiling a career change, Geoffrey, which got her involved with Guide Dogs in the first place. In that time she has also raised 3 puppies: Alamo (therapy dog for marital counseling); Pecan (spoiled house pet); and Gamma her current puppy in training.  While finishing her senior year of high school, Kylie not only lead several meetings for her puppy raising club but also was a leader in her church youth group. She will be attending Sierra College in the fall to pursue a career in Canine Physical Therapy.

$1,000 Jenkins Scholarship provided by Steve and Kathie Jenkins

Christina smiles next to a black Lab guide dog puppy.
Christina Marelli of Rancho Palos Verdes, California is currently raising her fourth GDB puppy, Blair. She has been the President of South Bay Puppy Raisers, her local puppy raising club, for the last two years. Christina also completed her Girl Scout Gold Award Project entitled "Anyone Can Be A Puppy Raiser," where she dedicated over 90 hours to develop a video for GDB about the process of being a puppy raiser and presented to 130 youths about the merits of becoming involved with GDB. Christina will be attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall, studying civil engineering and architecture.

Puppy Raising Youth Scholarships provided by Guide Dogs for the Blind

Megan smiles holding a young guide dog puppy (black and brindle Lab).
Receiving $1,000 GDB Puppy Raising Scholarship is Megan Irving of Fullerton California. Megan has raised 8 puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind as part of Puppies 2 Partners puppy raising club. Stardust, Harlow, Avalon and Margene are working guides, Dakota & Sherbert are career change pets, Figaro was career changed and is now Megan’s family’s pet, and Irene became a breeder and just had her first litter of 8 puppies! Among Megan’s many extracurricular activities, she is a scholar athlete having served as team captain for her school’s lacrosse team for three years as well as a two time MVP. She earned her Girl Scout Gold Award by petitioning the Orange County Board of Supervisors to change the wording on the service dog affidavit for waiving licensing fees for service dogs to include puppy raisers. She will be attending the University of Notre Dame in the Fall to study Mechanical Engineering.

Mikaela smiles sitting next to a black Lab.
Receiving a $500 GDB Puppy Raising Scholarship is Mikaela Haglund of Gresham, Oregon. Mikaela has raised puppies for GDB since 2006. In that time she has raised six puppies. Two puppies, Georgette and Tessie, became breeders. Three puppies, Gavina, Farrah and Cider, were all career change dogs. Cider has become a member of their family. The most recent puppy, Luau, graduated last June and became a working guide. Mikaela is currently involved with Guide Dogs as a puppy sitter. She has a passion for volunteering; she enjoys seeing the fulfillment she can bring to somebody and the difference she can make in their life. She has also volunteered with various local organizations through National Honor Society and Key Club. The past two summers she was a camp counselor at Camp Adams. Aside from volunteering, she played varsity tennis for two years. Mikaela will be attending Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA this fall. She plans to minor in Spanish and major in biochemistry to pursue a career in forensics.

Delphine smiles with a yellow Lab and Golden Retriever guide dog puppy.
Receiving a $500 GDB Puppy Raising Scholarship is Delphine Medeiros, of Seattle, Washington. Delphine has been raising puppies since her freshman year of high school. Corbett (retired guide), Lawton (retired guide), Belay (breeder), Ontario (career change), and Ben (puppy in training) have accompanied Delphine to school every day and become a part of the Vashon High School community. She has been the secretary for her puppy raising club, which is both ASB and 4H, leading into being the club's president for two years. Delphine has worked on ASB and helped manage the girls volleyball and boys basketball teams at her school during her senior year. In the fall she will attend Washington State University and hopes to continue her work with animals.

Sam smiles with a yellow Lab guide dog puppy.
Receiving a $500 GDB Puppy Raising Scholarship for an Outstanding Essay is Sam Nelson from Bend, Oregon. Sam is currently raising his 7th puppy, Burke, who will be recalled by the end of this summer for formal training. Sam raised two working guides, Huey and Waylon. Sam participated in multiple clubs including Interact Club (a division of Rotary International), Speech, Jr. Quota, and Honor Society. Sam plays several sports including Cross Country running, Nordic Skiing, and Lacrosse. Sam will be attending the Honors Program at Georgia Tech in the fall, studying Materials Science Engineering to work with medical devices.

Ian smiles kneeling next to a Golden Retriever guide dog puppy.
Receiving a $500 GDB Puppy Raising Scholarship for an Outstanding Essay is Ian Miller of Salt Lake City, Utah. Ian has been involved with Guide Dogs for the Blind for four years, and raised two puppies. His first, Muir, is currently a working guide in Hawthorne, California, while his second, Pasha, has been selected for breeding. Last year, Ian was elected as an officer for the FFA puppy raising club, and this year was elected as Club President. Outside of his work with GDB, Ian volunteers with the Utah Refugee Committee, working to help newly arrived refugees settle in to life in the US. He also recently completed a Service Year with Youthlinc, during which he finished 80 hours of local community service before traveling to Cambodia over the summer to teach English lessons, provide medical care and build a preschool in a rural village. In addition, Ian graduated with recognition from the National Honors Society of Utah and a scholarship from the Service Learning Department for his years of work through his local high school community. In his time with the Humane Society of Utah, he has fostered over 250 cats and kittens, all of which have now found permanent homes. Ian will attend Northeastern University this fall in the Honors Mechanical Engineering program on both a Dean’s and Presidential Scholarship.

Honorable Mentions (received $100 gift cards to Staples to assist with school supplies):
Monica Magdaleno
Allison Hance
Marina Mehta
Sarah Ferrell

May 2015 Breeder's Digest

Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers
Golden Retrievers

New Breeders:

Labrador Retrievers
Magpie – UT
Whitley – TX

Golden Retrievers
Pasha – UT

Lab/Golden Crosses
Reagan – UT & CO

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Southwest Bright Eyes Puppy Raisers Support GDB Graduate Trevor Thomas on The Colorado Trail

By: Sue and Jim Mooney

July was a very special time for the Southwest Bright Eyes puppy raisers of Durango, Colorado. We don't often get to meet a working guide dog team, so we were thrilled when we were able to welcome Trevor Thomas and his guide dog Tennille to our town when they finished hiking the 500 mile Colorado Trail! Trevor, Tennille, and Dave Baumgartner started their journey from Denver in mid June; all along the way, puppy raisers like Paul and Nancy Lucacovic, acted as trail angels bringing supplies to specified points every four to five days. When the team reached Lake City, it was time for us to help out. We are a small club, but we have lots of dog lover friends, and Dick Dahl, Donnie Moffatt, and Amy Scott rose to the occasion for two of the drops. We had the pleasure of meeting this intrepid trio on beautiful Molas Pass. The guys wolfed down the sandwiches and cokes we supplied, and Tennille was very pleased with a snack of baby carrots and a banana.

Two Southwest Brighteyes puppy raisers and their guide dog puppies pose with Trevor and Tennille (black Lab) in the wilderness.

The following Thursday, they arrived at the end of the Colorado Trail. Our local TV station and newspapers were there to greet them, as well as Mary Monroe from Trails 2000 (a local trails non profit connecting people to the outdoors), and our puppy club, with puppies in training, career change dogs, and many well-wishers. Nancy and Paul were here from Denver, and we had the honor of driving the tired but happy hikers around to get what they needed to get rid of the trail dust of 42 days, before the Chamber of Commerce reception at Santa Rita Park that evening. Durango pulled out all the stops, with a deli tray, refreshments, and gifts from several local merchants. Trevor was great at answering any and all questions, and Tennile sat quietly by his side  such a good example for our pups! After the reception, 10 people and four dogs traveled over to The Palace Restaurant for another opportunity to get to know each other. I am happy to report that the dogs and people were all very well-behaved!

A Southwest Brighteyes puppy raiser poses with her black Lab puppy.

Two Southwest Brighteyes puppy raisers pose with their guide puppies.

What an amazing experience it was for all of us getting to know Trevor, Tennille, and Dave! We are often asked how can we give these pups up. Our answer is that we raise them to change lives, and we know what great matches GDB makes. This team is an outstanding example of that! We will miss you, Trevor and Tennille, but we look forward to new adventures that you'll be up to. Again, the connections made this summer prove that "We are Family."

Three Southwest Brighteyes puppy raisers smile with Trevor and Tennille (black Lab) in the wilderness.