Thursday, December 31, 2009

Celebrating Those Who Touch Our Lives

GDB alumna Lois Seigal with Guide Dog Savitaby GDB Alumna Lois Seigal

I loved my Guide Dog Savita beyond measure. She had a sweet, gentle nature and was kind of a tease at times, too. So, you can imagine how I felt when she was diagnosed with cancer in April.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Jeff Meyer, his wife Lynn, and the rest of the loving staff at the Granville Small Animal Clinic went above and beyond the call of duty in her care. After performing surgery to remove her cancer-ridden spleen, Dr. Meyer and his wife took her into their home for several nights so she could recover under observation.

Consulting with GDB’s veterinarian, Dr. Dietrich, Dr. Meyer and I came to the decision to begin chemotherapy. Each time Savita went in for a treatment, my amazing friends would drive us the 80 miles to and from the clinic. Savita would spend a night or two there under the staff’s supervision before returning home. She easily won everyone's affection by being so brave, cooperative and loving with those who cared for her.

And even though I know I must have been phoning the clinic almost daily for advice and assurance that I was caring properly for Savita, at the end of each call I was ALWAYS was reminded to "Please call us any time you need us." I have never met such exceptional expertise matched with kindness, understanding and patience.

Each time we spoke, Dr. Dietrich reminded me to make every day the best day of Savita's life, and so we did. There were many friends to play with, including two local teens who gave her extra-special attention during their summer break. There were outings to enjoy, treats and the very kindest most loving care possible to imagine. She had nine wonderful months before additional complications set in.

When her back legs began to fail, a friend made a special relieving box for her on our deck, so she wouldn’t have to maneuver the five steps up to the house from the yard. But when her kidneys failed, we knew it was time to make the difficult decision to free her spirit from her ailing body.

Her last day was special: she enjoyed some sniffs in the snow, her favorite treats, hours of loving, cozy warm beds, and visits from friends. Her favorite friend, I think, was the mailman; he was so saddened by the prospect of losing Savita that when he left after an hour of stroking her, it was with tears rolling down his cheeks. It was a sad day for us humans, indeed.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Jeff and Lynn drove the 80 miles from the clinic after their day of work on Thursday, December 10th and arrived here at our home around 8:30 so Savita could be put respectfully and lovingly to sleep in her own home and in her own bed, surrounded by friends. I wish I knew of a tribute appropriate for my wonderful veterinarian and his wife. They continue to call to check in on me, recognizing the loneliness I feel in not having the warmth of my best friend to hug, but they know she is with me in spirit.

Savita was loved; she was a little princess with a very, very big heart! She leaves behind so much in the way of memories to cherish forever for me and all those who loved her. The cards, phone calls, flowers, gifts, donations and endless kindnesses in her memory are the evidence of her mark in life. I feel so blessed to have been her care-giver, friend, companion and handler. What a privilege for almost nine years! She would have been 11 in March.

She touched all of our lives, and you have touched mine. Thank you each and every one for caring for this precious dog and extending her life beyond what we thought might be possible.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guide Dog Puppy Wins Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Contenst

One of our Guide Dog puppy photos was selected as the winner of the sfgate.com (San Francisco Chronicle) Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Photo Contest!


Yellow Lab Guide Dog puppy pictured underneath a scraggly Christmas treeMany thanks to all who voted for and supported us. We even inspired the Chronicle staff to host a puppy photo contest – you can see the announcement here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfmoms/detail?entry_id=54315

Have a safe and happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An Arrow to the Heart

Contributed by Michael Stout

I first applied to Guide Dogs for the Blind in October of 2008. I was evaluated and there was concern about my stamina and my ability to keep up with a dog. What the school didn't realize about me was my great determination to have a Guide Dog. I immediately began walking every day and within 4 months I went from walking less then 1/2 mile to walking over 4 miles. After reevaluation, I was finally approved to participate in the accelerated program at the Oregon campus.

Michael and Arrow
In August of 2009, I was matched with a dog named Arrow. I instantly fell in love with him. Since our introduction and training he has become my left hand. He and I are dedicated to one another. He has provided me not only the ability to become more independent but has also motivated me to become more active and continue on a path of wellness. Now, three years after I first lost my eye sight to diabetes I feel complete again. They told me with time my Guide Dog and I would become one. I have patiently watched for that connection to develop and today Arrow and I have become one. He provides me the comfort of not being alone and we now get lost and find our way together.

When the harness comes off he is my buddy. He runs and plays in the back yard with the energy of a puppy. When the harness is on, so is he. He becomes all business and never falters from his duties. His guide skills are incredible and I couldn't be happier. I no longer find the need to correct where he is going. I just say the word and he knows.

I wanted to thank you for helping me through the process and although it was a long journey it was well worth it. I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Family Reunion

Contributed by Megan Miller

Please enjoy another great post by frequent No Bones About It contributor, Megan Miller.

My Guide Dog, Pasta, was born November 29, 2004 to Wilka and Caddy, both of whom produced great dogs. After a battery of tests, she was given the high honor of being chosen to be a breeder for GDB. She had her first litter on September 14, 2006, but that litter consisted of only one puppy, a female black lab named Quiche. Quiche was later career changed. However, Pasta’s contributions to GDB were not over.

Pasta and her second litter of pups
On May 14, 2007, Pasta gave birth to her second litter. She had difficulty during her delivery, but four puppies were born. Sadly, two had congenital problems. However, the two surviving puppies, a female black lab named Portia and a male black lab named Purcell, soon went off to their puppy raising homes. Since Pasta had such small litters and had trouble in her second delivery, the breeding department felt it was best to retire her from the breeding program. However, luckily for me, the training department was able to take her back into training to become a guide. This is very rare since dogs can only be put back into training within the first year of being named a breeder. Pasta just made it!

On January 10, 2008, I received the best late Christmas present I could ever get when I was presented with Pasta. I was very excited to hear she was a mama dog and looked forward to somehow hearing about her puppies who were in training, even though I didn’t know how I would be able to. A few months after our graduation, I began attending local puppy club meetings, and once the leader found out Pasta had pups in training, she began sending me the phase reports. I loved reading them and seeing how her puppies flew through the phases and was sure to update Pasta of their progress. Once I learned from Pasta’s puppy raisers that her puppies had been placed in class, I wished I would have been able to attend their graduations, but I was unable to do so. But I always hoped I would meet one or both of them some day.

On December 12, 2009, that wish became a reality at a holiday party put on by the Orange County puppy raising clubs. As I sat and listened to graduates introduce themselves and their dogs, I gasped as I heard a woman introduce her dog, Purcell. It was Pasta's baby! I knew then and there that I had to meet him and try to get photos. I asked one of the raisers at our table if she could help facilitate an introduction, and quickly learned that Purcell’s handler would love to meet us. So, off we went to see Pasta’s son!

Pasta, Purcell and Megan
I honestly think they remembered each other. Pasta loves dogs and was being kind of silly that day with all the excitement and had several times tried to do little lunges to say hi to dogs she thought should be her friend. But with Purcell, she didn’t really lunge or go crazy. She just started licking him all over the face and wagging her tail excitedly. Purcell did the same. The only really goofy thing Pasta did was lick Purcell's handler across the face, as if to say, thanks for taking such good care of my boy! Pasta and Purcell just walked around in a circle, sniffing and licking each other, while continually wagging their tails. It was great to see!

The photographer at the party took some photos of of all of us; thanks to him, we have some great mementos of this reunion.

When it was time for Purcell and his handler to leave, Pasta wanted to go with them. She tried to follow them out the door. It was very touching. So, Pasta and I had a very great surprise that day. It was wonderful to see what a great dog Pasta brought into the world, and it was a very special experience to have both mother and son together as working guides in one place at the same time. It was a very rare treat indeed!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Food Rewards Are Fun!

This is a fun little anecdote submitted to us by GDB alumna Tiffany Jolliff:

Tiffany with Santana and Railey
My first guide dog, Santana, has been retired since November of 2008. I now have a successor guide named Railey (all three are pictured). However, this story concerns Santana.

I had gone to bed and taken Railey with me. I was almost asleep when I heard my cell phone ring. I answered it, and my dad asked me if I had fed Santana earlier that evening. Confused, I replied that I had and thought nothing more of it. The next day, Dad told me the story behind the phone call.

Santana was in the living room trying to communicate with my parents. She kept looking into the kitchen and back at my parents. She was jumping up and down, wagging her tail, and generally getting more and more excited. My dad said she even resorted to howling at the top of her lungs several times.

Finally, Dad decided to follow Santana into the kitchen. She tore into the kitchen and sat purposefully in front of the refrigerator. (On top of the fridge is a giant box of dog treats.) As Dad watched, Santana began doing her obedience routine all by herself. She sat, laid down, sat back up, and laid back down. Then, she sat and stared daggers at the treats until Dad got one for her. I'd say that those food rewards really do work, even with retired guides!

Aww! And we think Santana has earned treat or two in her retirement! Thanks for sharing Tiffany!

Seeing the Picture from the Puppy Raisers' Eyes

Contributed by Dianne B. Phelps

Guide Dog puppy Reyna
A few months ago, I received an email from Stephanie Perkins, one of the puppy raisers on the GDB Lounge email list. We discovered that I lived just a couple blocks from where she was working one day a week. So, we decided to meet for lunch to get to know one another. Reyna, the yellow Lab pup Stephanie and her family are co-raising (pictured), and my working yellow Lab Guide, Hibiscus, curled up under the table for a nice snooze while Stephanie and I visited.

Stephanie shared with me the fact that this is a family commitment on the part of the puppy raisers. As she described her experiences with her puppies, I was once again struck by the difference we see in our dogs as they meet us in class with the new techniques being used with the pups. Our dogs are more ready than ever before because of the social exposure and special handling techniques they experience as pups.

As our friendship has continued, Stephanie asked me to attend an outing with her puppy raising group, The Contra Costa County Puppy Raising Club. All together, nine puppies and their raisers and three of us with working guides (myself and Hibiscus, Vicki Kennedy with guide Angela, Judy Hemmer with guide Tamiko) joined in the fun. Angela and Tamiko had been raised in this group, and while Hibiscus (who had been bred before becoming a guide) was with her breeder-keepers, she attended obedience sessions with the group to keep up her very important skills. Stephanie's Husband, Tony, who takes just as much care in this work, was with us on this outing, and many of the puppies had multiple family members working with them.

Dianne Phelps and Hibiscus at the airport
We all boarded the BART train in Walnut Creek and rode the train all the way to San Francisco International Airport where we got off and walked (pictured). This walk was designed to expose these tiny puppies in training to all sorts of surfaces - some shiny, some rough, some carpeted, up stairs and down, in and out of elevators, through doors, around people and luggage and moving cleaning carts. We popped into a conference room for a quick lunch and a bit of talk, and even went through a simulation of a TSA airport security check. The grown guides were eager to show off for the pups and their raiser, and we three working guide dog handlers were so touched and amazed to watch these little puppies taking in all of these busy experiences, all well behaved and doing their best to do what was asked of them. We then made our way back to the BART station for the long trip home and some warm cozy beds for some tired puppies and guides.

Glenda and Wendy
Recently, Stephanie and Tony and their son, Tyler, shared with me the culmination of their work with their previous pup Wendy's graduation. Graduation is the goal toward which every puppy raiser works toward with such mixed emotions (Wendy is pictured with her new partner, Glenda Johnson). On one hand, all puppy raisers want their puppy to make it, but on the other, it is so difficult to lovingly give them up, knowing they will stay with their new forever person.

I had listened to Stephanie speak of the special relationship and bond she and her family had experienced with Wendy and how she worried that just the right loving person would receive her. She even worried about her little Wendy being at GDB and experiencing the kennel life for a period of time. As I listened to her, I realized that her concerns and feelings are just like those of us graduates who face having their guide at GDB or in any kennel situation which separates us for any reason. The fact is, the human-canine bond experienced by those of us connected with GDB is probably surpassed by nothing else in this world. The love of puppy-raisers, staff instructors and alumni for these dogs is something palpable and tangible that we share together. Without our puppy raisers, the dedication of the instructors, and the care given to both pups and dogs alike by GDB's veterinary staff, we would not have such a phenomenal program. As a graduate working my eighth guide dog, I can only say a heart felt thank you!

Listen Up: These Pups are Great Reading Companions

Contributed by Leslie Graham

Elsa and Arbuckle at the library
Arbuckle and Elsa love to hang out and play with each other, but when they are at the library, they are all business. They are there to listen to stories. No, the librarians do not read to the dogs. School children, from 1st-5th grades, read to them.

The Danville Paws to Read program is “staffed” by Therapy Dogs from the Valley Humane Society in Pleasanton, Calif., but these two dogs have other jobs, too.

Elsa is a GDB breeder and has to take breaks from listening to have a litter now and again. She lives with her breeder custodian, Sue Day, who is also a puppy raiser, currently raising Dusky. Arbuckle is a career change pup and is also a GDB Ambassador Dog. He was adopted by his puppy raiser, Leslie Graham, who is now raising her 7th puppy, Cate.

Both of these black Labrabor Retrievers help show the community just what great dogs come out of the Guide Dog puppy raising program!

Dreaming of a White Christmas

One of Lania's puppies
Puppy raiser and breeding stock custodian Ruth Cattaneo is enjoying her holidays in quite a unique way. She's the wardrobe supervisor of the National Tour of Irving Berlin's White Christmas, and is with the tour as it travels the country bringing the time-honored classic to maybe a neighborhood near you! But while she's on the road, thoughts of GDB and her breeder dog Lania are forefront in her mind during this season of giving. She has organized a unique fundraiser in honor of Lania's first litter of pups (Lania and her new pups are pictured here). In Ruth's own words:

Sarah (my daughter) and I began raising puppies when she was in junior high school. We've raised seven dogs. Four of our pups are currently active guides, working in locales all across the country (Portland, Ore., Lake Oswego, Ore., Boston and Kansas City). Lania is our first breeder and is very special to me. She is the most athletic of all the dog's we've had - I plan on doing agility training with her when I get home.

Logo: Irving Berlin's White Christmas
For now, I am traveling with the National Tour of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. It is a wonderful tap dance musical that I call "candy for the eyes." It is a seasonal show that runs from November thru January. [As the wardrobe supervisor] I am in charge of over 300 pieces: hats, jewelry, shoes etc. The costumes are colorful and lots of fun. I started in New York in October to prepare the show for tour. We will be visiting the midwest section of the country: Omaha, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Michigan State University, St. Louis, Louisville and Kansas City. I'm hoping to see Baja, one of the pups I raised, in Kansas City when we are there.

To raise a little money for GDB, I plan to put pictures of Lania and her puppies on the crew and cast bulletin board. Then before the shows in the evening I will make an announcement over the speaker to our cast and crew letting them know that whatever is donated in total I will match (example: if two hundred dollars is donated then I will match it with another two hundred dollars). There are two little girls in the show who saw the pictures of the puppies and got so excited that they've agreed to take the "can" around and help collect any donations.

Thank you Ruth for your creativity and thoughtfulness!

Lania with her first litter of  pups

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ringing In the Holidays: Festive Holiday Luncheon, 2009

Puppy raiser Ellen Aguirre with yellow Lab Addison
It doesn't REEEALLY start to feel like the holidays around here until we've had our Festive Holiday Luncheon. Held just a couple days ago in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square, GDB's 33rd Annual Festive Holiday Luncheon kicked off the season in style. 829 people were in attendance, and the event raised more than $180,000.

CEO Nancy Gardner and GDB aluna Margot Roberts
The day's festivities began with an intimate reception for our Legacy Society members. Legacy members were treated to a keynote address by GDB alumna Margot Roberts, and noshed on tasty appetizers and champagne. (Margot is pictured above with GDB's CEO Nancy Gardner.) From there, the event progressed to the hotel's Grand Ballroom, where guests enjoyed a fabulous lunch and program. GDB alumna and board member Vickie Kennedy and her guide Angela, along with Angela's puppy raiser Gayle Bittner (pictured below), regaled the crowd with tales of how Angela helped to forge a lasting friendship between the two women and their families. The highlight of the program was the ever-anticipated puppy delivery; four young pups were delivered to the eager arms of their new puppy raisers (Ellen Aguirre, top, got her new puppy, yellow Lab Addison).

Gayle Bittner, Vickie Kennedy and Guide Dog Angela
It was a festive day all right! Please take a moment to view our photo slideshow of the event, found at this link on our Flickr site: GDB's 33rd Annual Festive Holiday Luncheon Photos.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Newshounds!

Puppy raiser Peggy Sundstrom. Photo: The SF Examiner
  • Service Dogs Appeal to Wide Audience (The San Francisco Examiner): Featuring puppy raiser Peggy Sundstrom (pictured above; photo from SF Examiner)
  • Vacaville Pair Train Service Dogs (The Reporter, Vacaville, CA): Family inspired to raise Guide Dog puppies by their uncle/brother-in-law, GDB alumnus Karl Vidt
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind (Volunteer Experiences, Inspiring Stories - blog): Feature on GDB puppy raiser and author Suzanne Woods Fisher
  • Rowing Through the Darkness (The American Spirit, CBS National News): Featuring GDB alumna and world-class rower Aerial Gilbert and her Guide Dog , Splash
  • Everyday Heroes (KMGH-TV/ABC 7, Denver, CO): Featuring puppy raisers Bill and Caroline Wriston

We've Got Mail: 2-week Class is a Hit!

Here's a letter we received from one of our students, Sylvia Munoz, sharing her enthusiasm for our new 2-week class training program.

Good Morning,

What an incredible two weeks it has been! So different from when I last was here. I do like the new training schedule and the new training techniques - the food rewards and the clicker training.

Sylvia Munoz and her new Guide Dog, Nina
I want you to know that the team of three instructors that we worked with were and are incredible. They definitely know their job and the camaraderie that they shared amongst themselves was great. As you know, being away from home and sharing anytime with people you do not know can be stressful. Pat, Vanessa, and Melissa made it a positive and less stressful experience. I did not experience this last time I was here nine years ago.

I mostly worked with Pat Kelly and think he is a fabulous instructor. He is patient, easy-going, humorous, but yet gives great input and suggestions. He matched me with a great dog. I had requested a male yellow lab because that is what I had twice before and that is what had worked for me. When Pat and Vanessa called me a week-and-a-half before training and asked whether I would consider a female or another color of lab, I told them that I really had three requirements and beyond that, I would leave it in their hands. I needed a short-haired dog, a fast walker--my last dog was a cruiser--and I needed a smaller dog because I do a lot of traveling. And, with that, I got Nina. She is the first guide I have worked that I feel like we have worked together for months already.

Please keep up the high standards for trainers. I look forward to returning to Guide Dogs in ten years.

Sincerely,

Sylvia Munoz

Snapshots!

Here is a sampling of the wonderful photo submissions that we've gotten in the past few weeks. You can check out all of the recent submissions on our Flickr site, as well as our Flickr Group Photo Pool. (Remember - you can submit photos straight to the Group Photo Pool!).

Guide Dog Langer
Just in time for all this cold weather (grin), Guide Dog Langer, age 9 1/2, at the beach. Submitted by Gary Norman.

Black Lab puppy Avalon
Avalon in her puppy coat. Uploaded to the GDB Photo Pool by traceyirv.

A golden retriever puppy
One of the six fluffy Taylor x Kaylee Golden pups, Tahiti, at 8 weeks old. Submitted by Suzanne Bria.

Breeders Digest, 10.1.09-10.30.09

Three baby yellow Labrador Retrievers
Here's all of our new arrivals from October 1, 2009 through October 30, 2009. To see photos of these litters, please visit GDB's Flickr site, Littermate Photos.

Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers
  • 10/2/09 Atrus x Brigitte – 2 males, 4 females
  • 10/4/09 Hardy x Charisma – 3 males, 2 females
  • 10/12/09 Dutch x Lyric – 5 males, 4 females
  • 10/12/09 Kentucky x Blossom – 3 males, 5 females
  • 10/21/09 Baker x Harbor – 4 males, 4 females
  • 10/23/09 Dylan x Trinity – 1 male, 1 female
  • 10/24/09 Jenkins x Melody – 3 males, 4 females
  • 10/27/09 Jay x Georgette – 4 males, 3 females
  • 10/29/09 Atrus x Arcadia – 3 males, 2 females
  • 10/29/09 Tiburon x Germany – 3 males, 4 females
  • 10/30/09 Kentucky x Sunset – 5 males, 2 females

New Breeders

Labrador Retrievers
  • Aqua – raised in CA
  • Dallas – raised in CO
  • Glee – raised in OR
  • Luau – raised in CA

Classifieds

Dear readers: We're pleased to announce a new feature for this blog, a Classified Ads section highlighting products for sale by various puppy raising clubs and/or alumni. In most cases, the puppy club products are being sold as a way to raise funds to help offset their club's operating expenses. We hope that you'll support the clubs and our alumni, and enjoy the products that they have available. All Classified Ads will be given a label of "classifieds" - you can click on the classifieds label link (right hand column of this page) to bring up all Classified Ad posts.

If you are a puppy club or an alumnus with an item for sale, please submit all relevant information (product name and description, pricing, contact information and preferably a photo of the item) to information[at]guidedogs.com. All products are reviewed prior to posting; we will notify you when your product has been accepted for inclusion in the Classified Ads.

Leashes and Dog Handling Equipment

Gentle Leader Bait Bags: These bait bags feature a super strong closeable hinge, water resisent lining, two additional pockets, belt clip and waist strap. Available in red, blue and black. $14 each plus shipping. To order, contact Mary Flynn/Puppies with a Plan-Fresno at 559-288-0029 or mef22[at]cvip.net.
Bait bagBait bag


GDB-style leather leashes: $23 includes shipping. Contact Traci Holmes/Born To Lead, (801) 388-3493, or email: traciholmes2002[at]msn.com.

Latigo leather training leashes with brass clips and rings: $25, including shipping. Contact Cheryl Anderson/Santa Cruz County Puppy Raisers, (831) 335-3183, or e-mail: aeanders[at]pacbell.net.

Gripper Leashes: Because these specialty leashes are made of cotton-poly blend material with rubber gripping, they're great for wet weather conditions and for working with stronger dogs. Special pricing for GDB puppy raisers, $27 each. Also available in shorter 3' length with "O" ring, $13 each. $4 shipping per leash. Both available in green or black. Contact Sightmasters South Puppy Raising Club, (503) 659-5847, or e-mail: yellowboys3[at]msn.com.

Assorted items

Dog Lovers' Cookbook: LA Southwest Guide Dog Raisers is offering its Official Recipe Book--for dog lovers. Pamper yourself while cooking using this 8x10 charming photo gallery of delicious favorite recipes presented in a way to make you smile. The perfect gift for dog-loving friends and family, too. You don't have to cook to enjoy this book! First printing sold out quickly. Your gift directly benefits GDB's kennel renovation project. Order now for only $12 each (plus $2.50 shipping). For ordering information and a sample recipe, see guidedogpups.com or contact Pat at (310) 379-4233.

Puppy Overnight Bags: These black travel bags are ideal for taking along supplies for any puppy socializing trip. $12 each and now available online through the Willamette Valley Paws for People Puppy Raising Club. Visit their website for photos and details: http://wvpawsforpeople.org/overnight-bags.html.

Puppy Coat Sleeve: Made of soft and durable green fabric with "Guide Dog Puppy" in white lettering and black binding on the sides. Sturdy velcro around the front jacket strap. Has an inside pocket for ID card or clean up bags. $7 each plus shipping. Visit our website for more information: goldrushguides.org. Contact Jerri Bitler/Gold Rush Guides of Sacramento, (916) 635-8308, or email: pupraiser4gdb[at]yahoo.com.

Specialty Items: Sidekicks for Sight of Douglas County, Colorado, is offering specialty items through their club website. Magnetic ribbons, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodie pullovers, zippered hoodies and zippered totebags. Visit their online store for photos, pricing and availability: sidekicksforsight.bravehost.com/store.html.

Custom Dog Portrait: Painted on 4 1/4" tiles from your photo. $30 including shipping. Great for gifts or as a keepsake of your guide dog puppy. This is not a photo put onto the tile--an artist paints with glaze from your photo, and it is then fire finished. Will e-mail examples on request. Contact Cheryl Anderson/Santa Cruz County Puppy Raisers, (831) 335-3183, or email: aeanders[at]pacbell.net.

Bitch Britches...and more! The best item to have for in-home boarding of intact females in season. These washable cotton britches come in one size, and fit most GDB puppies. Available in a variety of colors and fabric patterns for $10 per pair plus shipping. New for 2008, ruffled britches, $12 each. Also available: flat unstuffed faux fleece toys with no squeaker for baby puppies under 4 months. Available in a variety of shapes; footballs, baseballs, fire hydrants, shoes, stars and many more. $1 each plus shipping. Contact Becky Bain/Leading With Love Puppy Raising Club, (719) 380-8816, or e-mail: rbain9[at]earthlink.net.

Long lines: 20', strong, yet soft and comfortable to handle. Perfect for recall practice or dragline. $10 each, shipping included. Orders of 10 or more $9 each, shipping included. Contact Janet Gift/Yolo Eyes for Others, (530) 758-4200, or e-mail: janetgift[at]aol.com.

Bandanas: Available in 5 different colors. Choose "Career Change," "Breeder," "Retired Guide or Breeder," or "Puppy Raising," embroidered below the puppy raising logo. $12 each. Contact Jerri Bitler/Gold Rush Guides of Sacramento, (916) 635-8308, or e-mail: pupraiser4gdb[at]yahoo.com.

Bumper Stickers: "Future Guide Dog on Board," and/or "I'm Proud to be a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser," green lettering on white. $2 each plus shipping. Ask about quantity discounts. Contact Beth Nelson/TLC Guide Dog Club, (970) 495-9903, or email to: bnelson2312[at]frii.com.

Dog Training/Dog Sitting: If you live in Contra Costa County, Calif., and are in need of dog services, consider Diablo Doggies. Owned and operated by Mo Vashel, former licensed Guide Dog instructor and puppy raiser, Diablo Doggies offers services that can help your dog be the happy, healthy and well behaved, including adventure walks, training, vacation sitting, grooming, and courier services to your dog's vet. Visit www.diablodoggies.com for more information.

Note: Items featured in Classifieds are not sold by GDB; ads are posted as a courtesy only. GDB is not responsible for the quality of the products nor the customer service you receive when purchasing from an advertiser. Any disputes between purchaser and seller must be resolved between the respective parties, without the assistance of GDB.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Events Recap

A puppy raiser and her new pup at the Oregon Fall Luncheon
Were you there? Did you love it? We're talking about our 11th Annual Oregon Fall Luncheon, held in early November at the Oregon Zoo in Portland. The sold-out “friendraiser” had 330 guests and raised $60,000. Event proceeds benefit programs at our Oregon campus. The luncheon was emceed by GDB alumnus and Board member Morgan Watkins with his guide Will, and featured guest speaker Erin Rumer with her Guide Dog Provo. There was a special raffle where the Grand Prize was naming a GDB puppy, and as always, the highlight of the afternoon was the puppy delivery where puppy raisers were presented with their new charges. All in all, it was a fabulous day, and we hope that you can join us next year! To see all of the photos from the event, please visit our Flickr site at the following link: Oregon Fall Luncheon Photos.

Two puppy raisers and their pup at the Dogs on the Square event
Later in the month, The Corner Store on historic Sonoma Square hosted our 2nd Annual "Dogs on the Square" event where GDB supporters could shop and dine in support of GDB. The event featured special holiday merchandise; a book signing by Guide Dog puppy raiser and author Suzanne Woods Fisher; refreshments; complimentary wine tasting by Highway 12 Wines, and plenty of Guide Dogs and puppies! Thanks not only to The Corner Store, but to the following restaurants that participated by donating a portion of their sales from the evening to Guide Dogs for the Blind: Cafe La Haye, Della Santina’s Trattoria, Maya Restaurant, red grape restaurant. To see more photos from the event, please visit our Flickr site at the following link: Dogs on the Square Photos.

We've Got Mail: A Mother's Gratitude

We love getting your cards, letters and emails. This is an email we received recently from Renee Bevan, the mother of a young GDB graduate. Her words eloquently describe the difference a Guide Dog has made in her son's life, and we thought it was worth passing along. In her words:

John and Houston
Hi there,

My son was in one of your summer classes - he graduated the end of July. He was paired with the most amazing dog - Houston. John started college in the fall and Houston lives in the dorm with John. Houston is the most popular student on campus. John is in the orchestra and when they have concerts, Houston is right up there on the stage with him. The entire campus has embraced having John and Houston on campus (Lynchburg College) and they respect the rules and requirements of a guide dog.

I have had and trained a lot of dogs in my life and I have never seen or met a dog nearly as clever as Houston. He transitions well from our home to college, he gets along with our pet dogs, but most importantly he takes great care of John. John is *very* regimented and consistent with Houston with respect to feeding, relieving, training... and Houston clearly is thriving with their routine. I don't know how your selection process works with respect to the matching of the dog with the person but this pair was a perfect match. Having Houston has given John more confidence to travel to new places and he travels much faster and more efficiently with Houston.

I am attaching a picture of John and Houston that I snapped when John was on his way to his first college concert. It speaks volumes about the confidence, independence and pride that both of them have. They were walking so fast we couldn't keep up! I hope you enjoy it and I just wanted to thank you for this most amazing gift to my son.

Sincerely,

Renee Bevan

Retired Guide Still Making a Difference

We recently heard from GDB alumna Deborah Armstrong of Milpitas, Calif., about the great work that her retired guide, Boston, is doing as a therapy dog. She writes:

Boston, my retired guide, is now the pride and joy of Bob, my wonderful sighted husband. Boston and Bob are both certified by Therapy Dogs International.

I like to show GDB staff that even when a dog retires, it is still loved and can make people happy. My third dog, Glade, the one before Boston, also did therapy work, and lived to be almost 17 years old!

I am happily working Bev, my fifth guide. I work full-time at 112-acre Deanza community college in Cupertino. I am responsible for helping disabled students solve their technology problems all over campus, which means I have to run between many buildings like a competent tech who knows how to fix your computer! Zipping around with a confident Guide Dog sure doesn't hurt the image!

I've now had Guide Dogs for 28 years, and I have never stopped being grateful. There is no way I could do my job, my volunteer work, or function as an effective homemaker without the furry express!

The daughter of a patient posted a video on YouTube of Boston's recent visit with her ailing mother. I think it is particularly important for your hard-working instructors to see this video. None of my dogs ever stopped being useful when they retired, and I pledge that this will always be so.

To see the video of Boston at work as a therapy dog, please visit:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Drum roll please... GDB's Online Gift Shop Now Open!

We're excited to announce that just in time for holiday shopping, our revamped online Gift Shop is now officially open for business! Check it out here: guidedogs.com/shop.

As members of our Guide Dog Family, you're our very best customers and we want to do everything we can to ensure that you have the best shopping experience ever on our site. We've reduced our prices to streamline the checkout process--there's no longer any need to calculate discounts. There's just one, low, everyday price for all customers.

As we get up and running, it's important for you to give us your feedback, so please let us know if you have any problems with your online order. You can contact us at (800) 324-4169 or via email at store@guidedogs.com.

So start shopping today and help spread the word about GDB! Here's a few holiday items you might want to consider:

Holiday card: 
A lighthearted illustration of three Guide Dog pups romping with a snowman.
Comes in a set of 10 with envelopes; available blank inside or with greeting. $6.50 per set.

2010 wall calendar
2010 wall calendar: Chock full of full-color photos; $12.

And for even more shopping options, be sure to check out the Puppy Raising Club Classifieds section of our website!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Newshounds!

Here's a roundup of some of the news stories featuring GDB this past month. Once again, our people and puppies are making headlines!

Puppy raiser Miranda Robertson, with puppy Candace

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Breeders Digest

A pile of yellow Lab puppiesHere's all of our new arrivals from August 1, 2009-September 30, 2009. To see photos of these litters, please visit GDB's Flickr site: Littermate Photos.

Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers
  • 8/1/09 David x Calistoga – 4 males, 3 females
  • 8/6/09 David x Racine – 4 males, 3 females
  • 8/7/09 Dutch x Grove – 3 males, 4 females
  • 8/13/09 Atrus x Bruna – 2 males, 7 males
  • 8/14/09 Samuel x Sarita – 6 males, 3 females
  • 8/27/09 Dylan x Mamie – 2 males, 3 females
  • 8/28/09 Jenkins x Rozzie – 3 males, 2 females
  • 8/28/09 Kentucky x Beverly – 4 males, 5 females
  • 8/29/09 Cubby x Paulina – 5 females
  • 8/31/09 Denzel x Della – 4 males, 3 females
  • 9/18/09 Tiburon x Anjou – 1 male, 6 females
  • 9/19/09 Cabby x Darlene – 2 males, 2 females
  • 9/19/09 Cubby x Dorcella – 3 males, 3 females
  • 9/26/09 Dutch x Doralee – 6 females
  • 9/28/09 Jay x Anista – 4 males, 2 females
Golden Retrievers
  • 8/26/09 GDF’s Mazel x Lamara - 8 males, 3 females
  • 9/3/09 Lance x Chita - 2 males, 4 females
  • 9/6/09 Taylor x Kaylee - 6 females

New Breeders

Labrador Retrievers
  • Simone – raised in CO
  • Suzanne – raised in CA

Monday, November 9, 2009

Snapshots!

Here is a sampling of the fun, adorable, silly, fantastic photo submissions that we've gotten recently. You can check out all of the recent submissions on our Flickr site, as well as our Flickr Group Photo Pool. (Remember - you can submit photos straight to the Group Photo Pool! Come on - join in the fun - submit your photos today!).

Puppy Fenwick underneath a brilliant rainbow in the sky
Puppy Fenwick - the gold at the end of the rainbow!
Submitted by Danny Epperson.

A sleeping Lassie
A sleeping Lassie.
Submitted by Sharon Clegg.

Yellow Lab Kingston with a snow shovel
Kingston, 12 .5 weeks old, trying to help shovel the snow from the first Colorado snow storm of the season. Submitted by Andrea Loughry.

Two children reading to a Golden Retriever
The Have Paws Will Travel puppy raising club of Arapahoe County, Colo., has been providing a "Doggie Tales" program at the Arapahoe Libraries for several years. The club's puppies in training, career change dogs and retired guides visit the libraries where children are able to read to them aloud to develop their reading skills. Sofia Moyn from the Eloise May Library reports that "it is a very successful program, and the kids enjoy it very much."

My Guide Dog Puppy, Stanton

By Shannon Patterson

Shannon, age 9, is raising her first Guide Dog puppy. Her 4th grade class was given an assignment to write an essay about a pet; here is what she wrote about her puppy.

Shannon and puppy Stanton
My dog Stanton is a guide dog puppy in training. We will train him for a year. I got Stanton from a truck that comes down from San Rafael. I got Stanton when he was 10 weeks old.

Stanton is a yellow Labrador retriever. He has loving brown eyes and floppy, soft, and smooth ears. He also has gigantic paws.

When Stanton is hot he will lie on the tile and drink his water from his water bowl. He eats Science Diet for dinner and breakfast. He can’t have regular dog treats. He has to have a piece of his regular food instead.

Stanton is just a puppy and plays with my other dog. He also likes to play with his Kong, Nylabone, and tug toys. He knows how to sit, down, lets go, kennel, come, and more.

I love Stanton. I hope when he goes through additional training he will ace the tests and be able to graduate. If he graduates he will be partnered with a blind person. If Stanton does not make it we will get him back.

Navigating Through Life: Adventures with Pasta

Black Lab guide Pasta
The following is a submission from Megan Miller, a 24 year-old student at CalState Long Beach working toward a masters degree in criminal justice (she received her bachelors degree in criminal justice in 2008). She is working with her very first Guide Dog, a female black Lab named Pasta.

I cannot begin to describe what a tremendous impact Pasta has had on my life. She makes all my travels so much easier and makes me feel so much safer and more independent than I have ever felt before. I wanted to share one such instance that we had today, on what some would call a normal walk. But for me, it was again proof of how amazing Pasta is and how much she has enhanced my life, for I would never have taken this walk without her.

I decided to take Pasta out for a nice evening walk. I hadn't really been out all day since I had been doing school work, and it was a nice day. I wanted to take advantage of it and give Pasta some exercise. Initially, I thought we'd just go to the main part of campus and turn around and come back. Along the way, I changed my mind, but I'll get to that.

When we got to our first street crossing, I of course stopped to listen for traffic. I heard a car, but it was far down the street so we went ahead and started across. But halfway through the crossing, a car coming toward us sped up and drove right in front of us.

Pasta stopped dead in her tracks! Good girl! She got lots of praise and kibble for that, and I petted and hugged her once we got to the curb.

Once we were across the street and heading to walk toward the main part of campus, I thought we might as well try something new instead of just going to campus for no reason. I got brave, which is kind of rare for me (smile), and decided that instead of crossing the next street we came to like usual, we'd turn left and walk up a new street. I figured we'd try to do a block or two and make our way back to the dorms.

I had no idea what to expect on this street, since I'd only ever crossed it - not explored it. I knew about how far we'd need to go before turning back toward the dorms and trusted that Pasta and I would figure it out even if we got disoriented. Pasta and I have taken walks to a semi busy street that also intersected with this street, so I figured that we'd eventually run into it and get back on track. In addition, even though the sun wasn't out, light was still visible in the West, so that could help me get oriented as well.

There ended up being lots of parking lot entrances to cross right away. Pasta did great stopping at each one. But then, we ended up walking on a sidewalk that had a parking lot on the left and sort of a wall on the right. Weird, but we kept going. Then, the sidewalk stopped. It turned into just a thin island with bushes. On the right of it was a fence, so we couldn't trail it like we were supposed to. I was hoping the sidewalk would come back, so I risked it and had her walk in the parking lot with us as close against the side of the island as we could be. I didn't know what else to do.

We walked along for awhile and still no sidewalk emerged. I ended up seeing the parking structure to our right at some point, which was helpful since I knew it was directly to the east of the dorms. I knew we needed to turn left, but of course, being in a massive parking lot, we couldn't just go straight left. So, for quite some time, we zigzagged through the lot, trailing the backs of parked cars as best we could.

It was kind of nerve-wracking, but I was surprisingly calm. It was really good for us, I think. I'm nervous about parking lots so it was good for me to have to deal with them. I knew we'd get home eventually because I knew the general direction we needed to go and knew that once we got close enough, Pasta would know where to go, too (if she didn't already!). She sure acted like she knew where we were, and I trusted that she'd get me home. I just kept occasionally saying, good girl Pasta, let's go home.

Eventually, and I'm not quite sure how, we ended up stepping up onto the curb and sidewalk at the corner just north of the dorms. Cool! Again, I'm not quite sure how we did it, but hurray, we did!

Pasta got lots of praise and kibbles along the way for staying so focused and doing such a great job. She got plenty more once we got to that familiar corner! The final stretch was smooth sailing, and Pasta flew down the sidewalk. Woo hoo! I would never have taken that walk through the never-ending parking lots without Pasta by my side. Great job Pasta - I love you!

Just Another Day at Guide Dogs... Through an Intern’s Eyes

Hello! My name is Kim Chapot and I’m a senior at San Francisco State University. I just joined the GDB team as a marketing intern and I’m loving it. There are so many friendly staff members and volunteers, but most of all, so many LOVABLE dogs!!

Last Friday I got the rare opportunity to volunteer in the Whelping Clinic, a place where all these adorable pooches enter the world.

My duties included weighing newborn puppies, feeding moms and pups, cleaning dog runs, performing physical check-ups on the moms, and cleaning ears and teeth. I also assisted with some of the boarded dogs by giving baths and bringing them to the vet.

My day ended with the birth of a beautiful female black lab. The mom did very well throughout labor and couldn’t wait to cuddle with her pups!

I really enjoyed my hands-on experience and being able to observe the compassion the Kennel staff have for each and every dog they care for on a daily basis. GDB is a great place for an internship!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lost Puppy Update: Gannon is Found Safe and Sound!

Guide Dog puppy GannonTHIS JUST IN: Gannon has been found! He is on his way home with his puppy raiser after the family that found him saw a story on the local news. Those are all the details we have for now, but we got our happy ending! Thanks again everyone for your concern and assistance - now we can all have a GREAT weekend!

Lost Puppy Update: Reward Now Being Offered

Black Lab puppy GannonIt's been a week since Guide Dog puppy Gannon went missing; unfortunately, we still don't have any good leads as to his whereabouts. We're working with the local media in the Lodi/Stockton area, and the GDB community has rallied to help in the search as well, posting flyers around town, posting notices online, calling veterinarians, shelters and the like. We're grateful for the outpouring of support. At this point, thanks to many individuals who have come forward with financial offers to help, GDB is now able to offer a generous reward for Gannon's safe return. Please help us spread the word, and contact us immediately at (800) 295-4050 with any leads. Thank you.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lost Puppy Update

Black Lab puppy GannonHi all - thanks so much for all of your concern regarding Gannon, the missing puppy. Unfortunately, we still don't have any good news. We're working diligently in the area to find him, and we've got the media helping us in the search. Please see an article that appeared in today's Stockton Record (link below). Of course, we will post any updates here if/when we get them; you can also follow us via our Facebook Fan Page or Twitter for up-to-the-minute information.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Newshounds!

The cast and crew of Curiosity QuestToday, the cast and crew from “Curiosity Quest” filmed and conducted interviews on our California campus for an upcoming show about Guide Dogs. They interviewed staff, raisers, grads... and got plenty of puppy love! “Curiosity Quest” is an upbeat, family, educational program that explores what viewers are curious about. “Curiosity Quest” airs on PBS stations across the country. The program has an estimated audience of 50 million people. Check your local listings for show times. No air date has been set yet, but if you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook, we'll keep you in the loop! You can check out some photos of while they were here on our Flickr site.

Thinking About Accessibility

Morgan Watkins in his office
GDB Board member Morgan Watkins is a retired information technology director from the University of Texas at Austin. In his career, as in his daily life, he uses adaptive technology to accomplish routine tasks like surfing the internet, checking email, reading a book, etc. He's an expert on software accessibility, among other things. The following are exchanges from a couple of Morgan's colleagues on the topic of accessibility, including several informative videos on the subject.

From Daniel A. Updegrove, consultant on IT in higher education:
Whenever I walk through cities with my rolling suitcase behind me, I'm aware of how wonderful curb cuts are. (And I do this a fair amount these days, since I've found that walking from hotel to train or subway station can can take me past interesting parks, historical sites, contemporary architecture, and city life.)

But I don't think I ever would have understood the challenge of website/software accessibility if I hadn't worked in the same building with John and Morgan. Not only was I aware, on a daily basis, that my colleagues were sightless, but also they allowed me to observe and listen to their interactions with systems and services I was familiar with (the web, email, et al.) as well as assistive technology I wouldn't have known about or experienced (such as Jaws). One startling lesson was that John and Morgan could listen faster than I could read, whereas I'd assumed any long email or document put them at a significant disadvantage.

I wonder if the comparatively slow progress in deploying universal design on a broad scale is related to the fact that most designers, legislators, and purchasing managers have no understanding - or experience - of either disability or of the possibilities offered by assistive and universal design. Having done a lot of work over the years with models and simulation - and having been in a DC-10 simulator at FedEx headquarters in Memphis - I'm led to ask if it would be valuable to produce a set of disability and disability-remediation simulators that people could experience.

For example:
  • Make a cell phone call or order a book from Amazon with eyes closed
  • Navigate a website or city street that's recast as seen by someone who's color blind
  • Do ten everyday actions with your left hand, or with one hand, or ...
A high school friend of mine, now an MD, once walked around NYC with sliced up ping pong balls over his eyes to try to understand the experience of a blind pedestrian. People scoffed, "That's just Ted." Perhaps he was on to something.

From Glenda Sims, University of Texas at Austin, accessibility and web standards advocate:

Dan, you are right on target. I have found that often a few videos do the trick. A colleague of mine at University of Tennessee uses these videos to help her web design/developer classes understand the impact of accessibility. She says once her students have seen these videos they "just get it" and she never has to "sell accessibility" to them again. They become self-motivated to create accessibility as a standard part of all sites.

Links to videos; check them out to learn more:

A Day in the Life of... A Working Guide Dog

A working Guide Dog
Readers: This is the latest in our "Day in the Life" series. Click on the "A Day in the Life" label link to list the entire series (see Labels section, right hand side).

Hello Everyone!

I know it’s been a while since my last posting, but boy have I been busy! As you know, my partner Kevin and I graduated from Guide Dogs a few months ago, and we have been having a great time settling into our new life together.

The night after graduation we both slept like rocks! That was such a big day, getting to see my puppy raisers was so amazing, and they were so proud of me!

Then came a whirlwind of change! Kevin packed up his belongings and mine too, I guess I was going home with him! We boarded the class bus like we always did, but somehow this time it felt a little different. The next thing I knew we were at a huge, noisy place with metal birds swooping around. And then, you are never gonna believe this, we actually got into the belly of the big metal bird or as I learned later was called an airplane, and flew away! All I know is that one minute we were in San Francisco, a place that I was familiar with, and after a bit of a nap, we were in a place that was much warmer and the air felt heavy and had a million new smells.

When we got off the bird, oh I mean airplane, we were met with a great deal of excitement by a really nice lady who was very happy to see Kevin and fussed all over me too – I LIKE HER!!!! Together we drove to a pretty tree-lined part of town and pulled up to a house, much like the one I grew up in. Kevin reached down and scratched me behind the ears and said “welcome home little buddy.” I knew right then that this was my new home I would be sharing with Kevin, the nice lady who made a fuss over me, and oh my goodness (this is so cool!) - a cat named Mischief!

After a day of getting to know my new house, and working out my relationship with Mischief (Mischief is the boss, by the way, and lives up to her name), I was happy to settle down for a long snooze on my special fleece pad from school next to my partner Kevin and the nice lady who I found out is called Nancy.

But there hasn’t been much time to just hang out with Mischief, a couple days after we arrived it was time to get to work! In the mornings, after Kevin feeds me and takes me for a little walk, he harnesses me up and we hit the streets! Kevin really knows his way around town. He tells me which way to turn and I make sure we stay safe along the way.

As I came to find out, Kevin is a third grade school teacher. To get to work we walk about a half mile to a bus stop, board the bus, and then exit a few blocks from the school. Working together Kevin and I get to work on time every day. I can tell that it makes Kevin very happy to travel with me, I get lots of praise and petting, and sometimes even a treat, along the way!

Kevin’s job is really cool. I love being around all those kids all day, and they like it too! Sometimes, they have lessons that involve me, one of my favorites is when they have cooking class and make me cookies!!!

Kevin and I pretty much go everywhere together. Last night we went to the movies and it was sooo hard to ignore the popcorn that was just sitting there, on the floor, asking to be snapped up! And on Sunday we will go to church. I learned a couple weeks ago however, that I’m not supposed to sing along, although in my humble opinion, it did bring a much needed moment of comic relief to the morning service, or so it seemed when everyone had a big chuckle over my rendition of the hymn.

Well I’ve got to go now, I just heard Kevin pick up my harness in the other room – I wonder where we are going today…I can’t wait to find out!

F Litter Update: Faulkner's Final Adventures with His Puppy Raiser

Guide Dog puppy Faulkner
Guide Dog puppy Faulkner sends his mom one final dispatch from his puppy raising home. By now, Faulkner is at our Oregon campus, starting his training to be a Guide Dog! Good luck Faulkner!

Mama,

Faulkner and Faraja
My trip to Seattle was SO much fun!!! I got to meet all kinds of new people and even new dogs. My puppy raiser, Kate, and I even got to see my littermate, Faraja! He's looking great and absolutely loves his puppy raiser, Judy. He has a new buddy that Judy is raising named Magoo. We all got to greet each other and Kate shoved my brother and I together for pictures. She says that we look almost the same and that Faraja is just as sweet as I am. I got to go out to dinner with Kate and her friend and her dad at a really nice restraunt which was tons of fun. They all were really nice to me and, while all of the staff smiled at me, none of them tried to distract me from working. I was just happy to be out and about.

Since we've been home, life has not been too much quieter. We've been keeping really busy. Mostly with getting around to people so that they can say goodbye to me.

Nancy (Kate's mom) arranged it so that I could go to her office today for a very special thing. We gave out dog bone shaped cookies, Faulkner autographs, Faulkner love, and pictures with me for donations to a charity Nancy's office is supporting. We made over $20 in the hour and a half that I was there and Nancy's boss joked that I should be named volunteer of the year!

Can you believe that I'm leaving tomorrow to go back to Guide Dog school? In just about 23 hours I'll be getting on the puppy truck to go to Oregon! Kate has talked to the woman on the truck who's traveling with her husband to come pick me up. I'm going to get to meet all kinds of puppies when we get there! I know that Kate is feeling a little sad about me leaving. We've been through a lot together this past year and we have become very special in each other's lives. Kate wants to make sure that you know just how lucky she feels to have had me in her life, even for this short of a time. She says that everyone I meet thinks that I'm something pretty special and she can't wait to mee the incredibly lucky person that I get to spend the rest of my life working with.

There are pictures of Faraja and me as well as some pictures from my going away party at Nancy's office today. I'm sure that Kate will be sending you more pictures tomorrow or the next day as I embark on my puppy truck adventure. I can't wait to see what has everyone so excited for me at the other end of this jouney! I hear that there will be lots of food....

All my love,

Faulkner


Faulkner's baby photo
Mama Christine's response:

Hi Faulkner,

Thank you for all your news and pictures, I thought I'd add one of my favorite baby pictures of you as well. Please please Kate take a picture of Faulkner in front of the puppy truck. I hope it is the new truck with the picture Cathy took on the side of it. Since the F litter was the inspiration for that picture it would be so cool to have a picture of you and Kate and Franco and his family all together next to the side of the truck.

I know you are going to do well in training. It is great you got to play with Faraja. I know the bond between Faraja and Judy is very special. It was very hard for her to have Faraja career changed—you know how committed she is to Guide Dogs : )

Love,

Mama Christine

Tips for Holiday Travels with Your Pet

As the holidays approach many pet owners prepare to take their dogs on the road to visit friends and family. Here are some tips to keep your dog safe and comfortable while traveling:
  • A black Lab wearing a red Santa hatMake sure your dog is up to date on vaccines, flea control and heartworm preventative. Parasites may be more of a problem in the areas where you are traveling and prevention will not only keep your pet healthy but will ensure you don’t bring any unwelcome guests home with you!
  • Check your dog’s tags to see that they are still legible; consider putting one of those little cases on his collar that not only holds tags, but includes notes with travel contact information as well. GDB sells a tag silencer pouch in our gift shop that could carry additional information nicely; to order, call us at (800) 295-4050.
  • Having your pet permanently identified with a microchip or tattoo will give you peace of mind whenever you travel together. Keep your contact information updated with whichever registry you choose.
  • Accustom your dog to a crate at home before leaving. He will appreciate his cozy ‘home away from home’; your hosts may be more comfortable welcoming a canine visitor into their home knowing that he can be secured in his own bed when things get hectic.
  • Pack enough dog food for several days over your planned trip in case of unexpected delays. For dogs with sensitive stomachs, bringing along the water he is used to from home, or even bottled water, may prevent a GI upset.
  • Remember to take along any medications and supplements your dog may need and a coat or jacket if traveling to colder areas. Grooming tools may come in handy too.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in a hotel room. Even though he may be mannerly at home, the stress of strange surroundings may trigger some anxiety and result in damage to the room or barking. Fewer and fewer hotels accept dogs because of irresponsible owners.
  • Always pick up after your dog so that dogs continue to be welcomed at rest stops, hotels and campgrounds.
Dogs love to be involved in family activities and with a little bit of planning your dog can enjoy a trip with you and share in the festivities. Safe travels to you all this holiday season.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Help Us Find Missing GDB Puppy, Gannon!

Hi all - we need your help in finding a lost GDB puppy in Lodi, Calif. The following is the media release we sent out today. Please keep your eyes and ears open if you're in the area, and pass this information along to anyone that might be able to help us locate the pup. Thanks so much.

Guide Dog puppy Gannon
San Rafael, Calif. (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) - Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) is asking for your assistance in locating a lost puppy named Gannon. Gannon, a 3-month-old black Labrador Retriever male, is a Guide Dog puppy in training for the GDB puppy raising program.

Gannon was last seen on Friday morning, October 30 near the corner of Armstrong and Davis Roads. He may have been spotted early on Saturday afternoon in the area of Thorton Road, north of Stockton, between 8 Mile and DeVries Roads.

Gannon is being raised by a volunteer puppy raising family in Lodi, Calif. The puppy raiser families teach puppies, like Gannon, to have excellent house manners and socialize them to the world by introducing them to new people, places and experiences.

Gannon, like other Guide Dog puppies in training, stay in their puppy raising homes until they are approximately 15 – 18 months old. At that time they begin their formal guide work training at GDB and are eventually matched with blind students enrolled at the school.

Gannon has tattoos in both ears with his ID number and is wearing a black collar with Guide Dog tags. If you have any information about this lost puppy, please contact Jim Russell at 209-669-7657 or Guide Dogs for the Blind at 800-295-4050.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Halloween!

How about a little Halloween howl? With the witching hour approaching, we'd like to share with your some tricks and treats for having a scary good time this weekend.

Let's start with the treats!

This month, we hosted a Halloween pet costume photo contest on Facebook. We had so many fun and wonderful entries, that is was really tough to choose just one winner - so we chose two! Here's the two winning entries:

Yellow Lab Acadia dressed in a rooster costume
Cock-a-doodle-doo! Yellow Lab Acadia as a Rooster, submitted by Sabrina Young.


A puppy raiser and two pups dressed in Peanuts characters Halloween costumes.
That's just nuts (as in Peanuts)! Retired guide Jasper as The Great Pumpkin, puppy raiser Miranda Loughry as Snoopy/the WWI Flying Ace, and Lab/Golden cross puppy-in-training Kingston as Linus. Submitted by Andrea Loughry.

And how's this for a sweet treat? Follow the link below to watch a segment from CBS-13 in Sacramento, Calif. featuring a puppy raising club's outing to a local pumpkin patch:

And finally, the tricks. Remember that Halloween can be spooky - especially for your dog. Here's a few tricks and tips to guarantee a happy and healthy Halloween for your pooch:
  • Walk your dog before trick-or-treaters start their rounds. If you are out-and-about in areas with dressed-up hooligans, make sure to keep a firm grip on the leash; many dogs are frightened by people in costumes.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing an up-to-date I.D. tag.
  • Find a secure place in your home to keep your dog, especially when you're passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. Dogs can easily get loose when the door opens, and the presence of little (and big) costumed people often scares animals, increasing the chance dogs will run away or get hit by cars. Consider using a baby gate at your front door that will keep the dog inside, even if the door is opened.
  • If your dog has any aggressive tendencies, fear of loud noises, or a habit of excessive barking, place him in a quiet room as far away from your front door as possible.
  • Consider crating your dog, which can make him feel more secure and reduce chances of accidental escapes. Provide him with chew toys, a favorite blanket, or whatever will provide him with comfort and distraction.
  • If you want to have your dog near the door to greet visitors, keep him on leash. Pets can become very stressed by holiday activities and unwelcome interruptions in routine. A nervous dog might feel threatened and growl, lunge or bite.
  • Keep dogs indoors. It's a bad idea to leave dogs out in the yard; in addition to the parade of holiday celebrants frightening and agitating them, you'll also face the threat of taunting, poisonings and pet thefts. Plus, a dog is likely to bark and howl at the constant flow of treat-or-treaters.
  • Make sure pets can't reach candles, jack-o-lanterns, decorations or ornaments.
  • If you like to dress up your dog for the holiday, keep in mind that Halloween costumes can annoy animals and pose safety and health hazards. Make sure the dog can breathe, see and hear, and that the costume is flame retardant. Remove any small or dangling accessories that could be chewed and swallowed. Avoid rubber bands, which can cut off the animal's circulation or, if accidentally left on, can burrow and cut into the animal's skin.
  • Explain to everyone in your home (including kids) how dangerous treats are to pets. Store candy supplies out of reach and caution children about leaving candy wrappers on the floor.
  • Keep your dog out of the candy bowl. Dispose of candy wrappers immediately in (they can cause choking or intestinal obstruction), and make sure the dogs can't get into the trash. Note: Chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause nerve damage and even death in dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more concentrated it is -- and the smaller the lethal dose.
  • If you notice these symptoms of chocolate poisoning, call or visit your veterinarian right away: Excessive drooling or urination; pupil dilation; rapid heartbeat; vomiting and diarrhea; hyperactivity; muscle tremors and seizures.