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.

Kudos to Keifer!

Black Lab career change dog Keifer
Jane Ritter of Denver, Colo. is very proud of her career change dog, black Lab Keifer. Keifer recently won a Colorado's Animal Heroes Award in the Human-Animal Bond category. The award was given by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation for Keifer's work at an alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility that he visits weekly.

Here's a portion of one of many nomination letters for Keifer, along with some photos of him at the awards ceremony:

Keifer is a loving, black lab, who visits patients every week at the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation (CeDAR) at the University of Colorado Hospital. During the early stages of addiction recovery, many of our patients suffer from loneliness and fear in addition to the often painful physical and emotional symptoms that accompany the detoxification process.

I have watched Keifer while he interacts with patients: slowly and gently approaching each person with a wag of his tail and often a kiss. For our patients who are dealing with issues of low self esteem in their battles with addiction, this affirming contact with Keifer is often enough to change the course of their whole day. I have seen patients who rarely relax, or smile, or communicate with others, get down on the floor with Keifer and take in the unconditional acceptance that a loving dog such as Keifer can give. For many of our patients, this is a singular moment in their lives.

The patients and staff alike are grateful that Jane has brought Keifer to CeDAR to share his unbridled passion for life. Keifer truly acts as an example to many of our patients who do not know how to enjoy and embrace life. What could be a better lesson than seeing a dog roll in the grass with a big smile on his face?!

I speak for all the patients and staff at CeDAR and ask you to consider Keifer for the “Human-Animal Bond” Achievement Award. He is a blessing to many who suffer from the disease of addiction. (Written by Lorie Obernauer, CeDAR Alumni Liaison)

Kudos to Keifer for this honor! Keep up the good work!

Keifer at the awards ceremony
Keifer at the awards ceremony

In Memorium: Ed Eames

Ed EamesLast week, longtime GDB alumnus and assistance animal advocate Ed Eames passed away in a hospital in his hometown of Fresno. Ed was the founder of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), and a tireless advocate for the disabled.

Upon his passing, IAADP Canadian Vice President Devon Wilkins shared these thoughts through the organization's e-newsletter, The Harness:

"IAADP was launched in 1993 at a historic meeting organized by Ed, his wife Toni, and Joan Froling in St. Louis, held in conjunction with the Assistance Dogs International Conference. Its overall mission has been to empower disabled persons with guide, hearing and service dogs to work together to foster the assistance dog movement. We have grown from a handful of advocates to more than 2500 Partner members over the last sixteen years, led by a volunteer board of assistance dog partners elected by the membership.

"Ed was our friend and an extraordinary advocate. He forged relationships with corporations around the world and with his easy going 'ask' brought untold benefits to us. Ed knew full well that the majority of us teamed with guide, hearing and service dogs were on the lower income scale. His advocacy to garner support for our canines was only matched by his tireless advocacy for our access rights. Among other things, Ed and Toni also traveled throughout the USA each year and to other countries with their guide dogs, lecturing at veterinary schools and veterinary conferences about the special role that veterinarians play in maintaining the team, to educate them about IAADP, raise disability awareness and to ask veterinarians to consider free or discounted veterinary services for assistance dog teams.

"The important work of IAADP continues. Toni is a member of our Board, so through her, Ed's hand will continue to be on the organization."

IAADP has set up a memorial section on its website where you can share your thoughts and/or make a memorial donation: http://www.iaadp.org/

To read more about Ed's life and legacy, please see his feature obituary in The Fresno Bee.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The CBS film crew with Aerial GilbertGDB’s own Aerial Gilbert and Guide Dog, Splash, will be highlighted on Katie Couric’s CBS National News segment “The American Spirit.” “The American Spirit” is a weekly series that reports on extraordinary people whose solutions to America’s problems positively impact their community. The segment is tentatively slated for Friday, October 23. Please visit www.cbsnews.com for local listings.

The Adventures of Neil

Puppy raiser Jennifer Edwards is an assistant director at Camp Augusta, a residential summer camp in Northern California that provides children a safe, fun-filled experience to serve as a catalyst for personal growth and an appreciation of the outdoors. This past year, Jennifer brought along her Guide Dog puppy, Neil; the following is an excerpt she wrote for the camp’s newsletter highlighting their adventures.

Neil came to camp in January, when the skies were predominantly over-cast, the air was chill, and there was snow on the ground. As he stepped out of the car, his nose went up, and he took his first glance at the cabins tipped with snow and the giant oak and pine trees towering above us. Camp has a quiet, regal air in the winter, with only five or six people on site and everything closed up. Beneath the quiet, I have always had a sense of resting and anticipation for the time when children and families spark the magic to life again.

By spring, Neil had grown and the 2009 season was ready to start. Camp and Neil both had received some polishing during the winter and were ready to see what the season had to offer. May is a time of awakening and blossoming; new animals are born, and we often see fawns still with spots in the underbrush. The flowers and trees are starting to push new growth out at an alarming rate. We all got used to the change in pace and energy. That undercurrent of magic present in the winter was starting to sparkle with life.

After three weeks of staff training in June came the summer season. For
Neil, curled up in a ball.
Neil this was the beginning of a brave new world of evenings spent cuddled with groups of campers listening to stories, playing tug in the lodge, hearing his name called from six different directions at campfire, and meeting many, many new friends. He learned how to listen, even with lots of distractions around, and the joy that can be found surrounded by friends and family. He arose each day to the vision of campers, waking up slowly to the fresh smell and soft light of morning. Neil would fall asleep for his mid-afternoon nap to the sound of the fairies giggling as they stole all the post-it notes from the office, the triumphant cheer as a camper that had returned year after year finally completed the Giant’s Junkyard (a ropes course). His evenings were spent watching campers run and laugh and play, or enjoying the firelight at the campfire circle, glancing up to see millions of stars all the more bright without the haze given off by cities.

He, and the campers in our care, had a magical summer that sadly is at an end.

I just came back from watching a Guide Dogs’ graduation, where the fully trained dogs are presented by their puppy raisers to the people they will be bonded with, to work together to navigate the world safely. The thought of Neil graduating is sad because we won’t see him anymore, but also very rewarding, in that the efforts we put in have helped him become a well adjusted, happy dog and given him this amazing opportunity to work so closely with another person. I am reminded that this is not dissimilar from our goal with the campers in our care, to provide them with tools and experiences that will help them grow. These tools, in addition to the many they receive from parents, teachers and friends, foster the development of well adjusted and happy people.

It has been amazing to watch Neil grow, both physically and emotionally, over the past nine months. Going from a small puppy, learning about the world, to a well-traveled, confident and adaptable creature that travels comfortably in many different situations and environments has been very rewarding.

Neil goes back to Guide Dogs for the Blind’s training center in San Rafael, California at the end of November. Regardless of how he does, we’re very proud of him and how he has grown in his time here at Camp Augusta. Neil is now a part of the Camp Augusta family, irrespective of where his path in life goes. In the case that our paths diverge, we send him forward with the knowledge that we hold him in our hearts and wish for him all the best the world has to offer.

Sherwood’s Story

By Dana Pardee

Black Lab Sherwood
Sherwood is one of those dogs that everyone should have the pleasure of meeting at least once in their lifetime. He is cute, energetic, smart, loyal, eager to please, and has the ability to make anyone smile. I believe he is the whole Guide Dog package.

Sherwood and Dana at her Senior Prom.
When I welcomed Sherwood as my third Guide Dog puppy in training (co-raised with my friend, Becky), I was two months away from graduating high school. Even at 9 weeks, Sherwood had the ability to attend a crowded high school for four hours a day. Not only was he able to handle going to class, but soon enough he kept up with my busy schedule going from school to swim practice and even to work. At sixteen weeks old, Sherwood walked by my side at my graduation.

Immediately after graduation, I left Sherwood for a six weeks to be a counselor at Camp Bloomfield, a camp for blind children in Malibu, Calif., but it wasn't long before Sherwood was able to join me. Even at 5 months, Sherwood made an exceptional representative for GDB. He lived in cabins with ten or more girls, and went to activities daily such as horse back riding, archery, wall climbing and swimming. He also participated in sessions with our Guide Dog Activity Leader, during which the children groomed and handled him, as well as went through training sessions with him.

At the end of the summer, Sherwood and I took another big step in life together: we moved out on our own and started college. At 6 months of age, Sherwood was the only Guide Dog in training (or service dog in general) on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. From the very beginning, everyone who met Sherwood was extremely impressed at how well-behaved he was. He attended classes with me daily, spent endless hours in the library, went on long walks around campus, attended sporting events, and even went to work with me at the University book store. He and I were even featured in the local community magazine; it took no time at all for Sherwood to become a well-known figure around campus.

Sherwood with all three of his puppy raisers.
At this time, Sherwood also learned to work with a third raiser. Becky and I have a great co-raising relationship, but the university schedule was sometimes a little much for Sherwood. So my best friend Caitlin
started to attend weekly meetings with me and essentially became Sherwood’s “third mom.” He transitioned effortlessly between the three of us and he listened to each of us with equal attentiveness.

At the end of the first year of university, Sherwood and I were once again able to go to work at Camp Bloomfield. The campers and families who returned from the year before were amazed to see how Sherwood had grown, both physically and mentally, and how well he had progressed in his training. Sherwood spent one of his last months of training at Camp Bloomfield and it truly shows in the way he has become such an amazing dog to both raise and to simply be around.

Sherwood was a joy to raise. He truly captured my heart, which melted every time I looked into his golden eyes. All that he experienced and all the things in which he succeeded have made him one of the best dogs I have ever come across. I am proud to say I helped raise him for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Sherwood graduated as a working guide in December of 2008 with his partner Ron Wyatt of Fayetteville, Ark. Becky and I presented Sherwood to Ron at the formal graduation ceremony. The goofy little pup was no longer there; instead, a serious, working dog was in his place. His attentiveness to Ron was indescribable.

When it was time for the ceremony to begin, it was our time to have a bit of last bonding with Sherwood before saying goodbye. That was by far one of the hardest parts of the day. We lay on the floor together and cuddled just as we had done his entire life. I knew that this could potentially be the last time that I would ever be able to hug and kiss him so I took full advantage of it. Right before walking out onto the stage, I gave Sherwood a kiss and whispered in his ear, “Let’s go be a Guide Dog.”

Sherwood and Ron following graduation.
After we presented Sherwood and the graduation ceremony was over, the true magic of the day began. We decided that a nice walk on campus was much needed, so Ron, Becky, and I left the dormitory and set out across campus. It was the first time that I was actually able to see Ron and Sherwood working together. I don’t think anything I have ever experienced in my life has touched me so much. Ron walked with confidence and with a smile on his face. Sherwood navigated him through stairs, across campus, past other working teams, and through the busy gift shop. I watched in awe at how well they worked together and especially at how good of a Guide Dog Sherwood had become. Ron told us that with Sherwood, he was no longer blind - he was as independent and as normal as anyone else. And after seeing Sherwood and Ron work together, I could not agree more. With that, Sherwood was no longer my dog. He is Ron’s dog. He is Sherwood the Guide Dog.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Forging Ties

A bronze statue of GDB alumna Cara Dunne
A life-size bronze statue in memory of Cara Dunne, GDB alumna and world-champion paralympic athlete, is set to be unveiled later this month at Snowmass ski resort in Aspen, Colo., where Cara helped establish an adaptive ski program. The statue depicts Cara with a Guide Dog by her side. Her father, Mike Dunne (pictured with the statue and his sister, Joanne), hopes the statue will "inspire many generations with her message of living." Last week, after a statue of Helen Keller was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. , Mike wrote to us with this to say:

Hello Friends,

Thought you might find this story about Helen Keller interesting and somewhat coincidental. As you will read, a bronze statue of the famed Mrs. Keller was just unveiled in Washington D.C.

Of course the coincidence is that Cara's statue is about 10 days from being installed, but there are other coincidences as well. Both Cara and Helen Keller went to Harvard University (or as it was called for the women students in Keller's day, Radcliffe College). It gets better: Ms. Keller was the first blind and deaf person to ever graduate from the college (1904), and Cara was the first blind or disabled person to be elected president of a Harvard class (1992). Ms. Keller graduated Cum Laude; Cara earned Magna Cum Laude (Cara gets one up on this one!). Both spoke and read several languages; both were on the speaking circuit; both raised money for charities.

And the final coincidence: both Cara Dunne and Helen Keller will have bronze statues erected in the same year and same month for all the world to see. Both statues will be an incredible inspiration to present and future generations with a message that will be as subtle as a Harvard diploma: you can still have an fascinating and adventuresome life even when the odds seem against it.

Helen Keller died in 1968, two years before Cara was born, but I'm betting that at this very moment, they're probably sitting together discussing who looks more like their bronze statue. And I'm sure that on the subject of all the good people who have furthered their work on earth by helping those in need, they're surely happy. On this, I'm sure they see, eye to eye.

Thanks again for your support. Love to all,

Mike Dunne

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baby, Let's Have a Party!

A young guest at the Blind Babies anniversary celebration pets a GDB dog.
This past Saturday, GDB had the pleasure of hosting the Blind Babies Foundation’s 60th anniversary celebration on our California campus. More than 400 people, including families currently involved with the program, alumni, supporters and vision professionals came out to enjoy the festivities.

And the festivities were many! There were Aztec dancers and belly dancers; a magic show by The Great Blindini; wonderful food prepared and served up by local Lions Club members; ice cream treats courtesy of Ben and Jerry's... and of course lots of GDB dogs and pups on hand for pets and wags!

It was a wonderful day, and we're looking forward to participating in more activities with Blind Babies in the future. If you'd like to see all of the photos from the festive afternoon, please visit our flickr site.


Captain Sully with GDB breeder dog Fame. Photo by Martin Klimek, Special for USA TODAY
USA Today, October 14, 2009: "Sully Finds Another Kind of Fame" - USA Today featured a photo of Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger of the Hudson river landing fame with his new GDB breeder dog, Fame, a Lab/Golden cross. The Sullenberger Family has been involved with GDB for many years, both as puppy raisers and breeding stock custodians. (Photo by Martin Klimek, Special for USA TODAY)

Dog World, November 2009: “Purebred Predictability” - An article about purebred dogs, with a segment on GDB's Breeding Program. Brent Ruppel, GDB's Director of Canine Community Programs, is featured. The November issue of Dog World is currently on news stands - run out and get your copy today to read the complete article.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Breeders Digest

A litter of new puppies with their mama
Here's all of our new arrivals from June 1, 2009-July 31, 2009. To see photos of these litters, please visit GDB's Flickr site: Littermate Photos.

Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers
  • 6/7/09 Atrus x Reiko – 3 females
  • 6/15/09 Bond x Maria – 2 males, 3 females
  • 6/18/09 Atrus x Indiana – 4 males, 3 females
  • 6/18/09 Kentucky x Finesse – 2 males, 2 females
  • 6/28/09 Dylan x Nana – 2 males, 3 females
  • 7/3/09 Damon x Clovis – 5 males, 4 females
  • 7/7/09 Bosworth x Fritzie – 4 males, 1 female
  • 7/8/09 Kentucky x Lovey – 2 males, 4 females
  • 7/10/09 Tiburon x Frankie – 3 males, 6 females
  • 7/11/09 Bingham x Parkay – 4 males, 4 females
  • 7/13/09 Bingham x Alanis – 4 males, 4 females
  • 7/18/09 Bond x Paquita – 3 males, 3 females
  • 7/21/09 Denzel x Audrey – 3 males, 3 females
  • 7/22/09 Samuel x Arabella – 2 males, 5 females
  • 7/25/09 Kentucky x Tilda – 2 males, 4 females
  • 7/26/09 Jenkins x Sunrise – 3 males, 3 females
  • 7/31/09 Jay x Bloomer – 3 males, 3 females
Lab/Golden Crosses
  • 7/31/09 Taylor x Cheyenne – 5 males, 5 females
New Breeders

Labrador Retrievers
  • Germany – raised in OR
  • Meredith – raised in OR
  • Lapis – raised in CO
  • Leola – raised in CO
  • Peach – raised in OR
  • Piedmont – raised in OR
  • Plumas – raised in WA
  • Rupee – raised in CA
Golden Retrievers
  • Kaylee – raised in OR
  • Taylor – raised in CA
Lab/Golden Crosses
  • Aiko – raised in OR
  • Fame – raised in WA

Friday, October 9, 2009

October Videos

Need a puppy fix?

This clip from Glenn Smith at last Saturday's graduation says it all!

These videos are also available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/guidedogsaregreat.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Making New Friends

A young girl gives an ambassador dog a hug
L.A. Southwest Guide Dog Raisers and Diamonds in the Rough puppy raising club represented GDB at the recent Junior Blind of America (JBA) Fall Family Field Day where families of blind/visually impaired children came to learn about the various programs and services available to them in the Greater Los Angeles area. The puppy raisers and their pups met families from California, Nevada and Arizona. L.A. Southwest also helped out at a recent Lifestyles Seminar held at the JBA as well.

At the events, attendees were able to participate in fun activities with the dogs and puppies. There were working Guide Dogs on hand, as well as puppies in training and GDB ambassador dogs. Activities included walking and grooming the dogs, taking guided walks with a Guide Dog mobility instructor, and plenty of cuddling and petting!

"To see the huge smiles on the kids' faces and hearing the excited comments after returning from the dog walk with the trainer just fills my heart every time," said Pat Whitehead, leader of the L.A. Southwest group.

A young girl walking with a Guide Dog under the supervision of a Guide Dog mobility instructor

A young man in a wheelchair with a GDB ambassador dog

Community Hero: Puppy Raiser Robyn Goldstein

Robyn Goldstein with Nasa
Puppy raiser Robyn Goldstein of Englewood, Colo., has been nominated as a Jewish Community Hero through the United Jewish Communities of North America for her years of volunteer service. Robyn has been raising puppies for GDB since she was in third grade; she's now a senior at Cherry Creek High School and currently raising black Lab Nasa. Robyn is known by many at school as the "girl with the dog."

To read more about Robyn and to vote for her, please visit http://www.jewishcommunityheroes.org/nominees/profile/robyn-goldstein.

Good luck Robyn!