Monday, September 28, 2009

Support Our Canine Heroes Wine Gala 2009

Guests enjoying the reception of the Wine Gala.Did we have an amazing weekend, or what? This past Saturday was GDB's 7th Annual Support Our Canine Heroes Wine Gala in Napa Valley, and we're thrilled to report that the event raised more than $427,000! All of the proceeds go toward veterinary care, helping to keep all of our program dogs and puppies happy and healthy.

The event was held at Charles Krug Winery's historic Carriage House in St. Helena. Despite the heat (temperatures topped 100 degrees!), guests were in festive and generous spirits, and bid with wild abandon at both the silent and live auctions, all the while enjoying food and wine from some of Napa Valley's acclaimed wineries and restaurants.

Vickie Kennedy, receiving an award commemorating her years of service as Wine Gala chair
GDB alumna Vickie Kennedy, who has chaired the Wine Gala since its inception with her guides Freida and Angela by her side, was honored during the program for her seven years of leadership. This was Vickie's final year at the helm of the event, and received a standing ovation from the crowd as she was presented with a commemorative crystal statue, pictured above. (Vickie's two-time co-chair, Paula Kornell of Oakville Ranch Vineyards and the president of the Napa Valley Vintners Association takes over next year with a new co-chair, Board Member Joan Boyd).

Special guests of honor were Captain and Mrs. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who have been GDB volunteers for many years, both as puppy raisers and breeding stock custodians. Unbeknownst to them, they were presented with a new breeder dog that night - a yellow Lab named Fame (their last breeder dog, Twinkle, recently passed away). They were ecstatic, stunned and grateful at the surprise... see for yourself in this video:

video

In addition, guests were treated to a wonderful keynote address by GDB alumna Maile George, who was introduced by her father, longtime GDB campus volunteer, Fred George. We thought you'd like to see their presentation as well, so we've posted it to our YouTube Channel.

All in all, it was a successful and celebratory event. We have so many people to thank for helping to make the event such a phenomenal success - sponsors, donors, guests and volunteers - that it would be impossible to list them all here. But just know that it takes a community to put on what has become a premiere event in Napa Valley, and the generosity of many to raise the impressive funds to care for our dogs. We're grateful to you all.

Monday, September 21, 2009

9/11 Remembered

San Rafael Police Officer Ed Chiu holding a yellow Lab puppy.

In commemoration of the anniversary 9/11, GDB hosted a VIP tour on our California campus as a way to simply say “thank you” to the San Rafael Police Department for providing a safe, supportive environment and community for Guide Dogs to serve our students and our mission. Approximately 15 local police officers attended the tour which included some “puppy love” when they visited the puppy play yard area (Officer Ed Chiu is pictured above). To see all of the pictures from the tour, please visit GDB's Flickr site .

Filene’s Tribute

By Jenna Bullis
Master Guide Dog Instructor

Filene

Dogs are amazing creatures with extraordinary talents. They are capable of the most incredible things. Detection dogs can sniff out cancer, bombs, or drugs. Medical alert dogs can anticipate the seizure of a person with epilepsy or the drop in blood sugar of a person with diabetes. Search and Rescue dogs find people lost in the wilderness or under deep piles of rubble during disasters. Then there are the many types of service dogs whose jobs vary depending of the disability of the person they are assisting. A person in a wheelchair might need a dog to pick up dropped items or turn light switches on and off. A deaf person might need a dog to alert them when the phone rings or the fire alarm goes off. This last category is where we find our own Guide Dogs for the Blind.

These wonderful animals have something in common. They touch peoples lives. Some of them touch one or two people, some touch many more, but they all have have a profound effect on SOMEONE.  One of the things I cherish the most about working at Guide Dogs for the Blind is that I get a chance to see many dogs touch many lives.

This is the story of one of those special dogs who touched many lives, including mine.

In May of 1999 I began my second string as an apprentice at GDB and welcomed my new batch of training dogs. They were all cute, eager pupils, of course, but one in particular stood out; an adorable petit black lab named Filene. She was 55 pounds of cuteness who had an engaging way of cocking her head to the side when I talked to her and a naughty habit of jumping up on me which earned her the nickname, “Filene, Filene the jumping bean,” later shortened to “Bean.” She began her training along with the rest of the recruits and her story probably would have been much like any other dog in training except for an unexpected tragedy.

In June of 1999 my healthy, active, 57 year old father suffered a fluke medical condition and died instantly while at a golf event. My family was devastated to say the least. After the funeral I returned to work, stunned and still grieving. The rest of that training string is mostly a blur to me, punctuated by moments of crying in the van before training routes but thankfully also by moments of well-being when I worked with the dogs, particularly with little Filene. Filene accompanied me on occasion to visit my mother who was also trying to put her life back together. Always a dog lover, Mom fell under Filene’s spell too and always asked about her progress in training. Filene had touched us both.

By November of 1999 Filene was ready to be matched with a blind handler, an older woman who was receiving her first dog. I will remember their first walk forever. We had walked along a simple long straight sidewalk and were approaching the end of the block. Filene made a move to the left, guiding her handler around the pole near the curb edge. When I casually informed her handler of what had just happened she looked around with a stunned expression, searching for the pole with her residual vision, burst into happy tears, and hugged me. Filene had just touched her too. Filene worked for six months until her handler passed away and Filene was returned to GDB.

I was assigned to evaluate Filene for potential “reissue” as she was young enough to still work a long life. Filene proved herself and entered class again in July of 2000, this time going to a young person who had received an organ transplant. Gentle Filene was the perfect dog for this fragile person who had never had a dog before (let alone a Guide Dog) and truthfully, was a little frightened of them. Filene soon convinced her handler that dogs were nothing to be frightened of, and in fact, were wonderful companions and friends. Filene had touched another life.

But Filene’s story had not ended. In the Spring of the next year Filene’s handler became too ill to work and care for Filene. Filene once again returned to GDB and was retired. Filene’s graduate graciously agreed to place Filene with my mother who had always remembered the adorable little lab who visited her home.

Because my mom thought that Filene was such a wonderful, loving, perfect little dog, she felt Filene was meant to share her love with the world. She and Filene passed the Delta Society’s Animal-Assisted Therapy test in 2002 and joined the Ohlone Humane society’s Hug-A-Pet program. Filene was now touching many more lives.

Filene with a child at the Read to the Dogs program
Mom and Filene were regular visitors at the Masonic Home, convalescence homes, and hospitals. They were particularly well loved at a retired Nuns community where Filene was frequently blessed. One of their favorite places to visit was an Alzheimer's unit. Mom would tell me stories of usually unresponsive people who would light up and talk to Filene, reminiscing about pets from their youth. Because Mom was a retired teacher’s aid, she and Filene were invited to visit the severely disabled classroom at the school where she used to work. Working with these kids led Mom and her “Hug-A-Pet” group to form a “Read to the Dogs” program at the local library (pictured here).

Filene, participating in a Read to the Dogs program

Sadly Filene’s story ended last month. At 11 years old and after touching countless lives, Filene crossed the rainbow bridge.

Webster’s defines the word tribute as “a statement that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration.” This is my tribute to Filene, she will be missed by many.

September Facebook Essay Contest Winner: What Tricks Does Your Dog Do?

This month's Facebook essay contest winner is Marla Berg-Vivit, whose winning submission on the topic "What Tricks Does Your Dog Do?" got us all smiling. She details the antics of her black Lab/Pointer mix pet dog, Hayley. Marla has been a fan of GDB ever since she her husband's cousin received a Guide Dog from our school many years ago. She hopes to one day raise a Guide Dog puppy. She has a house full of pets, including another dog, Scotty, a wire-haired Terrior/Chihauhau mix; two cats, Midnight and Miss Demeanor; as well as chickens, guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters over the years.

The Amazing Hayley
By Marla Berg-Vivit

You gotta love my dog! Hayley, a black lab and pointer mix, is such a cutie. I got her when she was 2 years old, but she had never been trained other than to stay off the furniture and to sit and lay. She is so smart, she even taught herself a trick... but then I am getting too far ahead of myself.

When we got her she was able to "Sit" when you held up one finger, and "Lay" when you held up two. Since then we have taught her many more "tricks" - mostly commands for good behavior (training in disguise!). The first new trick we taught her was to tell us when she had to go outside. She got this one quickly, and now she stands by the door and stares at you when she needs or wants to go outside. She loves to sit on the porch in the morning sun, and guard the yard from other dogs. She liked going outside so much, that her trick actually got to be such a pain!  So then I tried to teach her to open the door herself. The door only has a dead bolt which is always open during the day. I tried to hang a cord from the door and teach her to pull it open, but she wouldn't put anything in her mouth or use her mouth to maneuver things. So that wasn't working. But it didn't take much to show her how to push the door open by herself. So what I was able to do was teach her to close the door!  She liked that so much, whenever she wanted a treat, she would go and close the door, even tho the door was already closed! Too much! (Now only if she would close the door without being told when she comes in, especially in the winter time!)

I also taught her was to use her manners at the dinner table. She already knew the "Lay" command, so I just got her to know that "Manners" was the same as "Lay." But it has only been recently that I have been able to get her to use the combination of "Stay" and "Manners" when giving her her reward. She would always jump up to get it.

Another trick I taught her was to speak, or in our case, "Talk to me." Some of our commands are actually three words strung together to sound like three syllables.  She took longer to learn this one because she is a barker - and a loud one. She learned to "Talk to me" by giving me a small, tiny "ruff" sound. We have many conversations that go like this:

"Hayley, tell me about your day"
"Ruff"
"You don't say?"
"Ruff"
"Talk to me about it some more"
"Ruff"
"My goodness, you don't say!"
"Ruff"

We love our conversations!

Well one day, as I mentioned earlier, Hayley taught herself a trick! I was working on the computer all morning, and she finally had to go outside. She must have been standing at the door for the longest time, but I was in the kitchen two rooms away.  She came into the kitchen and layed down, staring at me. I didn't notice. She finally "ruff"ed at me and I turned my head to look at her. I was sooo amazed! She got what she wanted though - my attention!  This has become something she does all the time now, and not just to go outside.

One of the other commands that Hayley has mastered are "Go to bed" (usually given when she needs to go on 'time out' for bad behavior, most often barking at the top of her lungs inside the house!);

There is one trick that, so far, Hayley has refused to do, so we use it as a joke. We had been trying to get her to "Roll over," but she never goes on her back, and her body is hard to wriggle over. So to avoid practicing this command with us, she used to just run away. Now, whenever we say "Roll over" she takes that to mean "Run way"...it's so funny!

Finally, Hayley loves her car rides. I take her in the car whenever I can. She loves to stand in the front passenger seat and have her head outside the window while the car is going, the air blasting past her, brushing her jowls and ears back. She will put her paw on the button that puts the window down when she wants the window to be put down so she can put her head out. The button is too recessed for her to actually lower the window herself, but it has become her way of telling me she wants the window down - now!

There one trick I still haven't been able to break her of though: greeting everyone that comes into the house with a kiss!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shutterbug Fever

By Jenna Bullis
Master Guide Dog Mobility Instructor

After years of traveling with my trusty digital “point-n-shoot” camera I decided I was ready to upgrade to a “real” camera. You know, the kind with the big fancy interchangeable lenses that takes pictures you would find on the cover of National Geographic. Surely all that was standing between me and those cover shots was the equipment I was using, right? Once I had my shiny new camera in my hands I quickly realized what I really needed was more practice! Hmmm, what would be a good subject on which to practice?? “Well,” I thought to myself, “who doesn’t love a photo of a dog?” We’re not just talking about any old dog here, we’re talking about Guide Dogs who enhance the mobility of blind people all over the US and Canada - what could be more photogenic than that? Since I am fortunate enough to work as a Master Guide Dog Mobility Instructor at GDB I figured I had an endless supply of super cute dogs. So I hauled my gear into work and convinced my teammates and our dogs in training to become my subjects.

With some excellent coaching from resident GDB photography experts Morry Angell and Sierra Fish, I started shooting away. As I filled my memory cards with photos of dogs playing in community run and working with their trainers in San Rafael and San Francisco I began to wonder, “What am I going to do with all these photos now?" As luck would have it, the first of the California campus kennel renovations were concluding and there soon would be a use for some of these photos. The inside portion of the kennels and the center sections where staff keep all the food and supplies for the dogs was now open, airy, well-lit and spacious. However, something was still missing, something to make them feel less sterile and more “homey.” It was decided that the perfect finishing touch would be to display large framed photographs of dogs in training. Perfect! Creative Manager Morry Angell scheduled a photo shoot and between the two of us we had many wonderful photos from which to choose. The finished product was well received by staff and plans were made to create similar collages for the other kennels as construction is completed.


When it came time for the photo collage for the boarding kennel we decided a tribute to the “old guys and gals” was in order. Fortunately there were many older dogs who live with our employees and attend work each day who were happy to pose. These patient, grey-faced dogs were ready for the limelight once again and seemed to enjoy the “work” (or maybe it was the cookies) that morning.

If you are interested in seeing some of these special photos, or some photos of dogs in training working with their instructors please visit Guide Dogs new Flickr group photo pool . This group includes wonderful photos submitted from our raisers, alumni, career change adopters and volunteers as well. Please join the group and share your favorite photo!

Viva La Volunteers!


Our 30th annual California campus Volunteer Recognition Luncheon was a success! Despite of some questionable weather, about 200 volunteers came out to celebrate another year of tremendous volunteer contributions. Of special note, we celebrated Evelyn Hoffman's 45th year as a volunteer puppy tester (Evelyn is pictured above, with Campus Volunteers/Guest Relations Manager Jennifer Bernstein-Lewis). What an amazing milestone! Thank you to all of our volunteers; we couldn't do it without you! Too see all of the pictures from the event, please visit our Flickr site.

Monday, September 14, 2009

F Litter Update: Faulkner, Ready for a New Adventure

Hey Momma!
I'm on trade this week! I'm staying with a girl named Kylie who is a first time raiser in our club. She's really enjoying having me since I'm so close to the end of my training and a welcome break from her 9 month-old puppy, Kayla. I'm just having fun getting to meet even more new people! Kylie has been taking me to high school and it's a very active life.
My puppy raiser Kate and I have been really close since we found out that I'm going back. This last month of my training is shaping up to be a very special time for us. We do a lot of cuddling and loving these days and Kate has been sharing stories with me of the five dogs that she's raised in the past. Did you know that all of them are working guides? All of the talk is making me even more excited to go back to campus! While this is a fun experience for me, Kate told me about just how much this organization means to her. Here's what she had to say:
"These past few months have confirmed how much a person can get out of an experience such as this. The feeling that you get when you are able to help someone else, while helping yourself in the process, is beyond explanation. I don't know that I'll ever truly be able to express what Guide Dogs means to me and what the organization has done for me. GDB came into my life at a time that I most needed it five years ago, even though I didn't know it at the time. Through all of my medical adventures, and times of not knowing what life would bring day to day, I had at least one constant: a dog. Every morning, no matter how terrible I was feeling, there would be a wriggling ball of fur just waiting for me to wake up. Not because they wanted to ask how I was feeling and not because they needed to take me to another doctor's appointment. They simply wanted me. And even in in my days of not knowing where my life was going or when I would be able to really start living it again, I knew that puppy needed me. And not just that puppy, but, in extension, a person needed me. After the first graduation that I attended all those years ago, I couldn't believe that I was actually a part of what the working team had become. Bob and Yamaha were soul mates and you could tell by just looking at them. To think that I was even a small part of that beauty and freedom still makes me swell with pride. I don't know where I would be now if it wasn't for Guide Dogs coming into my life when it did. But I do know this: This organization is magical. And not just for the blind that get partnered with a guide."
I know full well that becoming a guide isn't for every dog. Kate has told me that if I get to school and don't want to do it, I will not have to. She's assured me that no matter how my formal training goes, she is very, very proud of me. The best part is that she has assured me that even if I come back to her house to live as a pet, I have helped at least one person's life be better - hers. Through all the emotion of the last weeks, I'm ready to keep on going until I just can't go anymore. I'm bursting full with all the love that has been given to me in my raiser home and I can't wait to go on to share it.
Love, 
Faulkner
Momma Christine's Response: 

Dear Faulkner,
This is an absolutely lovely note and makes me cry with delight in your shared vision and in the beautiful way you express it in words. I hope other people will be able to resonate with you as well after they read your dear words. Very very sweet.
I am so proud of you, and I hope I will see you at your graduation, if that is in your future. Take care and enjoy these last weeks together.
Love,
Christine

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Snapshots!

Boy, do we love getting your photos! From the look of things, our grads and raisers are having a great time out there in the big, wide world, and we love that you are sharing your adventures with us. Every month, we'll select up to three photo submissions to include here on the blog, and post the rest of the images on our flickr site for all to see. So keep them coming! 

Here's your featured Snapshots for the month of September: 

GDB alumna Kathy Peery meeting President Barak Obama
GDB alumna Kathy Peery, who works in Washington D.C., meets President Obama. Obama had just finished shaking her hand when this photo was taken. You can't see her guide, Bea, in the photo - but you can see the leash! Submitted by Kathy Peery.

Three yellow Labs in front of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast.
Retired guide Dakota (9 years) and career change dogs Culver (9 months) and Desma (9 years) in front of Haystock Rock at Cannon Beach along the Oregon coast. Submitted Debi Hays, who has this to say about her special dogs: 

"I'm a volunteer in the vet clinic on the Oregon Campus. I'm approaching my 11th year.  Volunteering in the vet clinic allows me to foster dogs that come in for surgery, and that's how I met Culver. Culver had surgery to repair a liver shunt and he was staying with me during his recovery. I have fostered many dogs through the years, but Culver captured my heart. I fell in love with him immediately. Knowing Culver would be a hard dog to place because he is not expected to live a normal length of life, I talked to my husband about adopting him.  

My husband, Steve, is a huge supporter of these incredible dogs and he agreed that Culver was a very special dog and that he should be with us. We had not planned on adopting a 3rd dog and certainly not a 9 month-old puppy, but it felt like the right thing to do. We are not sure why we are on this special journey with Culver, but we feel honored to be the ones to share in this experience with him. We will give him the best life possible with lots of love and the best medical care that we can. Right now, Culver is asymptomatic and doing extremely well. He acts like any normal puppy, playing with toys, chewing bones and acting silly.

Culver is teaching us that we don't know what tomorrow will bring, so seize the moment and GO DO IT, which is how we wound up at the beach. We had a break in our work schedule one week, so we thought, why not? Let's go! We were not sure if Culver had experienced the sand and surf but every puppy needs this fun adventure, don't you think??

Culver shares his life with Dakota, a retired guide who we had previously fostered, and Desma, who I raised for GDB."

Lynn Jensen and Guide Dog puppy Sakari
Guide Dog puppy Sakari, submitted by raiser Lynn Jensen. The photo was taken at ATK-Alliant Tech Systems where Lynn is a project engineer. Lynn writes:  

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to raise a Guide Dog puppy... but what if you are? Sakari is the seventh puppy our family has raised. All of them have gone to work with me at the rocket factory (ATK-Alliant Tech Systems) in northern Utah. It is a good place for socializing and training. I believe it has helped all of them to become graduates of the program and working  guides. 

Our plant is so large it resembles a small city. The dogs have all been on buses and vans going to different parts of the plant, visited the cafeteria, and exposed to a variety of surfaces. We have several grates the dogs walk on and we even have a grate stairway. They are so well behaved they have attended meetings with people unaware of their presence. In one meeting after a long presentation, Sakari gave a big groan as if to say, 'I’m glad that this is over!'; someone spoke up and said, 'I think that’s how all of us feel!'

Most of the dogs have special friends whom they recognize by sight and sound. People stop to see and pet the dogs without wanting to see me. Some just sit and pet the dog and say that it lowers their blood pressure.

In the accompanying picture Sakari was with me in the control room for a rocket test firing. We are shown in the picture at the end of the motor within minutes of the test finishing."

To see the rest of the recently submitted photos, 
please visit GDB's Flickr site

On Being an Artist Who is Blind

A piece of glass art
By GDB Alumna Kathy Hazard

I was honored to have my glass work chosen in an international show by artists who are blind sponsored by Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco. 

You might ask how someone who is blind creates art. I am low vision and use my peripheral vision, moving my eyes from side to side to make out what most large objects are. When an object is too small, or its fine detail is too subtle, for my peripheral vision to see, I wear glasses with 8 times magnification and hold the object very close to my eyes. Most times this allows me to see what I am looking at more clearly.

A piece of glass artIf an object is too far away for me to see its fine detail, I visualize what I think it looks like, based on my memory of it. My imperfect vision allows me to have a perfect creative vision, which often provides opportunities for happy accidents and grace to influence my finished product. When working with glass, though I work quite deliberately, my unconscious is the undisputed project manager - it allows me to utilize my vision without using my eyes.

I have found that when I am working with glass I am able to forget I am visually impaired – it adds a sense of calmness and inner peace to my life. My love of glass art started at an early age. Observing what others were able to accomplish by transforming pieces of glass into a beautiful stained glass window, blown glass, or mosaic piece of glass art, has always struck me as magical.

Over the past few years, that magical process has become part of me. I was introduced to a process called glass fusion about five years ago, and was finally able to fulfill a life-long dream of working with glass. I cut pieces of glass, layer them into the shape of what I see in my minds eye as the end product. The glass is then melted in a kiln to create my fused piece of glass art.

I love the creative power working with glass gives me. It fills me with a sense of
A piece of glass artaccomplishment and integrity, and has proven a most amenable vehicle for translating my inner vision to reality. I let the glass talk to me. When I cut and break each piece of glass, my art is free-flowing. I allow the energy in the glass to flow through me. If I don’t feel its energy, I cannot continue working on the piece. I step away and come back to it at another time when I am able to feel its energy. Then, and only then, I am able to complete my glass art piece.

With each piece I create, I learn something new about glass fusion. My art inspires and invigorates me by a renewed sense of continuity. I am always awed by the mystery of how a few pieces of glass can be turned into a beautiful glass-art creation.  

For more information about the Lighthouse's upcoming exhibit where Kathy's work will be on display, please visit http://www.lighthouse-sf.org/events/insights/2009exhibition.php.

Newshounds!

Here's a recap of some of GDB's recent media coverage. You could say that we really have a nose for news! Thanks to everyone out there helping us spread the word. 

Yoga Journal article
Yoga Journal, October 2009: “Paws and Breathe”  - A feature about GDB's innovative Yoga class at our California campus for students in class. The October issue of Yoga Journal is on news stands now - pick up a copy to read all about this beneficial program. 

People Magazine article
People Magazine, August 24, 2009: “These Dogs Might Save Your Life” - A feature about some GDB career change and retired breeder dogs that are involved with The Pine Street Clinic's cancer detection study. 

Here's links to some great media stories available online: 

F Litter: Franco Writes Home

Yellow Lab puppy Franco
Dear Mama,

Did you hear the good news? Flute is going off to Puppy College. I am so excited! That means that fairly soon, the rest of us will go too. I can hardly wait. I have all my commands down very well and am well behaved, most of the time!

Talking about school, my puppy raiser is back in school and running cross country again. He is pretty fast but the races seem to take a very long time. It also gets really hot during the day when he runs - I’m glad I don’t have to run with him! Speaking of the heat, I hope you’re safe down there in California and far away from all the smoke.

It is hard to believe that I have been writing letters home now for a year it seems like just yesterday we were at Fun Day. Time sure does fly when you are having fun. 

With love and licks,

Franco

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We're All A-Twitter!

twitter logo
We've taken the plunge - you can now follow Guide Dogs for the Blind on Twitter! We're @GDB_info, and we hope that you will give us a follow, tell your friends, and recommend people for us to follow as well (raisers? alumni? volunteers? are you twittering?). We plan to tweet about lots of exciting things - upcoming events, promotions, insider info... so please join us - we want to connect! 

The Bond That Binds Us

A man giving his Guide Dog a hug
Bonding. At Guide Dogs for the Blind, we talk a lot about the bond between a person and their Guide Dog. It's so cool when it happens, but it happens at different times for different people/dogs. This post is a shout out to GDB Alumni - we'd love to hear your comments on the matter. When did you first really bond with your Guide Dog? Was it love at first sight? Did it happen over time? Was there some moment you shared that solidified your partnership? What were the required ingredients that made it happen? And for you retreads: how did the bonding process differ between each of your respective guides?

F Litter Update: Faulkner Writes Home

Hey Momma!!

This past month has seemed to just fly by! My raiser Kate and I haven't been doing a whole lot because she had surgery. We've been going crazy stuck at home together, but I've really gotten good at being a house dog. I've gone to work with Kate's mom a few times, and I've been to SO many doctor's appointments. While Kate was in the hospital, our whole puppy club (including our friends from Elko, Nevada) showed up for class!! I got to be at the hospital once a day for the three days that Kate was there. It was fun to get "ooh-ed" and "ah-ed" over by all the nurses!

Kate is feeling better and I'm trying to help her get back on her feet. She plays outside with me and whenever she goes out, I get to go too. She says that having me around helps to distract people from the neck brace that she's having to wear. I guess that having a dog in tow does offer a great opportunity to change the subject!

Summer is coming to an end and Kate's brother, Alex, has headed to college. He's promised to take me sometime in the next couple of weeks which would be great fun! I'll let you know how my adventures in the college world go once I get a chance to see how it is. I wonder if it will be anything like the "college" that Kate keeps talking about me going to at Guide Dogs....

Faulkner