Tuesday, December 28, 2010

GDB Puppy Raiser Receives High Honors

Elizabeth and yellow Lab puppy on the beach


GDB Puppy Raiser Elizabeth Kaufmann recently received the President's Call to Service Award for 4,000 hours or more of volunteer service over a lifetime and the Gold Level President's Volunteer Service Award for 250 or more hours to a single organization in a year. For each award she received a pin, a certificate and a letter from President Barack Obama!

In addition to recognition from the President, her parents described what else she received in return for her volunteer efforts in an email to her club leader Diane Shindler:

Elizabeth wanted 4-H and Guide Dogs for the Blind to know that she's pleased to have an award recognizing the incredible time and commitment it takes to raise Guide Dog puppies. She'd also like you to know how much this has changed her life, too. "Diane, I'm sure you remember how shy Elizabeth used to be. When she attended our first Guide Dogs for the Blind meeting 8 ½ years ago, she was hesitant to speak to anyone. You have always made sure that the meetings and outings were a fun and safe environment for the youth as well as the pups, so Elizabeth was encouraged to stick with it. Through years of bringing guide puppies to public places, she found herself being approached by strangers constantly.

Eventually, she became accustomed to speaking with others. When Elizabeth was in middle school it was so wise of you as a leader to give her the job of Hospitality, requiring her to welcome newcomers to our group. It's incredible to us that she has worked her way through all the leadership positions and is now in her second run as co-president, leading monthly meetings and helping train new members. And the two-week internship in the Veterinary Clinic at GDB this summer was an extraordinary opportunity for intellectual and personal growth.

Through raising Guide Dogs, Elizabeth has gained an understanding of and compassion for [people with] physical disabilities. She is learning how to walk the fine line of accommodating differences without patronizing.

People often ask Guide Dog raisers, "Isn’t it hard to give up these puppies?" She honestly answers, "I am raising this pup for someone else who needs her more. When I speak with blind people and hear about how a guide has changed their lives, it confirms why I do this."

Brett & Laura Kaufmann

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jingle Bones

Team Blitzen near coffee shop
By Jill Wardrop



Earlier this month, puppy raisers in the Portland Area participated in a really fun and unique outing affectionately dubbed "Jingle Bones." About 50 raisers and their 25 Guide Dog puppies went to visit GDB's Downtown Center in Portland, where we enjoyed mingling with one another while socializing our puppies.


When my puppy sitting guest, Trumpet, and I arrived, we were greeted with enthusiasm from puppies of all ages. Once everyone got checked in, our community field representative (CFR), Deana Allen, arranged everyone into teams. We were on Team Blitzen along with Frazier, a 10-month-old Golden retriever; Spreckles, an 11-month-old yellow lab, and Tuareg, a 5-month-old yellow lab. Each team was given a set of clues for a photo scavenger hunt that Deana and local puppy club leader, Bethany Andrews, had put together. For all 20 items, we had figure out the clue, find its location and take a picture with all the members of the group and the puppies. The goal was to get as many pictures with the items as we could within the time limit.


Deana counted down, and we were off! Teams Cupid, Donner, Comet and finally our team, raced off to find their first stop. Our quest began with stairs at Pioneer Square. Stairs are a common fear for puppies, especially for those puppies who do not have stairs in their home. Trumpet is one of those puppies and I knew that I would have to use lots of praise to get her to walk down the Pioneer Square stairs. Luckily, Trumpet happily walked down the stairs with the rest of Team Blitzen and we got our first picture!


Some puppies also have sensitivity to certain smells. Knowing this, Deana added a coffee shop to our list of places. All of us dashed over to the nearest Java Express. Frazier, Spreckles, Tuareg, Trumpet and all the human members squished in together, and voila! We had taken another successful picture!


Next on our journey was downtown Portland’s mall, Pioneer Place. The mall is a very active place and many puppies can become overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle. There are all sorts of smells and sounds that are unfamiliar. Where else can you find a movie theater, Chinese food, sports supply stores and a big glass walkway? The puppies of Team Blitzen were expert mall rats. All four rode the elevator, stepped over strange surfaces, walked through the clear walkway and strolled through the food court in a manner which made their puppy raisers proud.


The fun didn’t stop there though. We watched the buses and bicycles go by, walked by fountains, saw statues, and navigated through heavy traffic and crowds. All in all, we were able to socialize our puppies to downtown Portland, and make it a very positive experience for all involved. This is very important considering that downtown is where the puppies will likely go to work in their formal guidework training. The scavenger hunt and camaraderie of our teams made this event a huge success for the puppies as well as a lot of fun! We can’t wait until our next big adventure. Hawaii anyone?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

From the Pros: Happy and Healthy Holidays

Yellow Lab wearing a Santa hat
Our dogs are part of the family and we want them to have a safe and happy holiday too. Here are some tips from GDB's training staff to keep your pet in good health over the coming season:
  • With the arrival of cold weather some areas may have ice-melting chemicals or salt placed on sidewalks. Whenever possible avoid walking your pet through these substances and wash off his paws when you return home. These chemicals may burn your dog’s pads and make him ill if he licks his paws in an effort to clean them.
  • Beware of pools of anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) leaked from vehicles; dogs are attracted to its sweet taste and ingesting even a very small amount can be deadly. If you suspect your dog has lapped at anti-freeze call a veterinarian immediately.
  • Holiday plants make a home festive but can be a hazard to pets. Poinsettias can cause mouth blisters if the dog chews on them and large amounts could cause gastro-intestinal upset. Holly berries and, more seriously, mistletoe, may cause severe vomiting and diarrhea. Plants should be placed out of reach of puppies and young dogs who may attempt to eat them.
  • The Christmas tree itself may be very attractive to dogs and not just those leg-lifting males who believe that the tree was placed in the living room for their convenience! Tinsel, flocking and ornaments could all cause intestinal obstructions and make a dog very ill. Electric cords on a lighted tree may be tempting for a puppy to chew with disastrous results. Extra care should be taken if chemicals are added to the water to keep the tree fresh as your dog may be tempted by a novel water source. If you have a puppy or young dog around you may even consider putting an x-pen around the Christmas tree!
  • The holidays are a time when there is often a lot of chocolate around – chocolate tree ornaments, gift wrapped boxes and baking chocolate. Even though it may be one of our favorite treats, chocolate can be lethal to dogs. It contains Theobromine and the darker the chocolate the more of that element is present. Just a few ounces can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, even seizures and death. If your dog eats chocolate call a veterinarian for advice immediately.
  • The kitchen and dining room will be full of wonderful odors that may tempt even the most mannerly pet. Aluminum foil and plastic wrap used to contain food may seem like a treat to a greedy dog and can easily cause intestinal damage. Poultry bones are a well known hazard but even bigger bones can make a dog very ill.
  • With many guests and family members coming and going this may be a good time to remind everyone that dogs should not be fed people food; not only does it promote begging but if everyone slips the dog a little bit of something it could add up to one sick puppy!
  • A house full of guests presents that many more opportunities for doors and gates to accidentally be left open. Sometimes no one notices the pet is missing until it is too late. A reminder notice to close the door and gate may save your pet’s life.
  • Many dogs enjoy the excitement and commotion around the holidays but some may find it overwhelming. Having a crate or quiet room for your dog to relax and get away from the hubbub is a good idea. Don’t be surprised if your dog forgets his housebreaking or presents other uncharacteristic behaviors in these busy days. Make the effort to have some quality time with your pet and see that his daily routine isn’t too disrupted. A long walk after Christmas dinner will be good for both of you!

Spalding Has Been Found!

We have a happy update for you this morning regarding Spalding, the Guide Dog that went missing over the weekend in Minneapolis, Minn. Spalding was returned safe and sound – and warm! - last night. A neighbor had taken him in during the snow storm on Sunday. A friend of the neighbor saw a local news segment last night about Spalding and alerted her friend. The neighbor in turn phoned Spalding's partner and the two were reunited. Many thanks to all of you who helped us get the word out and were sending kind thoughts. A very happy ending indeed!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Help Us Find a Missing Guide Dog in Minneapolis

Please help us get the word out about a missing Guide Dog named Spalding near Minneapolis, Minn. The following is our all-points-bulletin media release; we're hoping you can help us with Spalding's safe return!

# # #

GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND NEEDS ASSITANCE IN
FINDING LOST GUIDE DOG LAST SEEN IN MINNEAPOLIS AREA

San Rafael, Calif. (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) - Guide Dogs for the Blind is asking for your assistance in locating a lost Guide Dog named Spalding. The 2-year-old male yellow Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever cross breed has been specially trained to assist his blind partner in safe mobility. The two have been traveling as a team since October.

Spalding has been missing from his home since Sunday, December 12 at 1:30 p.m. He was last seen on the 1700 block of Marshall Avenue (between Fairview and Snelling) in Saint Paul, Minn.
Spalding has tattoos in both ears with his ID number. If you have any information about this lost Guide Dog, please contact Graduate Services at Guide Dogs for the Blind by calling toll-free: 800-295-4050.

Established in 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind provides enhanced mobility and quality of life to people who are blind through lifetime partnerships with Guide Dogs. This non-profit organization, headquartered in San Rafael, Calif. is the largest school of its kind and has produced more than 11,000 partnerships across the United States and Canada. Services are offered entirely free of charge.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Snapshots!

Here's a sampling of the photos we received during the month of November 2010, both via email (information@guidedogs.com; all submissions can be seen on Flickr), and posted to our Flickr Group Photo Pool (join today!). Enjoy!

GDB pups yellow Lab Rivers and Golden Khaki at play. Submitted by Pat Whitehead.
GDB pups yellow Lab Khaki and Lab/Golden Cross Rivers at play. Submitted by Pat Whitehead.

Two young girls, Jenna and Bethany, along with yellow lab Spritz, enjoying the tall grass. Two young girls, Jenna and Bethany, along with yellow lab Spritz, enjoying the tall grass. Submitted via GDB's Group Photo Pool on Flickr by TuliaSpritz.

Guide Dog puppy Havarti at the beach, submitted by Gerald Edwards.Guide Dog puppy Havarti at the beach, submitted by Gerald Edwards. Gerald writes: "Havarti went on her first long camping trip to New Brighton State Beach in Capitola, CA. She had her first experience at the ocean and she loved it. This is a picture of her at the beach esplanade in old downtown Capitola. She enjoyed sunbathing and just watching the waves, people and birds. She got lots of oohs and awes as people walked by.

Yellow Lab career change dogs Adrienne and Atlas at work as Yellow Lab career change dogs Adrienne and Atlas at work as "Tail Waggin' Tutor" Therapy Dogs at the Clovis Library. Submitted by Mary Catalano.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for Our Volunteers

Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, we received this tribute to one of GDB's most dedicated and long-standing volunteers. At this time of year, we want to take a moment to express our gratitude for ALL of our volunteers, whether they've been with us for 5 months or 50 years. Without you, we couldn't provide our free services and make a difference in the lives of so many. So to all of our volunteers this holiday season, thank you. And to Gwen Reimann, congratulations on nearly 50 years as a member of our family.

By puppy raiser Mary Ann Epstein

Gwen Reimann
Gwen Reimann, leader of “Diamonds in the Ruff” puppy raisers of Los Angeles County, was the guest of honor at a surprise celebration earlier this month to honor her many years of service as a GDB volunteer. The celebration was held in Sycamore Canyon Park in Diamond Bar, Calif., and Gwen’s GDB friends and fellow puppy raisers, past and current, contributed pages and photos to make a huge scrapbook of GDB puppy memories. Known for her sunny disposition and outgoing, friendly personality, Gwen was thanked for her dedication, patience, guidance, encouragement and helpfulness.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Gwen was introduced to Guide Dogs for the Blind by a childhood friend. Later, when Gwen and her husband Jack moved to San Rafael, within walking distance of GDB's California campus, it was just natural that she would volunteer. Of course like most campus volunteers, she yearned for the coveted job of puppy tester! But there was a long waiting list because there was (and still is) rarely an opening. In the meantime, Gwen accepted any job GDB gave her, including stuffing envelopes. She was around so much and got to know everyone; the first of the many guided tours she gave of the campus came one day when she had to wing it and do the job in a pinch. As the story goes, she excelled at the task, and there was no looking back. Eventually, she was rewarded with that special job of puppy testing. It was a sad day years later when she announced to GDB that her husband was being transferred to Los Angeles and she couldn’t volunteer for on campus anymore.

Gwen Reimann
She learned, however, that she could still volunteer for GDB while in Los Angeles, but under the auspices of 4-H which was responsible for the youth puppy raising program at the time. When Jack and Gwen settled in Diamond Bar in 1970, Gwen contacted Connie Henry of Los Angeles puppy raisers and volunteered. She also met and helped out with the puppy station wagon (now the puppy truck) when it came south to deliver pups. Eventually she was asked to be a leader of Pomona Valley 4-H puppy raisers. For a long time the group was affectionately known as “Gwen’s Group” which met in Diamond Bar. Then in the late 90s the group adopted the name “Diamonds in the Ruff” suggested by Dan Wheeler.

2010 marks Gwen’s 40th anniversary of volunteering for 4-H in Los Angeles County and near 50 years of volunteering for GDB.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Travels: News From TSA

The following is a letter we received today here at GDB from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) describing the new techniques being used at airport security checkpoints. We thought it was worth sharing since many of you will be traveling during the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving, and safe travels!

airplane

Dear Members of the Disability Community:

You have probably been hearing and seeing a lot in the media lately about the Transportation Security Administration's new screening procedures. As much of what has been circulating has been exaggerated and/or inaccurate, and with the holiday travel season rapidly approaching, I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify our procedures and hopefully address concerns you may have.

TSA began piloting the use of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) in 2007. It is a highly effective security tool, and represents the best technology available today to screen passengers for both metallic and non~metallic threats. Currently, there are 411 imaging technology units at 69 airports. The most important thing you need to do to prepare for AIT screening is to make sure that you remove everything from your pockets (including your wallet) and also remove any bulky jewelry.

TSA uses two types of imaging technology, millimeter wave and backscatter. The backscatter machines use narrow, low-intensity X-ray beams scanned over the body surface at high speed. The amount of radiation a person receives is minuscule; a person receives more radiation naturally each hour than from one screening with a backscatter unit. In fact a traveler is exposed to less radiation from one AIT scan than from 2 minutes of an airline flight. It produces an image that resembles a chalk-etching, and has a privacy filter applied to the entire body.

Millimeter wave technology bounces harmless electromagnetic waves off of the human body to create a black and white image. The energy emitted by millimeter wave technology is thousands of times less than what is permitted for a cell phone. Millimeter wave technology has a privacy filter that blurs facial features.

This technology is safe. Multiple third-party scientific and health organizations, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Johns Hopkins University, have collected and analyzed data and concur that this technology is safe for both officers and passengers. For more information about safety see http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/index.shtm.

Great efforts have been taken to ensure passengers' privacy in implementing this technology. To that end, all images generated by imaging technology are viewed in a remotely-located security location that is not visible to the public. The officer assisting the passenger cannot view the image, and as an additional precaution, the officer viewing the image is in a remote location and never sees the passenger.

In addition to the privacy filters discussed previously, imaging technology cannot store, export, print, or transmit images. All images are deleted from the system after they are reviewed by the remotely located operator, and all machines have zero storage capability because they are disabled by the vendor before they reach airports. No cameras, cellular telephones, or any device capable of capturing an image is permitted in the resolution room.

Imaging technology has had a very high rate of acceptance among the traveling public. Since imaging technology has been deployed at airports, over 99 percent of passengers choose to be screened by this technology over alternative screening procedures. According to a new CBS poll, 4 out of 5 Americans support the use of advanced imaging technology at airports nationwide (cbsnews.com). Visit http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/ait/index.shtm to see more independent polling on AIT acceptance.

While you have probably also been hearing a lot about pat-downs lately, the use of pat-downs is not new. Pat-downs have long been one of the many security measures TSA and many other countries have used in its risk-based approach to help detect hidden and dangerous items such as explosives like the one we saw in the failed terrorist attack last Christmas Day. Pat-downs are primarily used to resolve alarms that occur at a walk-through metal detector, if an anomaly is detected during AIT screening, or during random screening. In any of these situations you will be given a pat-down before you're able to continue on to your flight. External medical devices can be detected by AIT. Remember if you are uncomfortable being patted-down in public you can always ask for a private screening, and if you have areas that are sensitive or have an external medical device, please let the security officer know.

AIT screening is optional for everyone; however, passengers who opt out of screening by AIT or walk-through metal detectors must undergo alternate screening using a pat-down. There is nothing punitive about our measures; it just makes good security sense. Given that those who wish to do us harm have moved towards the use of artfully concealed smaller items and homemade explosives, the pat-down you receive will be more thorough than what you may have received previously. Pat-downs are conducted to provide an equivalent degree of screening and ensure that the passenger is free of all prohibited items.

Some people with disabilities are ineligible for screening using AIT including the following: people who use wheelchairs and scooters who cannot stand; anyone who cannot stand with their arms raised at shoulder level for the 5-7 second duration of the scan; anyone who is not able to stand without the use of a cane, crutch, walker, etc; people who use service animals; people using or carrying oxygen; and individuals accompanying and providing assistance to those individuals described above. These people will be screened using alternate screening techniques including pat-downs.

I hope that you find the information provided useful and wish you safe and happy travels. We will continue to work with you, our partners, to implement procedures that screen all passengers with the dignity and respect they deserve. Should you have additional questions, please direct them to Rhonda Basha, Director, Office of Disability Policy and Outreach (ODPO) at rhonda.basha@dhs.gov or Brewster Thackeray, Senior Policy Advisor, ODPO at brewster.thackeray@tsa.dhs.gov.

Kimberly Alton
Special Counselor Transportation Security Administration

The letter above did spark some questions when it was received as how this affects Guide Dogs specifically. The following are some tips and explanations provided by GDB Class Supervisor Jim Dugan.

What to expect if you are blind or visually impaired and use a service dog
If you are blind or visually impaired and use a service dog, both you and your dog will have to go through screening.

What choices, if any, do you have in the screening process?
  • You will not be eligible for screening using Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).
  • You can choose to undergo Walk Through Metal Detector (WTMD) screening, or request a pat-down. A pat-down may be conducted in a private screening area by an officer of the same gender.
IF YOU AND YOUR DOG GO THROUGH THE WTMD TOGETHER AND SET OFF THE ALARM, BOTH OF YOU WILL HAVE TO UNDERGO ADDITIONAL SCREENING.
  • To resolve the passenger alarm, the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) will conduct a pat-down to verify that no prohibited items are present.
  • Since your dog’s harness most likely contains metal, the TSO will need to physically inspect your dog and its belongings (collar, harness, leash, backpack, vest, etc.) in order to resolve the alarm. Although the dog’s harness will not be removed, it and other items that s/he may be carrying (such as a backpack) are subject to screening.
  • Note: If you and your dog walk through the WTMD individually and one or both of you set off the alarm, additional screening will be conducted as described above on whoever causes the alarm.
What you can do to facilitate the screening process
  • Inform the Security Officer that the animal accompanying you is a service animal and not a pet, and carry appropriate identification to verify this fact.
  • Inform the Security Officer how you and your dog will walk through the WTMD (walking together or with the service dog walking in front or behind you).
  • Keep control of your service animal while the TSO conducts the screening.
What else you can expect
The TSO should:
  • Offer to assist you in placing your accessible property on the X-ray belt.
  • Provide you with verbal instructions regarding the screening process.
  • Allow you to stay with your dog throughout the entire screening process.
  • Allow you to go to the front of the screening line if you choose to do so.
  • Allow you to go to the front of the line to be re-screened when you have to leave the checkpoint to take your animal to a service animal relief area.
Other important things to know
  • If you leave the sterile area to relieve your dog, you will have to undergo the entire screening process again. When you return to the security checkpoint, however, you are entitled to move to the front of the screening line to expedite the process.
  • Medication for service animals is permitted through security checkpoints once it has undergone X-ray or visual inspection screening. All liquids, gels, or aerosols will have to undergo Liquid Container Screening.

Pedestrian Update: Hybrid Car News

Infiniti M35HWe thought you might be interested to know that Infiniti has announced that its M35h model, set to debut in Europe in mid-2011, will be the first hybrid car to have an audible pedestrian warning system come as a standard feature. No news on when the model might be available in the U.S. or Canada, but for more information on the car and its audio warning system, please visit http://bit.ly/efHi1J.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Puppy Raisers' YouTube Series Debuts at New Media Film Festival

Guide Dog puppy Ricki
Puppy raisers Amie and Matt Chapman of Hayward, Calif., are the dynamic duo behind the popular YouTube series, "Growing Up Guide Pup" (GUGP). The series is a weekly video blog that highlights the adventures of raising their current Guide Dog puppy, Ricki.

Producing the series was a natural fit - Matt has a passion for making videos, Amie has a passion for raising puppies, so the couple thought that combining both of their interests could be a lot of fun.

"I had read many great blogs written by puppy raisers that wanted to share their experience with people," Amie said. "A few days before we picked up Ricki I had the idea of doing a video blog instead of a written one."

After just a few weeks of airing the series, their viewership started to grow. Amie and Matt were getting messages from people all over the world, including from people who are visually impaired.

"We started out just wanting to share with people the experience we were having raising Ricki," said Amie, "and it turned into more. Guide Dog users are getting an idea of what their dog went through as a puppy, and we have had a lot of people wanting to know more about how to become puppy raisers. We are trying to be honest about how Ricki is progressing, and we are showing people how much work puppy raisers really do."

What started out as a hobby, has begun to take on a life of it's own.

"Amie and I are really pleased with the progress our series has been making," Matt said. "We just had our festival world premier at the New Media Film Festival in San Francisco where 'Growing Up Guide Pup' was viewed by a lot of industry professionals, and included judges from Summit Entertainment, Pixar, and Industrial Light and Magic. We also were able to do a Q&A after our screening and chat with a lot of people. I'm most pleased that our series goes against the grain, and was unique for its category at the film festival (web series)."

"Growing Up Guide Pup" has a special quality about it, as its popularity will attest. "We design our format with the visually impaired in mind," said Matt, "and we are also making something that a whole family can enjoy." Indeed, GUGP is featured on GDB's own Kids Website.

"Where our show will go next?" asks Amie. "We have no idea, but we are having a lot of fun making it. Raising puppies over the last 8-1/2 years, and being part of the Guide Dogs family has been great. We have made a lot of new friends along the way, and have raised some amazing dogs. Thanks to everyone who watches our show and continues to support us."

Matt agrees. "We are going to keep going with the series, and see where this adventure takes us next!"

You can find the entire series at youtube.com/user/GuideDogManiac.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Honoring Our History: Serving Veterans Still a Priority

An American Flag
As you may know, Guide Dogs for the Blind was founded to help wounded servicemen who would return from World War II without their sight. Reaching out to and serving veterans is still a vital part of our program today.

A great example of our outreach efforts to veterans came just at the end of October when we held a "GDB Lifestyles Workshop" at the Nevada Department of Rehabilitation in its Services for the Blind division in Reno. Lifestyle workshops are offered to people who are interested in exploring the option of getting a Guide Dog for mobility.

The event drew more than seventy greater Reno-area participants, including many veterans. Entrepreneur and Guide Dog handler Mark Berry set the tone with coffee that he roasted and brewed from his company Blind Dog Coffee. Eight local GDB puppy raisers came with their pups, and everyone who wanted a chance to experience a "Juno walk" was able to take advantage of that opportunity (a walk with a person simulating the work of a Guide Dog). GDB ambassador dog Nina was also on hand to provide guided walks with a dog as well.

These lifestyle workshops are a way for us to connect with our history by meeting current-day veterans that could benefit from our services. So on this Veterans Day, we honor our past, salute those that have served and continue to serve our country, and strive to make a difference in the lives of veterans well into the future.

Newshounds!

Betty White holding a Guide Dog puppy
  • Stars & Their Pets: Betty's Little Leader (People Magazine's peoplepets.com, October 25, 2010): "Walk of Fame" features a photo of longtime GDB supporter Betty White with Guide Dog puppy Phil at a GDB event in Montecito, Calif.
  • A Dog Guide for Inwood (West Lynn Herald, October 2010): GDB alumnus Doug Robinson offers tips on interacting with his Guide Dog, Reggie.
  • Steady Hedy (KXTV-TV/ABC Sacramento, October 8, 2010): Featuring GDB alumna Carolyn Wing Greenlee and her Guide Dog Hedy. Video included.

Head of the Charles Regatta
GDB Alumnae Aerial Gilbert and Natalie McCarthy were members of a four-person rowing team that won the gold at the Head of the Charles Regatta in its first adaptive event for disabled rowers. Aerial, with her Guide Dog, Splash, subsequently visited Perkins School for the Blind to teach the sport to blind youth.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Breeders Digest, September 2010

A pile of baby yellow Lab pups
Here's our announcements for the litters born during the month of September, 2010, as well as the dogs newly accepted in to our breeding program. To see photos of each litter, click on the links below to take you to our Flickr site.

Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers
Lab x Golden Crosses

New Breeders

Labrador Retrievers
  • Hurley – raised in OR

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Snapshots!

Apparently, you shutterbugs out there really enjoy the Autumn months! During October, our email inbox (information@guidedogs.com) was overflowing with amazing photo submissions (which we posted to our Flickr site), as was our Group Photo Pool (www.flickr.com/groups/guidedogsfortheblind). Here's a sampling of the great images that we received. We hope you keep those photos and stories coming!

Emily and Leche
The Have Paws Will Travel puppy raising club of Arapahoe County, Colo., had it's 17th annual Halloween Party, Chili Dinner and Costume Contest in October. The costumes puppy raisers came up with for their dogs were clever and impressive! Pictured is Emily Groves with yellow Lab puppy Leche; their costumes won them First Place in the "Team" category (they were cookies and milk). You can enjoy many many more fun pictures at the club's website, hpwtdogmom.org. Submitted by Andrea Loughry.

January and Nancy
Guide Dog puppy January and puppy raiser Nancy Bloyer in front of a giant Micky Mouse Jack-o-lantern. Nancy and January were at Disneyland to participate in the 20th Annual CHOC Walk in the Park, which supports Children's Hospital of Orange County. More than 14,000 Walkers raised a record breaking $2 million. Submitted by Nancy Bloyer.

Elk Grove Puppies with a Vision puppy raising club
Elk Grove Puppies with a Vision puppy raising club on an excursion to Fog Willow Pumpkin Farm in Wilton, Calif. The puppies got to experience going up and down a stack of hay bales, sniffing various farm animals, taking a hay ride and going through some obstacles in a playground. They had a great time. Submitted by Gerald Edwards.

Lone Star pups in their Halloween costumesThe six puppies being raised in Texas as part of the Lone Star Puppy Raising Group show off their Halloween costumes. Submitted by Shari Nederhoff.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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

Retired guide Freida
Greetings!

My name is Freida and I used to be a Guide Dog. I graduated with my partner as her very first Guide Dog in June of 2000. She and I traveled EVERYWHERE together for almost eight years. Planes, trains and automobiles… and cruise ships and ferry boats too! We even went to Alaska one time with 20 other guide doggies and their partners - we had a blast. We have the good fortune of living in Hawaii! I really love it here. Since I was raised in Arizona, I love all the sun.

My partner and I truly are soul mates; when we were working together, we always know what the other was thinking - we could read each other’s minds! It was kind of spooky, but ours was a very special bond. I'm retired from guidework now, but I'm still finding loads of adventures to keep me busy.

You see, several years ago I got really sick and could have died. Doc, one of the veterinarians at GDB, operated on me and made me okay again. I love Doc. Still, I slowed down a bit. My partner and I had a good chat. She told me through her tears as she hugged me that she wanted me to have a good, quality retirement. She didn't want my retirement to mean that I'd sit around and do nothing - no sirree!

So, she thought of something that we could still do together, something that would get me out and about and help me stay active and fit, as well as something that would be a lot of fun. I am happy to say that I am now a Therapy Dog! My new job is to visit with patients in the hospital as well as patients in two different hospice facilities. They get to pet me and love me. It helps the people to forget their worries and smile a bit.

People always grin when they see me saunter in, tail a-wagging, grin on my whitening face. I give kisses and tail wags every time we go into a patient’s room. It is a really cool new job, because it is fun to see the wide, joyful smiles from the people I visit. I've been a therapy dog for going on three years, and have visited with about 2,000 patients.

I know that my visits make a difference in these people's lives. For example, I once visited with a patient who the nurses said was conscious, but that she had not talked or opened her eyes for at least a couple of weeks. When we went to visit with her and her family, the nurse told the lady my name, and I licked the underside of her hand that had gently been placed on my nose. She started to pet my head and scratch my ears. Then the most surprising thing happened: she opened her eyes and said “Freida, I love you.” WOW, how cool was that! She smiled and everyone else cried quietly. It was a happy moment I will never forget. I never saw her again, but it sure was wonderful to see that wide smile on her face and hear her say she loved me.

Love, licks and lots of wags,

Freida

The Royal Treatment

Submitted by GDB alumna Tiffany Jolliff

Reserved for Railey sign
My Guide Dog, Railey, has become quite the celebrity at a local restaurant here on the Illinois State University campus. Every day between classes, we walk over to Einstein Brothers Bagels for lunch. Railey has become quite enamored with a particular table there. If "his" table is occupied, he goes so far as to stand nearby and stare at the occupants until they inevitably pick up their food and depart with a comment like "I was finished anyway."

One particular day, we found that someone was sitting at the favorite table, and were going nowhere fast. Railey and I reluctantly sat in a different spot, but it didn't feel right for either of us. The manager noticed and came over, questioning why we were sitting somewhere new. I replied that it did feel kind of awkward.

"Why don't I reserve that table for you?" the manager asked. I thought she was joking, so I went along with it.

"Yeah! A Reserved For Railey sign would be hysterical!"

"Well then, that's what we'll do."

I was shocked! A table just for us? She proved that she really was serious when she brought out a digital camera and posed Railey next to the table. After some expert shooting, she got the perfect picture.

By the time Railey and I returned to Einstein Brothers on our next visit, sure enough, a sign with Railey's picture was prominently placed in the middle of "his" table, secured in a thick glass case. Since then, Railey has become quite the star with everyone who comes in the restaurant, and is enjoying all of the attention and extra pats.

One Kibble at a Time

Sometimes, our dogs simply make us laugh. The silly things they do endear them to us and allow us to take things a little less seriously. Such was the case recently for GDB alumnus Jean-Pierre Jamous with his Guide Dog Hornet. Jean-Pierre (who is originally from Lebanon and has championed access rights for service dogs in that country) has been a Guide Dog user for 12 years, but recently had such a funny incident with his guide that he wrote us with this tongue-in-cheek announcement of Hornet's new service abilities. We hope you get a chuckle.

Submitted by GDB alumnus Jean-Pierre Jamous

I am very pleased to inform you that I have discovered the ultimate cleaning machine ever made. It is fast, efficient, and highly effective. The results are astonishing.

The discovery came about this morning. I got up and was not fully awake. I had Hornet, my Guide Dog, walking along side of me waiting to be fed.

I reached to his food container and filled an 8-ounce cup. As I turned to enter the kitchen to mix the food with warm water, my hand hit the wall. The plastic cup bounced against the wall, then faster than I could react, it sprung up in the air and the kibble contents came crashing down all over the kitchen floor.

I stood still for a moment, pondering the situation. Remember, I was not fully awake. Hornet stood by me like a good boy. He did not cross the kitchen doorway, despite the tempting mess, because he has been taught by me that this is a forbidden zone to him in the house.

Suddenly, an idea dawned on me. Why not let Hornet do the cleaning? This is not my food. It is his. Technically I wouldn't be breaking the rule I have developed, and since I knew the source of the errant scraps, I wasn't worried about him ingesting something out of the ordinary.

I gave Hornet the okay to sweep the floor. He hesitated as if to say: "Are you sure I can go in there?" I reassured him that it was fine and even turned the light on for him.

At that moment a miracle unfolded before me. Within two minutes - tops - Hornet was done cleaning the floor. To ensure the value of his cleaning capabilities, I wiped the whole floor with my hands. I could not find one piece of food on the ground. Not even under the fridge or stove. His cleaning was faster and more efficient than any broom or machine on the market.

After this magnificent discovery, I thought to myself, "What if I started up a business: Hornet Cleaning Services LLC?" We'd be in high demand! Since Hornet is equipped with all-paw drive and a double layer coat, we could even make house calls in a snow storm. And we could expand - bring along all of Hornet's non-service dog friends, capable of cleaning up other edible messes! People, put your vacuums away, and give us a call today. If there's a kibble mess to be addressed, Hornet is the pooch for the job!

Greetings from Choco-boy

Megan Stewart and Snickers
Remember a few months back when we announced that we had chocolate in our kennels? Well, the chocolate Lab pups are now happily ensconced in their puppy raising homes. We recently got this update about one of the pups, Snickers, submitted by his puppy raiser, Megan Stewart:

Hey everyone, this is Snickers the chocolate puppy, but most people just call me choco-boy. Two months ago I was delivered to my new raiser mom, and was greeted by everyone here in Utah with a rock star's welcome. Everyone enjoyed getting a chance to snuggle with the chocolate puppy and I got kisses and cuddles galore. It was great, but I was glad to be with my raiser mom and start learning how to be a Guide Dog.

I’ve been learning a lot and I try really hard to be a good boy. My very favorite thing to do is go to puppy classes! There are ten other dogs in my group and they are all learning to be Guide Dogs too. It’s really fun to see all my friends every week. I also have two big sisters, Paris and Picassa. Paris used to be a Guide Dog in training but she doesn’t see very well so she came back to be raiser mom's pet dog, and Picassa is a puppy in training like me but she is leaving next month for her formal training. I love my sisters and enjoy teasing them and being a pesky little brother.

I have all my shots now so I get to go places with my raiser mom, and it’s been a lot of fun. I think my favorite outing was when mom took me on a long walk to a waterfall. The water was really cold but I jumped in anyway. There were a lot of birds and chipmunks up there too, but I was a good boy and didn’t try to chase any of them. That’s all for now, I hope everyone and their doggies are doing great.

High Seas Adventure

By GDB alumna Holly McKnight

Holly and Pollyann
When I graduated with my third guide Pollyann, in the summer of 2006 I knew we would have many wonderful adventures together. I would like to tell you about one of my favorites.

In the summer of 2009 some family friends of ours said that they were planning a cruise in January 2010 and that one of the ladies who was going with them needed someone to share a room with. Our friends thought of me and Pollyann. I jumped at the chance because I had wanted to cruise for years.

The first thing we had to do was figure out what was needed to take a dog on the ship, and Carnival Cruise Lines was very willing to work with us. They told us where to find information about traveling internationally with a dog and it turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be. We gathered all necessary papers and set out for South Texas.

When we arrived at the cruise terminal we got on the ship and when I went into my room there were towel animals on my bed. One representing me, and the other, Pollyann. I knew from that moment that it was going to be a great week.

The crew went out of their way to make my trip great and they loved having Pollyann on board. She had bandanas each day that were the same colors that I was wearing. People would seek us out each day to find out what Pollyann was wearing. The cruise line had information in Braille for me. It was great.

The only thing that was a bit rough on our trip was the fact that it was cold. We were thinking that leaving Texas in January meant that we would get away from the cold, but it was not to be.

We went from Texas to Key West Florida for our first stop. It was really neat watching the ship dock and move sideways. I have enough sight to be able to watch things pass us. Other than that, I could not tell that the ship was moving.

In Key West we had arranged to take a city tour so we went on an open train and froze. We all took turns holding Pollyann so that she could help us stay warm. We also got some Key Lime Pie that was very good.

Our second stop was Freeport in The Bahamas. We took a city tour there as well. By that time we had learned our lesson and rode on a regular bus. It was much warmer, although still not what we would consider toasty.

Our final stop in The Bahamas was Nassau where my dad and I got in the water with dolphins. Pollyann waited for me on the beach with my mom and had many people admiring her. She loved it.

In short, our cruise was amazing and I would never have tried it without my amazing girl. She easily traveled through the hundreds of people on the ship and made it such that I could too. I could tell how many people there were and in her usual style Pollyann easily went around them. Our table staff at meals were also very happy to have a dog on the ship. We were in many pictures and had a great time on our wonderful cruise.

The most frequently asked question that I got was "where does she go to the bathroom on the ship?" Well, the crew had a box set up for her in a private area away from the public and it worked great.

In short, if someone is considering taking a cruise with one of GDB's amazing guides, I say do it!

Finding Their Wings

The Eager Eye puppy raising club in front of Alaska Airline's mock-up training aircraft
Alaska Airlines hosted the Eager Eye puppy raising club of Issaquah, Wash., at Alaska's Flight Operations and Training Center near Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle this past weekend. The club arranged the visit with the airline to give their pups an in-cabin airplane experience using the airline's mock-up training aircraft. The club's nine puppies were able to board the mock-up aircraft, sit with their raisers in real aircraft seating and have a life-like experience. The outing included beverage cart use, PA announcements, boarding, in-cabin luggage handling and de-planing. What an excursion!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Breeders Digest, August 2010

Starling and her litter of pups
Ta da! Here's our litter announcements for the month of August. As we told you in our July Breeder's Digest, we've reorganized the way we archive the littermate photos that accompany this column. From now on, you'll be able to click on the link to any litter listed below, and it will take you to a Flickr set devoted entirely to that litter. All of the litters will now be catalogued according to the name of the dam. Yay! We hope you like the change!

PS - we snuck a few extra images in the July Littermate photos under our old filing system... just a little bonus puppy love!

Labrador Retrievers
Golden Retrievers
Lab x Golden Crosses

New Breeders

Labrador Retrievers
  • Bahama – raised in OR
  • Carlita – raised in CA
  • Joyous – raised in CA
  • Trella – raised in CA

Canine Heroes Wine Auction 2010

George Thompson, with his wife Margot, greet a Golden Retriever puppy held by GDB staff member Denise St. Jean.
This past weekend, we held our 8th Annual Canine Heroes Wine Auction in the beautiful Napa Valley. Beginning with an intimate Winemaker dinner on Friday night in the wine cave at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, the weekend was off to a great start. The Wine Auction itself was on Saturday, held at Black Stallion Winery. Guests enjoyed a reception where they sampled food and wine from some of Napa's acclaimed wineries and restaurants, as well as bid on a host of silent auction lots. The evening progressed with a four-course gourmet meal with a keynote address by GDB alumnus George Thompson (pictured above; his Guide Dog Cairo is out of the frame), and culminated in a grand Live Auction.

"I loved the energy, camaraderie, the total success of both evenings," said Interim CEO Morgan Watkins. "It was thrilling, and thanks to staff, volunteers, donors, graduates, and dogs, we had two spectacular nights to remember."

The festivities raised more than $290,000, proceeds of which will go toward supporting GDB's veterinary expenses. Didn't make it to the auction? You can still support GDB with a donation here: guidedogs.com/donate.

Special thanks to Co-Chairs Paula Kornell and Joan Boyd, and the following corporate sponsors: Guggenheim Partners Asset Management, LLC; State Street Bank and Trust Company; Albourne America, LLC; Callan Associates; Goldman Sachs Asset Management; Grosvenor Capital Management, L.P.; The Winetasting Network; Bank of Marin; BlackRock, Inc.; Dodge & Cox; Friess Associates; Invesco; The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation; Woodruff-Sawyer & Co.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Snapshots!

Keep those photo submissions coming! We love getting great photos of Guide Dog puppies, working guides, retired guides and career change dogs as they are out and about doing so many fun things. Here's a sampling of the photos we received during the month of September 2010, both via email (information@guidedogs.com; all submissions can be seen on Flickr), and posted to our Flickr Group Photo Pool (join today!). Enjoy!

Black Lab puppy ZorbaZorba, a 5 month-old black lab Guide Dog Puppy, stands next to a wheel barrow filled with orange & white pumpkins, huge sunflower heads, and indian corn. Submitted by hpwtdogmom via GDB's Flickr Group Photo Pool.

Jim and Vickie Kennedy with Vickie's retired guide Freida (left) and current Guide Dog Angela (right)Jim and Vickie Kennedy with Vickie's retired guide Freida (left) and current Guide Dog Angela (right). They are pictured in Honolulu, Hawaii, with Waikiki/Diamond Head in the background. Submitted by Jim and Vickie Kennedy.

GDB puppy in training Cabo, and career change dog HibachiCabo Reunion: A picture at Seaport Village in downtown San Diego featuring GDB puppy in training Cabo, and career change dog Hibachi. Part of Hibachi's new adoptive family is in the photo. Submitted by Pat Salzarulo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

From the Pros: Keeping your pet safe this time of year

Here are some handy tips for dealing with your pet dog during this fall season, from Tami Shankle, one of GDB's Community Field Representatives.

Drawing of a tree with fall colorOctober brings crisp apples and spooks in the night. Keeping your pet safe and confident can be easy with a little forethought.

Many backyard fruit trees are dropping their bounty. Remember to keep your pet away from fallen fruit and nuts. A quick yard check before letting your dog loose and close supervision can save tummy troubles later.

Compost piles are bulking up with the byproducts of the summer garden. What is good for the soil can be especially dangerous or toxic to pets. Compost piles should always be kept securely fenced off with no access from your pets.

Halloween brings owls of goodies, scary costumes and a stream of excited trick-or -treaters to your door! Young and more cautious pets would do well to skip the evening’s frightful festivities all together. A better option would be resting comfortably, crated in a bedroom away from the temptation and the confusing array of costumes. Older, more confident pets can be secured on tie down a safe distance away from the door where they can watch the stream of visitors without worry of open doors, over-zealous greetings, dropped treats and scary visitors.

Yellow Labs dressed as ghosts and holding pumpkin-shaped goody bags in their mouths
Thinking of taking your older pet trick or treating with you? Many pets take wearing costumes in stride but others are more sensitive to new "gear." Give them time to adapt or keep your costume choice simple. While making the rounds keep a close eye that your pet is not becoming overwhelmed by the decorations and costumes designed to spook! Remember a steady stream of ghouls can be tiring for even the most confident pet! For those softer pets, pick a less hectic time to introduce them to odd noises, costumed folks and running, candy filled children!

With a bit of planning you and your pet can enjoy the sights and the sounds of the season.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lots of Labs, Oodles of Poodles!

Walkers with their dogs on the trail at the Dog Day event
On a recent Sunday in September, our great friends at Mt. Hood Skibowl Adventure Park joined with dog lovers from across the Portland area to celebrate Mother Nature with their first-ever DOG DAY, all in support of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Along with big-hearted friends like those at Lexidog Boutique and Social Club, as well as The Hotel Monaco (Portland's most pet-friendly place to stay), more than 100 dogs and their buddies assembled on Mt. Hood for a day of fun and exercise.

This inaugural event offered three different hiking courses through the Mt. Hood National Forest: an easy one mile path, a moderate two mile trek, and a challenging six mile hike. Along with the fresh air and exercise, a variety of dog-oriented vendor booths were set up (featuring everything from canine oil portraits to doggy raincoats), as was a dog-friendly Beer Garden. There were also great prizes for the Best Pet Tricks!

Walkers registering with their dogs under the tentWe are thrilled that there were so many dog lovers who got up early on a Sunday morning to come out and play! Within the first 15 minutes of registration, we’d already been emptied of the donated doggy goody bags – and folks just kept on coming. As you can see from the photos, we had more wagging tails per square inch than any other place in Oregon that day!

It was an incredible response to this first attempt for a special day to recognize Guide Dogs. To our huge delight, everyone is already talking about next year! We hope this is just the beginning of another wonderful relationship between GDB and some very special folks in our community.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Newshounds!

National Guide Dog Month Media Coverage:
  • It's National Guide Dog Month! (KPTV Fox 12 Oregon): Instructor Dan Rollings talks about Guide Dogs and the Petco/Natural Balance effort to raise $1 million dollars for guide dog organizations during the month of September.
  • Pet of the Week/National Guide Dog Month (KOIN TV Oregon): Director of Research and Development Michele Pouliot details National Guide Dog Month.
  • National Guide Dog Month (WLS-TV Chicago): Instructor/Graduate Services Field Manager Lauren Ross interviewed about National Guide Dog Month (embedded video below).
GDB in the news!
video

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Road Construction Hazards

By GDB alumnus Ernest Jones

This is an article Ernest wrote in his local newspaper pointing out some pedestrian hazards in a road construction zone in his town.

For several hours, I puzzled over the noise rolling across the valley. It didn't sound like any farm machinery, and that was all I could think of. It was only after my wife told me there was road construction going on outside that I could put a picture to the noise. As the county workers came down our road that morning, I thought of the great improvements that could be made to the roads.

Starting on our walk the next morning, I never considered that this walk with my Guide Dog would be different than any other day. After all, the roads were still in the same place, so why should this walk be any different from all the others?

But very soon I discovered there was a problem: where was the edge of the pavement? My feet told me I was walking on gravel, so where I was standing should be the road's shoulder. Turns out I was actually well out toward the center of the road. Not only did I have trouble, but so did my guide for everything was different for him too. Still, I figured it couldn't be too bad so we continued on our way.

When I gave the cue for my guide to move to the edge of the road, he seemed very hesitant to move over to the left. Many times when he had me right on the pavement's edge where I needed to walk, my foot would find that the shoulder was anywhere between one inch to several inches below the level of the pavement. More than once I twisted my ankle as my foot slipped off the pavement.

I decided to cut our walk short and we headed home. At that point, I knew very soon we had to round a ninety degree corner, one my guide liked to cut across. Once we passed that corner, however, we would find a nice wide, rather smooth shoulder - one where we could walk fast with little worry of tripping or stumbling.

But I found that this corner and even the nice wide shoulder had been greatly changed. In rounding the corner I tried to get my guide clear over to the left side but he kept crowding me onto the road. Finally insisting he move off the pavement I found him many inches below me and found a steep gravel bank sloping way down; there was no way my guide nor I could walk safely off the pavement here. Worse yet, I found that even the area where we had never had a problem now had a sharp drop-off of at least two inches below the pavement.

Nearing the next 90 degree corner I relaxed for again, we would have a wide shoulder to walk on. But as we made the left turn, the normally wide shoulder was covered with paving and gravel; I guess this was to make it easier for cars to make the sharp right turn.

I know road repairs will usually cause a few problems: there will be traffic delays and people will have to slow down or even stop. It seems road improvement always comes with some cost, but this is the price we pay for better roads.

I don't mean to complain for I understand construction, but for safety sake I could not walk these roads alone for several days. It is not just working with my Guide Dog either; if I used the long white cane I would find traversing these roads even harder.

Thus my guide and I didn't take our normal morning walk for several days. I eventually took the walk by following my wife and our neighbor; after another week or so of learning the changes, I knew my guide and I could try the route alone. Still, for a while, everyone walking or jogging these roads will need to be more alert and careful of rocks being thrown by a passing car.

I am trying to point out one of the difficulties a person may have when it comes to construction work. Being blind I notice this, but for a few days even sighted folk will need to be just a little more careful. I know that in time this will be an even better road.

Have a great day and remember sometimes road work, though maybe a big pain, should be worth it in the long run.

In Home Training: What’s Up with That?

By Emily Simone, GDB Field Service Manager

I have been with GDB for 20 years. I was an instructor for the first ten years, training new and retrain students at our California campus. For the last ten years I’ve been a remote field service manager. In this role, I work from a home office in Central California and work daily with GDB graduates in a large geographical area, which covers all of Central California and the entire state of Colorado.

In mEmily Simoney current role as a field service manager, I wear a lot of hats: trainer, behaviorist, vet assistant, orientation and mobility specialist, grief counselor, transportation specialist and even occasionally a light housekeeper!

It may be surprising to hear that I also continue to instruct new and retrain students with new dogs. How am I able to do this? Through a small but successful program we call “In-home” or “Domicile” training. GDB strives toward making our services available to all qualified applicants. In cases where leaving home to receive Guide Dog training may create a hardship for an individual, in-home training may be an option. In-home training qualification is determined by GDB and with client input. The following are some common reasons an applicant may receive in-home training:
  • Health: The client has very fragile health considerations and asking this type of client to train outside of his home and away from regular medical care and equipment is unsafe and unreasonable. Common health issues that may warrant in-home training include: regular/inflexible medical support needs (such as regular dialysis); necessity to utilize critical medical equipment that can’t be easily transported (such as oxygen); a health disorder that requires intensive, regular support that cannot be effectively managed by GDB’s campus nursing staff.
  • Family issues: Clients that have very young children or care-giving responsibilities to other family members, and no practical access to child-care or adult care assistance may qualify for in-home training.
  • Work: Clients that cannot get appropriate time off their job to come train at one of our campuses may qualify for in-home training, depending on their job commitments and other factors.
  • Age: A person's age may also be a consideration if GDB staff feels bringing a client in to train would be an unreasonable strain on the client’s mental and physical health, or could jeopardize their success.
I have conducted numerous in-home trainings in the last ten years. Each experience is challenging and inspiring. As the instructor, my priority is to teach the client the current training methods and practices that they teach in the residential training programs. This means staying up to date on all current training methods currently taught in class.

The training program length depends on the individual. I’ve conducted most in-home training in approximately 10-17 days. The client is heavily involved in directing his/her program and they identify specific areas and environments on which they would like to focus, i.e. the route from home to work; mastering the bus system; learning a college campus, etc.

There are some clear advantages to training a client in their own home:
  • The client is familiar with the area and able to work with the new dog without ALSO having to learn the lay-out of a new dorm and city.
  • The client is often more relaxed and less stressed, since they remain in their comfortable, familiar environment and routine.
  • The new dog can be immediately oriented to the client’s home, routine and relieving area, and any potential challenge can be addressed promptly.
  • The schedule is demanding but is often more relaxing than the dorm schedule and routine.
  • The instructor is present to educate family and work colleagues on guide dog etiquette and inclusion within the family dynamic.
Over the years I have also found that in-home training is not perfect. Clients can be distracted by home/work/family issues and may not effectively focus on the new dog. Staying in the home environment can lull clients into lax routines that can sabotage work with their new dog. In-home clients miss the fabulous experience of being in class and on campus—and being a part of a group of students and GDB’s community. Often, they miss graduation. This is sad for both the client and the puppy raiser, though most are able to connect in a meaningful manner after the training.

GDB has an excellent residential program and it is very effective and successful for the vast majority of clients we serve. By offering in-home training as an option to those who qualify, we have an opportunity to enhance the independence of as many qualified clients as possible. There is clear value in having both programs available.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Take Us Out to the Ball Game!

Bob Sonnenberg throws out the first pitch at a Mariners-Angels baseball game; his guide Nino is by his side.
When the Seattle Mariners took on the Los Angeles Angels at Seattle's Safeco Field a few weeks back, they were being cheered on by some very special four-footed fans - puppies!

Ten Seattle-Area puppy raising clubs filled the stands with Guide Dog puppies, puppy raisers, and community supporters - more than 600 supporters in all. The event was a fundraiser for the puppy clubs, and due to their impressive ticket sales, Guide Dog puppies were able to take to the field prior to the game, and a GDB representative got to throw out the first pitch! Bob Sonnenberg, with his black Lab guide Nino beside him on the mound, sent the ceremonial pitch blazing across home plate. (Photo by Ben VanHouten, Seattle Mariners.)

GDB alumnus Randy Tedrow and his guide, Clark, were at the game. He submitted this tale of their Safeco Field adventure:

Clark and the Lost Hat

I lost my hat! I lost my very nice hat made of fine wool felt. It is, or was, a very nice hat. Clark and I were at a Mariners baseball game. The Mariners are not the important part of the story, they only provide the backdrop to the sad story of my lost hat.

Clark and I went to the game with about 20–30 GDB puppy raisers, or maybe it was 200–300 (I know there were a lot of puppy raisers!). The puppy raisers had sold a lot of tickets to the game. Clark and I were there representing GDB to all the adoring fans, some of whom were even there for the Mariners!

A nice puppy raiser named Miss Patty picked Clark and I up and we had a nice trip to the field. I had never been to a baseball stadium so early before! We were there before they were letting people inside. In fact, they didn’t want to let us inside until the gates opened. We were there before they even started selling coffee! Can you believe that? We're in Seattle and the coffee wasn’t being sold?

We got inside and I was given a handy name tag to hang around my neck. Clark was having a blast like he always does in a new place. I had to feel sorry for the puppy raisers because they had to walk slower since their puppies weren’t up to Clark speed yet. But, there were lots of cute puppies and proud puppy raisers.

Clark loved working in the wide, almost empty concourses of the stadium. We were almost running and his tail was tapping out a happy rhythm on my leg. We got to the place just back of home plate and well, we waited.

It was fun to talk with some of the other handlers and meet a bunch of puppy raisers. They were all nice people, particularly the ones who got me coffee!

Now, I am very graceful and promptly spilled my first Starbuck’s coffee! I am very good at spilling coffee and like to keep in practice. Clark was not impressed since he had to get up from his nap to keep from getting burned. Sigh. Fortunately, the coffee people were forgiving and I got another cup.

Once the gates were opened we got busy! We answered many questions about Guide Dogs and raising puppies. One couple brought their adopted retired Guide Dog and he became the petting dog. This was nice for everyone. There were so many people that I decided not to let anyone pet Clark, otherwise, the black on his fur might have been rubbed off. There is nothing quite so sad as a black Lab who has rubbed off spaces in his black fur.

Of course, people were impressed with how well behaved Clark was. There were three Guide Dogs at our table and all were so well behaved. I think it amazed the passersby and encouraged the puppy raisers.

It was a windy evening at Safeco Field and we could feel the wind inside the concourse. It was so windy, that Chicago got jealous! At some point, Miss Patty helped Clark and I get to the relieving area that had set up for the dogs - it was quite the trek: we were on the 100 level and the relieving area was on the 300 level. The wind was so strong, that it almost blew my name tag off. I managed to rescue the name tag, however, I didn’t manage to rescue my hat.

I discovered that my hat was missing when some friends stopped by later during the game to say hello. I went to show them my hat... and no hat! My hat, my very nice hat made of fine wool felt was gone!

We began a frantic search. It wasn’t near my back pack. It wasn’t at the Starbuck’s and Miss Patty couldn’t remember seeing me with it. In fact, no one could remember if I had it or not! My hat was gone! And, it was raining! I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach and wondered how I could tell Valerie it was gone. She had gotten me my very nice hat for Christmas a few years back. Oh no!

We made our way home from the game, and I dreaded telling Valerie my hat was gone. Thankfully, Valerie wasn’t home yet. I breathed a sigh of relief and went to get a leash to take our pet dog out to do her business. I opened the closet where the dog stuff is kept and right there on its hook was my hat! My very nice hat made of fine wool felt, a very nice hat indeed, was not lost! I had not even taken it to the ball park! Yeah! A Mariner's win and a found hat. How's that for a happy ending?

Grand Champion, black Lab Pima

By puppy raiser Colette Worcester

I just want to tell you about my career change dog who won the title of Grand Champion in a recent obedience competition!

Colette Worcester and Pima
While guiding just wasn’t for her, 5 year-old career changed black lab, Pima, has found enjoyment in pursuing 4-H with me. I am 16 years old and this was our first year doing the dog project together. At our county fair last month she won Grand Champion; we qualified for state competition in both Obedience and Rally. On August 29, at the Colorado State Fair, Pima and I placed second in our Rally class (out of nearly 40 exhibitors), and first in our Obedience class (out of nearly 20 exhibitors). Pima also received Grand Champion for the overall high score in the sub-novice obedience division!

Pima was the first puppy I raised for GDB and when she was career changed we took her back as a pet. She is eager to please and enthusiastic about training (with treats, of course!). In addition to her 4-H duties, she also enjoys helping me continue to raise Guide Dog puppies. Currently, Pima is aiding with my fourth puppy, a yellow lab named Petunia. Petunia certainly has a lovely role model!

Everyone enjoys Pima. Several younger 4-H members say that Pima is their favorite dog and each think that they are Pima’s favorite person. I guess Pima loves everyone equally, so it all works out. Thank you for such wonderful dogs!