Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Golden Girl in the Spotlight

Betty White with a GDB puppy
Betty White, Golden Girl and longtime friend of GDB, will be the recipient of the Life Achievement Award at this year’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. Betty is Chair of the Norah Hamilton Straus Donor Circle for GDB’s major donors and has been a major donor herself for decades. In addition, she is a tireless advocate for animal rights.

The show will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Saturday, January 23 at 8:00 pm (7:00 central). The websites for both channels are listed below for additional information.

F Litter Update: Flute's Life as a Guide Dog

Black Lab guide Flute
Hello to all my mates of the F litter! My life these past three months has been very full of adventure!

In November, I graduated with my person, Nyla, and moved to a small town in northern Arizona. It sounds really hot, but since we are in the mountains, we actually got snow this morning!! The week after we graduated, we went to a wedding in Phoenix, and Nyla depended on me to help her around through the crowd. It was hard to find room for both of us, but it felt good to be doing what I have been trained to do. Nyla appreciated the help, and since it was her grandson that got married, we even wound up in a couple of the pictures. We also visited the "Pro Bass" shop, but it was kind of scarry, with all the big stuffed animals around. I don't care if it's stuffed or not, Nyla does NOT need to be in the same room as a bear, and neither do I! Then, Nyla's son had kidney surgery, and we got to visit Phoenix again. The hospital staff were very friendly, and found comfortable places for us to hang out during the procedure. We are all grateful that it seems to be working out for him!

In the meantime, I have been guiding Nyla regularly the three miles to her physical therapist, and the mile to the grocery store. I also help her around the Walmart and other stores in the "big city" an hour away. It is fun to be out doing my job.

I have a playmate, Milly, who is a chocolate lab, and lives with Nyla's grandkids. She's only a year old, and when we get together, we can both pretend to be puppies again, even though I am a WORKING dog. She only WISHES she were so important!

Nyla really appreciates all the wonderful people who helped us to get together, and so do I!


From the Pros: Dogs in the Rain!

Here's some handy tips for dealing with your pet dog during this rainy season, from Pat Cook, GDB's Canine Resources Manager.

Girl in the rain with her pet dog
Our dogs don’t seem to mind the wet season and of course, they still need their exercise. But dealing with muddy paws (and even tummies depending on the size of your dog!) can be a chore. To prevent dirty paw prints all over your home try these tips:
  • Use lots of treats teach your dog to accept having his feet and underside rubbed with a towel. Do this when he is relaxed and practice several times per day at first. Some people like to do this as the dog is on a stand/stay, but some prefer to teach the dog to roll over for easy access to his belly and paws.
  • Always make your dog wait at the doorway for a release command before going in or out. This is good practice anyway and will prevent him from rushing in when he’s wet and dirty
  • Have a towel handy at the door, and have a mat or towel to send him to, placed on the porch or just inside the door. Reward him for waiting there; he’ll soon get the idea.
Practice these behaviors in training sessions before you need them so that when you do need to towel down your dog, he will be comfortable with the procedure. Consistency is important, so even in dry summer months have him wait for permission to cross the threshold and occasionally pretend to towel him at his designated spot. He’ll enjoy the attention and save you extra housework next time it pours!

Breeders Digest, 10.1.09-11.31.09

A litter of black Lab puppiesHere's all of our new arrivals from October 1, 2009 through November 31, 2009. To see photos of these litters, please visit GDB's Flickr site, Littermate Photos.

Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers
  • 11/3/09 Dutch x Dale – 4 males, 3 females
  • 11/6/09 Jenkins x Violetta – 2 males
  • 11/7/09 Jay x Saga – 2 males, 2 females
  • 11/8/09 Cabby x Robin – 2 males, 5 females
  • 11/8/09 Damon x Salina – 4 males, 3 females
  • 11/11/09 Dylan x Gialina – 5 male, 4 female
  • 11/14/09 Kentucky x Lani – 3 males, 3 females
  • 11/22/09 Neo x Lania – 4 males, 2 females
  • 11/24/09 Dutch x Gracie – 6 males, 1 females
  • 11/28/09 Bingham x Samosa – 4 males, 2 females

New Breeders

Labrador Retrievers
  • Dorena – raised in OR
  • Nell – raised in UT
  • Noleta – raised in CO

Bower Saves the Day

Contributed by Kristeen Hughes

I returned home with my new dog, Mendle, on November 8 and this is s piece I wrote after our first attempt at an outing in our neighborhood.

Kristeen and Mendle
Well, I'm one of the only people I know who could've done what I did today. I've got this new dog and it's his first full day in his new home and neighborhood so I really want to impress him with his first walk. I've got it all planned and I'm gonna click him and treat him and do everything right, at least today. So I make my preparations to leave. I've got the clicker; I've got the bait bag; I've got the fanny pack, in which I carry these items and other things; I've got my GPS receiver; and, wonder of wonders, I remembered to get the dog. It wouldn't be much of a first walk for him if I took it while he waited at home, but it would be something I might attempt.

The bait bag has this belt clip on the back of it, which I thought, mistakenly, would be secure if fastened to my fanny pack belt. I did this and when all was ready, Mendle and I strode forth into Monday afternoon.

Mendle was doing very well, considering everything was a first for him and I don't know why, but I felt so happy and surprised that he was walking just like he had during training in California. We walked up to a major intersection very near our house that we have to cross in order to do much of anything else. I wanted to work on targeting the light pole at one of the intersections. I was so eager for success; we'd begun targeting light poles in training and he was great. He was finding specific poles every time. I put the clicker around my wrist, I opened my fanny pack so I could reach inside and flip open the bait bag to get the kibble, I couldn't be more anticipatory. I walked up to the pole and said "pole" then touched it. Mendle immediately touched my hand with his nose and I clicked that clicker with great pride. I told him he was a good boy and reached into my fanny pack - empty! I didn't believe my fingers, so I continued to hunt around this small and obviously empty compartment looking for the bag. I continued to try and instill the fact into Mendle that he was a good boy and had done a good thing. The cardinal rule of clicker training had however been broken. I had clicked without treating. I felt heartsick and was certain that all the training we had done together was wiped away with one click and a non-existent kibble.

Dispirited, I trudged home with Mendle. He did very well and wagged and kissed and did all the Mendle things I have, in a very short time, come to love. I, however, was greatly disturbed by the fact that not only had I failed this first walk, I now had no bait bag now. I had no idea where it had fallen off my belt, but the fact remained, it was gone. I couldn't seem to get past the feeling that I'd made a total mess of this day and this wonderful dog. If my instructors could see me now, I would be soundly and harshly chastised.

Once home and settled, I told my housemate Lynne about my experience and she was sympathetic. I also called and lamented to my significant other, Terrie. She said she was on her way home with one of our neighbors, and that he would be happy to look around the area where we had been walking and see if he could spot it. I didn't know what to tell her it would look like so I called GDB to get a visual description of this infamous bag. I spoke with Beth in graduate services who had to go to her car in order to look at one, so she put me on hold.

During this same time, unbeknownst to me, Lynne had decided to take my retired guide, Bower, outside for a walk. While I was waiting on hold, Lynne and Bower burst into the house, and she was singing something about being a hero and saving the day. Just as Beth returned to the line and started telling me about the bag, Lynne and Bower presented me with my beloved bait bag! I was ecstatic - I didn't hear a word that Beth was saying! Not only had my bag been returned to me, but my Bower boy had gone out there and sniffed his way right to it. If it comes to finding food, a lab is what you want doing the searching. He seemed quite happy with himself and, of course, had to have some of the precious kibble in that bag for that one. He may be retired, but he can still do a few neat tricks now and again.

Beth, who was still on the phone with me, was quite pleased with this story. She laughed and said it was priceless. Needless to say, I will find a new place for the bait bag. I don't want to repeat the click-no-treat exercise any time soon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

GDB Career Change Dog Deployed to Haiti

Black Lab Cadillac
We are proud to report that one of GDB's career change dogs, black Lab Cadillac, has been deployed to Haiti to assist with rescue efforts amid the earthquake's rubble. Cadillac and his handler, Jasmine Segura, are one of six Canine Disaster Search Teams trained by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF). The teams were deployed as part of Los Angeles County’s California Task Force 2. Good luck Cadillac and Jasmine - you're in our thoughts!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Aziza’s Snow Day

by GDB Alumna Liz Halperin

12/29/2009, Portland, Oregon. We headed out early in the afternoon. I knew it would be dark when we arrived and rain had been predicted, so I was dressed for warmth and had my large flashing bike lights. I dressed my 43-pound black Lab Aziza in her bright yellow raincoat with the reflector strips and she always has two smaller flashing bike lights attached to her harness handle.

At two, the snow began to fall and stick. We headed out for the streetcar, which was only running intermittently. Zee was desperate to relieve, but everything looked different to her, so it took two trips before shed relax and go. But it was done, so at least I didn't have to worry about that! By then it was her usual dinner time. Ha. The streetcar finally came about 40 minutes later, and despite the NYC-style pile-on, everyone made sure we got on first with a seat in the disabled section.

Once off the street car, I thought about taking a bus to get to our next bus, but decided we both needed to take a breather from the crowds. Aziza was ready to walk, so we did -- about eight blocks. Slowly and carefully.
She got very excited when she recognized our usual stop; led me right to the pole and got a reward kibble for perfect targeting.

Amazingly, our bus came in only 10 minutes, but it was full with sign saying "Drop Off Only." Groans from the people waiting. But I went to curb edge and waved a lot. The bus stopped and let us on and then left. Wow. We got a seat. Zee was again incredibly patient through it all. I fed her kibbles periodically -- "appetizers" since dinner was late and it was a stressful situation.

When we finally got off at usual corner, I stopped and let her get oriented in snow; everything looked different. I could tell when she figured it out because her tail began to wag and she leaned into the harness waiting for a command. "Aziza, forward! Let's go HOME!" Off we went, she proudly guided me the last three blocks.

We got home, hours late for her dinner, but I decided that had to wait. She was ready to jump out of her skin after being so self-contained for several hours following regular harness work. We came in and I exchanged her "uniform" for the 50-foot leash. She was quivering with excitement as we went out front so she could run in the fresh snow. She raced back and forth and all around, sheer joy and stress release. Didn't slow, just raced and raced like a wild girl, stopping only to relieve herself. I threw her some snowballs when she started to slow down. I loved watching her both burn off the containment time and have such fun.

When we finally came back in, I dried her off and Dremeled her toe nails since they were soft. At last DINNER with extra 1/4 cup. She plopped herself on her new poofbed, snuggled down in it and that was that. What a good girl!

Aziz curled up on her bed