Monday, July 26, 2010

Opening Doors

Contributed by Megan Miller

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

Since I received Pasta from GDB in January 2008, my life has not been the same. She has expanded my world in so many ways I never dreamed possible. The confidence she gives me is overwhelming, and she never ceases to amaze me with the things she does. From the very first time she took me back to the dorms when I was lost, without me giving her any direction other than to say “Let’s go home,” I knew she was special and that we’d have a long, amazing partnership. Now, we have entered a new, exciting chapter of our lives together.
Almost two months ago, I moved out of the dorms and into my very first apartment. I was excited and nervous to be on my own, but I was so glad Pasta would be sharing the experience with me. With her, I’m never alone. Our neighbors here are great, and they all love Pasta, of course. Who wouldn’t love Pasta? One of my neighbors even taught us how to walk to the vet which is three and a half blocks away and pointed out a pet store next door, both of which we have traveled to independently since.
A little over a week after moving into our new apartment, we got an addition to the family. I adopted a then 10-month old, one-eyed kitten named Tofu, and he and Pasta have become fast friends. Tofu greets Pasta and I every day when we return from work, and Pasta happily wags her tail at him. They have even slept together. Pasta has been a great big sister to him.
Pasta and Tofu
Pasta and I have gone to many places independently, something I would have never felt comfortable doing with just a cane. Every day, we walk a little over five blocks to the bus stop and go to campus where I work and go to school. I never rode the bus alone before I got Pasta. She always gets me there safely, crosses the streets with ease, and she has markedly improved on dog distractions.
Besides walking to the bus, we have also walked to other places. In addition to my neighbor helping us, some friends walked around with us, and our field rep came out and showed us around the area, too. So far, Pasta and I have gone to five different places by ourselves, including my first time ever independently grocery shopping!
One day, I needed to go to the bank near my apartment after work. To make sure I got there on time, I took the local paratransit there. However, I decided to walk back to my apartment when I was finished. I had never been to this bank before, but knew what direction it was from my apartment. With my GPS and Pasta, we walked the mile plus back home. At least half of it, I’d say, was completely unchartered territory for us, but Pasta handled it like the pro she is, cruising across complicated intersections as if we’d been there every day. It was a very liberating journey.
Since, we have walked with my boyfriend, who is also blind, to a café my field rep showed me and a nearby Thai restaurant I had only heard about, as well. We didn’t take the GPS with us to the Thai restaurant, just looked up where it was, and off we went. Once we got in, we got asked about Pasta, but once I pleasantly explained she was my guide-dog and was allowed everywhere I was since I couldn’t see, things were fine, and we were seated.
Megan and Pasta with Megan's boyfriend
I always knew Pasta was great and that my life would be remarkably better because of her, but the last two months have even further solidified this in my mind. The freedom, independence and confidence I feel because of her are beyond words, and I don’t feel I have even fully captured it here. So thank you GDB, and thank you puppy-raisers, for providing us with such amazing animals. We can never really thank you for what you have given us with these dogs, not just the ability to “see” the world but the honor of always having a best friend with whom to share our experiences.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There's Chocolate in the Kennels!

Submitted by Reproductive Coordinator Heather Power and Breeding Program Manager Marina Hall Phillips

GDB's two chocolate-coated pups
Talk about a sweet phone call: "There's chocolate in the whelping kennel!" announced a member of our Kennel staff. Thinking that some generous soul had stopped by with a box of See’s Candies, our initial sugar thrill turned to genuine excitement and curiosity when it became clear that the chocolate in question was referring to the coat color of some new puppies!

A maiden brood, black Lab Arizona, delivered a litter sired by a relatively new stud dog, yellow Lab Forte, on June 8. She brought a healthy litter of seven puppies into the world: five are black and two are chocolate. It is rare to see chocolate-colored dogs in GDB's colony - the last time a chocolate-colored pup was born to yellow or black Lab parents was in 1994. Prior to that, we did have some chocolate puppies produced by chocolate parents. The last active chocolate-colored breeding stock dog was a brood named Darlin, who was born in 1978. In addition, GDB has included chocolate-colored Labradors in our program obtained from outside sources through the years. To date we have had 51 chocolate dogs in our program, 13 of which went on to become working guides or breeder dogs.

The Forte x Arizona litter in the whelping kennel
As you know, Guide Dogs’ directive is to make breeding selections based on the highest potential that the resulting offspring will succeed as working Guide Dogs. GDB has developed a colony that supports our ability to meet our client demand with specifically selected combinations of black and yellow Labradors (and, if you've seen our colony, you know that the variations among the "yellow" Labs are still pretty vast!).

So how did these two chocolate treats come to be? Here's a quick and simplified lesson in genetics that should shed a little light on the subject:

There are spots on the canine genes called “loci” (or “locus” for a single spot) that deal with different coat colors. There are thousands of these loci, and it gets pretty complicated really quickly. Fortunately for us, in Labradors we really only need to focus on two loci to determine whether a dog will be black, chocolate, or yellow: B and E.

B comes in two varieties: black and brown. Black (B) is dominant, brown (b) is recessive, and the color applies not only to the dog’s fur, but to some extent all of the areas of pigment we see: nose, lips, foot pads, and around the eyes. If the dog in question has even one copy of the dominant (B) gene, s/he will have a black coat and black nose, etc. Only if the dog has two copies of the recessive gene (b) will their coat and nose look brown.

One of the chocolate pups with a black littermate
The Forte x Arizona litter's two chocolate pups are b/b on that locus. Their black littermates, however, are either B/B or B/b.

So where do yellow Labradors fit in? For them, we need to go to a different locus: E, which works a little differently. In recessive form (e), it suppresses or prevents the coat color of the B locus from expressing itself. In other words, the black or chocolate color won’t show up in the fur if the dog is carrying e/e. Instead, their coats will be yellow. Recessive (e) doesn’t remove the other areas of pigment however – they should have black noses, or at least a black rim around their noses, if they have B/B or B/b on that first locus. If they have b/b on that first locus, then those other areas of pigment will be liver colored. Couple that with e/e for recessive yellow coat color and we see a yellow coated dog with liver b/b pigment.

In a way, the coat colors are like a ladder. The first rung (or loci) tells you if the dog is black or brown, then the 2nd rung takes that black or brown dog and if double recessive, turns its fur yellow.

Phew! That's your science lesson for the day.

As for this Forte x Arizona litter, we are employing color genotype testing to identify which puppies in this and future litters carry the color genes for chocolate. The test is a simple, non-invasive DNA cheek swab. We will use this information to guide mate selection for color in the future. It's likely that we will not intentionally mate chocolate color carriers with yellow dogs who also carry for chocolate, since our focus is on black and yellow Labs. So while it is unlikely, it is certainly possible that we may see more chocolate-coated Labs in the future (if mate selection factors indicate that an ideal match would be between two parents carrying for the chocolate color). If so, we will embrace the little chocolate kisses with open arms, just as we've done with these two newest pups. The pups are thriving and will enter their puppy raising homes in just a few weeks. We're hoping we have some chocolate Lab Guide Dogs in our future!

The Forte x Arizona litter in the whelping kennel

Top Pet Poisons

With various dangers lurking in corners and cabinets, the home can be a minefield of poisons for our pets. In 2009, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Ill., handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products. Don’t leave it up to Fido or Fluffy to keep themselves safe. Below is a list of the top pet poisons that affected our furry friends in 2009, courtesy of the ASPCA.

Human Medications
For several years, human medications have been number one on the ASPCA’s list of common hazards, and 2009 was no exception. Last year, the ASPCA managed 45,816 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so it’s essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.

People Food
People food like grapes, raisins, avocado and products containing xylitol, like gum, can seriously disable our furry friends, and accounted for more than 17,453 cases in 2009. One of the worst offenders — chocolate — contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures.

Common houseplants were the subject of 7,858 calls to APCC in 2009. Varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are often found in homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.

Last year, the ASPCA received 6,639 calls about pets who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons. Many baits used to attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to pets as well. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets including bleeding, seizures or kidney damage.

Household Cleaners
Everybody knows that household cleaning supplies can be toxic to adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets from common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Last year, the ASPCA received 4,143 calls related to household cleaners. These products, when inhaled by our furry friends, can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.

Heavy Metals
It’s not too much loud music that constitutes our next pet poison offender. Instead, it’s heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury, which accounted for 3,304 cases of pet poisonings in 2009. Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded.

Garden Products
It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer and garden products can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Last year, the ASPCA fielded 2,329 calls related to fertilizer exposure, which can cause severe gastric upset and possibly gastrointestinal obstruction. In addition, snail bait is also a big hazard; make sure to keep your pets clear of areas where snail bait has been applied.

Chemical Hazards
In 2009, the ASPCA handled approximately 2,175 cases of pet exposure to chemical hazards. A category on the rise, chemical hazards—found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals—form a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.

Prevention is really key to avoiding accidental exposure, but if you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

We've Got Mail: Proud Puppy Raiser

Dear Guide Dogs -

I would like to submit a heartwarming story about the Guide Dog I raised. Doris was my first Guide Dog puppy and needless to say, I was somewhat apprehensive on starting this new venture since I wasn't sure I would do everything right to make her successful in becoming a guide. I was really blessed to have received such a wonderful puppy and she always made us so proud of her accomplishments. She breezed through the formal training program and graduated from the California campus on June 19, 2010. She was presented to Rebecca Missig of New Orleans, La., who fell in love with her upon their first meeting. (Rebecca and Doris are pictured, right.)

I received the following message from Rebecca regarding an encounter she and Doris had at a store. It really shows how these dogs not only touch the lives of their partners, but other people who have lost their sight and have not yet been introduced to Guide Dogs for the Blind. Rebecca writes:

"Doris made a little girl very happy today. My mother and I were shopping and a woman came up to ask if she could let her granddaughter pet Doris. I started with the initial "she is in harness" schpiel I have gotten used to saying at this point. The woman went on to tell me that her granddaughter was totally blind and 4 years old. Her parents have already started talking to her about getting a guide dog when she gets older. I couldn't help it and I took Doris's harness off so she could pet her. The little girl was a premature baby and never had sight at all, and just squealed when she was petting Doris. It made me so happy that I was able to make her day like that with Doris. Doris kissed her on the nose. I chatted with her mom and grandmother for a while about Guide Dogs and a few other blindness issues, and then took a picture before we left. I thought you might like to see Doris helping another blind person beside myself."

I am extremely proud of Doris and fortunate that Rebecca sends me updates on a weekly basis. I would say there are a perfect match.

Thank you,

Barbara Edwards

GDB Pups Swoosh In On the Nike Campus

A young girl grooming Lucette, a yellow Lab
For the past few years, our Oregon campus has thoroughly enjoyed a great relationship with the Beaverton-based international headquarters of Nike, Inc. We've had the opportunity to introduce our dogs to the children at the Nike Employee Day Care Center.

Every summer, volunteers and GDB staff spend two mornings at the center, teaching these littlest athletes more about Guide Dogs and what they are able to do for people with visual impairments. Teaching assistants have said that “Guide Dog Day” has become the event looked forward to the most by both the little 3- and 4-year olds, as well as the grown-ups who work with them.

This past week, we went for our annual visit. The kids were taught the proper way to greet a dog (always ask permission before petting), and how they could identify the “special” dogs of GDB by their green jackets or Guide Dog harnesses. The kids all enjoyed learning how to groom Lucette, a yellow lab guide in training (pictured above), and also had the chance to wear a blindfold and experience walking behind “Wheeler” (a padded “dog on wheels” - pictured below). Walking with Wheeler gave the children some insight into what it feels like to completely trust a dog for mobility.

A young boy taking a walk with Wheeler while under blindfold
There is no better way to plant the seeds of knowledge and understanding with these little ones than with our own “little ones” – our Guide Dog pups, who make us friends wherever we go.

Thanks go to our supporters at Nike, and to our wonderful puppy raisers who help us spread the good word about GDB every day. We’re happy as we can be to “Just Do It” with such great friends!

F Litter Update: Flute Sends Regards

We've been following a litter of pups - affectionately called the "F Litter" - from the time they were born. Flute is now a working guide in Arizona; she sent this update to her mom, retired breeder dog Christine.

Mom!! nobody told me how fun life in Arizona's White Mountains would be!!

Black Lab guide Flute
My new companion takes me everywhere with her - even on the boat fishing for trout! It has been an adventure every day. We have a vegetable garden, as well as two flower gardens. We love to sit under the grape arbor in the afternoon. The apple tree bloomed this year, and the blossoms smelled wonderful! (That's a picture of me, amid all the apple tree blossoms!)

It has been raining some lately. I love the rain, but the thunder and lightening make me a bit worried about my human partner.

Everywhere I go, I attract people. For many, I am the first Guide Dog they have seen. I try to be a good ambassador for us all. We have visited every first grade classroom in town, and we have even been requested at schools in other towns nearby. I feel like a real celebrity! My partner and her family are VERY proud of me!

It was so good to hear about all my brothers and sisters of the F litter. I am so happy that everyone has found a home and a job!

Take care! I love you all!!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Puppy Raising Youth Scholarship Winners

Annually, Guide Dogs for the Blind awards scholarships to puppy raisers in their senior year of high school. The scholarships reward outstanding scholastic achievements and community service experience within Guide Dogs and their communities. For 2010, we were pleased to award three $1,000 scholarships. Congratulations to our winners, and good luck in your future academic endeavors!

Trevor Kalkus
Trevor Kalkus
Trevor, of Jefferson County, Colo., was 12 when his older sister, Wendy, got her first Guide Dog puppy. Trevor caught the puppy raising bug as well, and just finished raising his family’s sixth guide dog, Jude. Just as Trevor continued the family’s puppy raising tradition by co-raising their fourth dog with Wendy as she headed to college, his younger sister, Kira, will continue the family's puppy raising legacy by taking the helm as Trevor heads to school.

In the three years that Trevor participated in the Arapahoe County 4H Fair, his Guide Dog presentations won him second place, first place, and Grand Champion respectively. Trevor was also the coordinator of Doggie Tales, a program that arranged for Guide Dog puppies in training to visit a different library every month so that children learning to read would have a friendly, appreciative audience for their new skills.

Although puppy raising is Trevor’s favorite activity, he also participates in theater, band, skiing, tennis, and many other clubs. At D’Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School, where he graduated as salutatorian, he was in the Spanish Honor Society, Tri-M musical service society, and Mu Alpha Theta tutoring. He was also president of the school’s National Honor Society where he organized volunteering and fundraising for the Salvation Army, Project Cure, Operation Christmas Child, Denver Rescue Mission, Bonfils blood drive, and much more.

Next year Trevor will be a freshman at Stanford University. He is very excited and only regrets not being allowed to have a puppy in his dorm room with him.

Margery Magill

Margery, of Sutter County, Calif., has been a member of the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa 4-H Guide Dog Puppy Raisers Club for five years and has raised four puppies. Two graduated as working guides, one is a breeder, and her fourth puppy just returned to GDB for formal training.

In her puppy raising club Margery has held the office of president, secretary and historian, and also co-created a towel/blanket drive for local animal shelters.
In addition to raising Guide Dog puppies, Margery has been actively involved in many leadership and community service organizations. She has been a member of her local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter and served as president, reporter and secretary. Margery has received her Golden State FFA Degree (the highest degree a member can receive in the State of California) and served as an official voting delegate at the National FFA Convention two years in a row. Margery is also an eight-year member of a second 4-H club in her county, serving as club president and secretary, and attended the California Focus 4-H conference as one of the ten Young Civic Leader award recipients. She also participated in the Citizenship Washington Focus 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. and traveled to Japan with the 4-H International Exchange Program. Margery is an 11-year member of Girl Scouts and has received her Bronze and Silver Award for community service. She has also participated in her local Relay for Life program as team captain and traveled to Mexico each year for three years to build houses for impoverished families. Margery also shoots and coaches on a competitive archery team in her area.
In her spare time, Margery owns and manages her own business called "Honey Do Boer Goats." She raises and sells Boer goats as breeding and market animals. Currently Margery has over 20 goats in her herd and has received awards for her business including the Star FFA Regional Agribusiness Award for 2010.

Margery graduated from the Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts as co-salutatorian of her class and will be attending the University of California, Davis, in the fall with a major in International Agriculture Development. 

Robyn Saldino
Robyn Saldino
Robyn is from Ventura County, Calif., and has been raising Guide Dog puppies for as long as she can remember. Her family has raised a total of thirteen puppies, many of which have become breeders or working guides. She loves volunteering for Camp Bloomfield’s Summer Festival each year, and was inspired to do so by her older sister, Sarah, who was a camp counselor there. Robyn is actively involved in raising community awareness about GDB and its programs, and aspires to one day work with youth non-profit community service organizations in order to motivate youth to make a great difference in the world. She has worked with preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school-aged students from all over California, Nevada, and Hawaii to educate them about Guide Dogs.

Robyn was a member of the California Scholarship Federation; the National Honor Society; Students Encouraging Social, Political, and Environmental Action (SESPEA); and the Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) club. In addition, she participated in Marching Band, Concert Band, Choir, and Key Club (serving as president for two years, and lieutenant governor for one year). She was also active in Theatre Team, where she served as secretary, treasurer and publicist, while performing in and directing many shows. Robyn was recently named a Coca-Cola Foundation Scholar, Ventura County STAR Scholar, Rotary Scholar, Cali-Nev-Ha Kiwanis Foundation Scholar, Bank of America Fine Arts Award Winner, and National Hispanic Scholar, all while maintaining a 4.87 GPA.

In addition to school, Robyn has participated actively in gymnastics for 15 years, both as a coach and a competitor; other hobbies include dance, swimming and yoga. She will be attending Sonoma State University, majoring in Theatre with an emphasis on Dance, and minoring in Voice and Public Speaking as an Arminaña University Presidential Scholar. Robyn is excited to be living near GDB's California campus in San Rafael, and hopes to volunteer for Guide Dogs in her spare time.


  • Raising Guide Dogs for the Blind (, June 14, 2010): Feature about puppy raising in the Seattle area.
  • The Life of the Blind (Mayweather Live Show, June 22, 2010): Video segment featuring GDB wheelchair alumna Norine Labitzke.
  • Raising Canine (CSUSB Magazine, June 23, 2010): Highlighting puppy raisers David and Melissa Hudson; Melissa is also a GDB grad. (Pictured: Melissa and David Hudson with Melissa’s Guide Dog, Anya, and puppy in training, Saturna. Courtesy of CSUSB Magazine.)
  • For Cara (The Aspen Times, June 23, 2010): Unveiling of a statue of athlete and GDB alumna, the late Cara Dunne-Yates, at the Base Village of the Snowmass Ski Area
  • Scene and Heard (The Oregonian, June 26, 2010): A recap of GDB's Pinot & Pups Wine Gala
  • On the Move (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, July 4, 2010): Etta Allen named new chairman of the board at GDB.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Two Events in Two Days

The Melting Pot staff pose with a couple of GDB puppies in training
It's been a couple of busy days here at GDB! Volunteers and staff have been getting the word out about our programs, raising awareness and making new friends. First, we had another event in our popular "Dine Out for Dogs" series. The Melting Pot in Larkspur, Calif., donated a portion of the evening's proceeds to GDB - it was a super cheesy and delicious way for folks to come out for a great meal, and show their support at the same time. Above, the restaurant’s staff pose with a couple of GDB puppies in training.

Molly Mahoney holding a yellow Lab puppyNext up, we held our first-ever “Em-Bark-Adero” event in conjunction with Epic Roasthouse in San Francisco. The event was designed to educate the public about GDB by providing training demonstrations and information to guests. Attendees mingled with GDB alumni and puppy raisers, met oodles of dogs and pups, all while enjoying delicious fare provided by Epic Roasthouse. Stellar weather and sweeping views of the Bay Bridge made for quite a fun party! Pictured above is Molly Mahoney holding a yellow Lab puppy; visit our Flickr account to see the entire slideshow from the event at

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Puppies are Coming – to Texas!

By Dave and Beth Adams

Neutron and Melville, two of the puppies being raised in Texas, wearing Lone Star bandanas.

Puppy raiser Kim Hart holding a yellow Lab pup
Who would have guessed that watching the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day 2003 would have any connection to the arrival of six beautiful Labrador retriever puppies in Texas in 2010? In 2003, Guide Dogs for the Blind celebrated its 61st Anniversary by entering a float in the Pasadena Rose Parade. Watching the parade from Mission Viejo, Calif., our family was moved to become puppy raisers. We traveled to Pasadena the following day to view the floats with the intention of talking with GDB representatives. It was there that we talked with a graduate of GDB, who spoke so lovingly about his new Guide Dog and what she meant to him, that the family was hooked.

We were referred to puppy raising leaders Pete and MaryJo Egus and the VIP3 puppy raising club in South Orange County. We attended meetings, studied the manual, puppy sat, and completed all the requirements. By April, we were raising our first pup. We raised three puppies for GDB before a job transfer took us to Texas. Once settled in Texas, we connected with a wonderful group of raisers from another school and raised an additional three puppies.

Puppy raiser Brion Hart with a yellow Lab pup
In Early 2010, we began to consider the possibility of forming a GDB puppy raising group in Texas. The more we talked about it with our puppy raiser friends, the more exciting the prospect became. It seemed a perfect fit that Guide Dogs for the Blind, one of the premier guide dog schools in the world, would expand its puppy raising to the Lone Star state. The State of Texas currently ranks fourth in the number of Guide Dog partnerships provided by GDB. Intrigued by the innovative training and lifetime support that GDB provides for its graduates, Lone Star puppy raisers worked together to develop a proposal to bring puppies to the state as a means to help GDB with its outreach efforts already in place in Texas.

To accomplish the goal of getting puppies to Texas, Lone Star Puppy Raisers took on the responsibility of fundraising to cover all of the costs associated with the puppy raising project. After nearly a year of planning and fundraising, we're thrilled to report that this past week six puppies began the next phase of their training with their feet firmly planted in the Lone Star State!

It is the goal of Lone Star Puppy Raisers to see the potential in each and every puppy, and to support and encourage each puppy and raiser so that they can develop to their fullest potential. Additionally, Lone Star Puppy Raisers are thrilled to be ambassadors for Guide Dogs for the Blind in the State of Texas. We pledge to reach our goals with hard work and integrity, utilizing creativity and partnership.

You can follow the Lone Star Puppy Raisers on their blog:

Pictured from top to bottom:
  • Puppies Neutron and Melville, wearing Lone Star State bandanas
  • Lone Star puppy raiser Kim Hart in the GDB kennel, holding one of the yellow Lab puppies destined for Texas
  • Lone Star puppy raiser Brion Hart in the GDB kennel, holding one of the yellow Lab puppies destined for Texas
  • Lone Star puppy raisers Shari Nederhoff and Lindsey Amos holding their new charges, Neutron and Melville

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


We love getting your photos! This past month, we've received so many great images, it's hard to pick which ones to highlight here. But these are a couple of our favorites. The rest of the submissions can be found at our Flickr site or at our Flickr Group Photo Pool.

Pup-in-training Rocco shares a big grin at a baseball game. Submitted by Erin Austin.

GDB alumna Laura Bratton and her Guide Dog, Jira, receiving their diplomas. Laura writes: "I just graduated from Princeton Theological seminary in May with a Masters of Divinity. I was the first blind person to graduate and Jira was the first Guide Dog on campus. At graduation Jira received a degree too! I am greatful for all GDB has done for Jira and me."

Puppy Pilots puppy raising club on a ferry boat excursion in Victoria, British Columbia. Submitted by ledgerboy1.

Keep those dogs and puppy pics coming!

Colusa: A Guide Dog That Gets Around!

Submitted by Evelyn Burris

Colusa is Evelyn Burris's Guide Dog, and the two of them are quite the world travelers! Whether it's cruising to Alaska or Hawaii, or road-tripping through California, the duo find adventures at every turn. The following is an excerpt from a recap of one such recent adventure, as "written" by Colusa.

Evelyn and Colusa
I have so much to tell! Evelyn and I went to Ft. Lauderdale; our adventure was a trip through the Panama Canal terminating in San Francisco. Now I understand better how big a canal can be! I also learned about continents. I already knew about North America, but when we arrived in Colombia I was on a second continent, South America. And since I have "seen" Russian (a la Sarah Palin) from Alaska, I now only have three more continents to go until I have seen them all!

When we were checking in at Ft. Lauderdale, a man named Greg came up to Evelyn and said he had trained two Guide Dog puppies and asked if he could take me for a walk on the ship. Thank goodness Evelyn said yes because that was the most fun I had on the entire trip. He made me follow Guide Dog behavior, but he made sure I had a good time, too. He lives near San Rafael and I hope we get to see him and his wife sometime soon.

The morning we were docked in Costa Rica, we ordered bananas with breakfast. Imagine how surprised we were to learn they were out of bananas - in one of the banana republics!

While on board, Evelyn and I attempted to attend a writing class. Unfortunately, it was held in a smoke-filled bar so we didn't stay. I was hoping to learn some new techniques!

The last day of the trip was not much fun. We hit very high winds and the ship rocked and creaked. Some big plate glass windows blew out and the noise scared me. I barked at both doors, but no one made it stop, so I hopped up on the bed with Evelyn.

I was glad to sail in under the Golden Gate because it is beautiful and I knew we were almost home.

We've Got Mail: Puppy Raising Love

Dear Guide Dogs -

I received this very nice letter about my Cosgrove. Tom and Cosgrove graduated on October 4, 2008. The Cos is the 8th puppy I have raised for GDB. Cosgrove was my favorite boy to raise and so this letter makes me very proud of what I do.

Brenda Rae

From Tom Heinl, Cosgrove's handler:
My present Guide named Cosgrove is probably one of the top 2 of the 6 guides I have used. I think I can count on one hand the number of times he has missed a curb. He learns new routes very quickly and seems to remember everything. I firmly believe that his puppy raiser, Brenda Rae, has done a masterful job of his upbringing to allow him to be a exceptional guide. He displays good manors at home and in public. He has demonstrated by his actions that he can handle difficult environments both when working and when not. I really think that Guide Dog training begins at the home of the puppy raiser and continues forward through formal training and partnering with a blind person. I would like to thank all puppy raisers and especially Brenda for a job well done.

Retired Guide Enjoys Career #2

By Caitlin Ewing

Retired Guide Alomar
In 2001, I raised Alomar for Guide Dogs. From the day we brought him home, we knew he was destined to be a great Guide Dog. He had a sweet, mellow disposition and an aptitude for work. After an early retirement at the age of 5, Alomar came back to our home and began his second career as a therapy dog. Twice a month, Alomar spends the afternoon at Stanford Hospital sitting with patients on their beds and getting all the belly rubs he can ask for.

I recently sat with a patient before they were going in for major surgery. Alomar sat on the bed with his forehead pressed against the patient's forehead getting his ears rubbed. It was such a simple gesture that created a beautiful moment. When it was time for the patient to to be taken to the operating room, I was told that the patient likely wouldn't have stayed so calm if it wasn't for Alomar's gentle presence.

Not only has Alomar had two very successful careers but he has touched the lives of many people. We look forward to sharing his gifts for many more years to come.

Alomar was featured on the local news for his work as a Therapy Dog at Stanford Hospital; check out the segment (scroll down to the second video on the page).

Living the Dream

Timmy dives into his birthday cake
Living life as a GDB Career Change Dog was like hitting the jackpot for Timmy, a yellow lab who was adopted by the concierge at the Hotel Monaco, a hotel located in the heart of downtown Portland, Ore. He not only gets to enjoy life as a “civilian,” but he now carries the title of “Director of Pet Relations” and is the top Lobby Dog at the most pet-friendly hotel in the area!

On Thursday, June 30, Timmy commemorated his 5th birthday in style at the hotel. The lobby was filled with well-wishers of both the human and canine variety (nary a growl was heard), and the hotel staff went the extra mile to support Guide Dogs for the Blind with their special brand of hospitality. Humans celebrated with great Oregon wines and treats, while the dogs enjoyed Timmy's birthday cake (made out of mashed potatoes and carrots)!

Happy Birthday, Timmy – and our heartfelt thanks go to everyone who made your day an extra special remembrance for all. Getting older isn’t so bad when you’ve got friends like those at the Hotel Monaco.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Breeders Digest, 5.1.10-5.31.10

A baby Golden Retriever puppy
Puppies, puppies and more puppies! Here's all of our latest arrivals from May 2010. See the photos of the all the cute little guys on our Flickr site. We've also added some bonus photos to the April Breeders Digest photo slideshow. Enjoy!

Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers
  • 5/1/10 Denzel x Dorcella – 3 males, 3 females
  • 5/3/10 Piedmont x Trinity – 4 males, 2 females
  • 5/5 Atrus x Marcie – 2 males, 3 females
  • 5/6/10 David x Winter – 2 males, 6 females
  • 5/9/10 Atrus x Gialina – 1 male, 2 females
  • 5/11/10 Flamenco x Georgette – 4 males, 4 females
  • 5/11/10 Norbert x Carmen – 4 males, 4 females
  • 5/11/10 Tiburon x Holland – 3 males, 5 females
  • 5/13/10 Dylan x Rupee – 2 males, 4 females
  • 5/14/10 Simon x Melody – 1 male, 5 females
  • 5/15/10 Forte x Dale – 2 males, 5 females
  • 5/23/10 Jay x Noleta – 3 males, 3 females
  • 5/25/10 Denzel x Ultra – 3 males, 4 females
  • 5/27/10 Norbert x Glee – 1 male, 2 females
Golden Retrievers
  • 5/13/10 Abbott x Kaylee – 3 males, 4 females
  • 5/30/10 Mazel x Pebbles – 2 males, 6 females

New Breeders

Labrador Retrievers
  • Catina – raised in CA