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!

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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


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.