Friday, July 29, 2011

What's Goin' On

Seems like Guide Dogs and Guide Dog puppies (like little Lab Kirkland) are making the scene everywhere these days! Here's just a taste of what's goin' on this summer:

yellow Lab puppy Kirkland being petted by school children

Kirkland's San Diego club also visited visually impaired children.

Music major Chenier Derrick with his yellow Lab guide Galen graduated California State University at Fresno.

Chenier Derrick and yellow Lab Galen

The lovely ladies of the Portland Rose Festival Court attended a June graduation at our Oregon campus.

GDB's Colorado Alumni Chapter, area puppy raisers and their dogs and puppies enjoyed a reunion in July.

Emily Simone and Colorado Alumni Chapter

What are you up to this summer?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Experience of a Lifetime

Miranda in cap and gown with yellow Lab puppy
by Miranda Robertson

Only 48 hours after I graduated from high school, I arrived at the GDB Oregon campus with rising anticipation. Although I am a puppy sitter and Guide Dog enthusiast in my home club, I had more curiosity than knowledge as to what I would actually be doing during my two-week Kennel Department internship. Yet here I was, filled with excitement, confident that whatever I found myself doing, I would enjoy it thoroughly.

For those interested in applying for an internship, I am obligated to first warn you of its less glamorous aspects. There is poop. In fact, it becomes astounding the range and variety of feces, so much so that there is a helpful numeric scale of one through seven to help you categorize it. There is also dog hair -- in drains and filters and gutters -- all of which need to be cleaned out. And, last but not least, there is concrete. For me, this meant going home with throbbing feet regularly during my first week. But, while the unpleasant elements are largely predictable, the joys were more often unexpected.

An average day as a GDB intern soon took on a regular tempo. Cleaning, feeding, and vet check schedules were absolute, but in the lulls between punctual appointments there was plenty of time for pleasant, even mundane, dog care. To be honest, there was a lot of puppy cuddling to do. Basically, the job of a Kennel Department intern is to shadow a canine welfare technician or CWT, which means being at the service of trainers, veterinarians and volunteers. Communication is important, but a willingness to drop everything and go help someone else is irreplaceable. This unpredictable agenda soon became one of my favorite aspects of my internship. At a moment’s notice, I could be running dogs to the clinic for eye checks, assisting trainers, evaluating how puppies take food, or best of all, learning to work a guide.

Miranda under blindfold with Juno

In the last few days of my internship, I found myself in downtown Gresham, blindfolded, and learning first to command a dummy-dog, affectionately named Juno, before moving on to the real thing: a Guide Dog named Reva.

Miranda harnessing a yellow Lab

After alternately cuing and awkwardly praising a piece of rolled up carpet, I advanced to gliding down the street after Reva as she weaved through sidewalk obstacles and took me across busy streets. It was exhilarating!

Miranda test driving a yellow Lab with instructor nearby

This post would not be complete without sincerely thanking all the staff and GDB for welcoming, training and encouraging me so generously. I hope to return soon as a proper CWT for more working, learning and laughs.

Up curb stop for Miranda and yellow Lab guide as instructor looks on

I had a wonderful time and my puppy club --canine and human members alike -- are also enriched by my new knowledge. Special thanks must go out to Nancy Denier, the trainer I stayed with for two weeks, for her hospitality and humor. Thanks again for making my time at GDB so much fun and so fascinating.

yellow Lab guide stops at up curb and gazes at Miranda

Monday, July 18, 2011

Congratulations to Our Puppy Raising Youth Scholarship Winners!

Annually, Guide Dogs for the Blind awards scholarships to puppy raisers in their senior year of high school. This year, 19 raisers submitted applications, all of whom have outstanding scholastic achievements and community service experience within Guide Dogs and their communities.

For 2011, we were pleased to award four $1,000 scholarships totaling $4,000. Congratulations to our winners:

Elizabeth Kaufman with yellow Lab puppy at beach
Elizabeth Kaufmann
Elizabeth, a Southern California native, has been raising Guide Dogs since she was 9 years old. She has raised four puppies as well as puppy sat countless others. Throughout her years of service to GDB, Elizabeth has earned the 4-H Golden Clover Ironstone Concours Service Dog Scholarship as well as the Presidential Gold and Lifetime Service Awards. She has served as treasurer, vice president, and president of her puppy raising club. In addition Elizabeth was able to combine her passion for medicine and service to others when she was selected for the two-week, 80-hour internship in the GDB California Campus Veterinary Department. She came home with a new proficiency and the understanding that the impact her work will have on enhancing the independence of people who are blind.

Elizabeth balanced her lifestyle of raising Guide Dogs with a rigorous academic schedule. She participated in California Scholarship Federation, National Honor Society, was an officer in Mu Alpha Theta, and was part of both the Health and Medical Occupations Academy and SOCSA (South Orange County School of the Arts) during her time at Dana Hills High School. She graduated in June as a valedictorian with AP Honors with Distinction. Elizabeth will be attending UCLA to pursue a career in medicine.

Kayla Hufford with yellow Lab puppy
Kayla Hufford
Kayla, of Newport Beach, California, started raising puppies when she was 11 years old. Over the past six years, she has raised 5 puppies with her 4-H Paws for Independence Puppy Raising Club. Two of her dogs have become breeders, two are guides and her last puppy was recently career changed.

Kayla has taken on many positions in her puppy-raising club, including: hospitality, secretary, treasurer, vice president, president, and is currently a co-president of her club. Kayla is a part of the National Honor Society and the Invisible Children Club at her school, as well as an Athletic Council Representative for Girls’ Track and Field. Kayla writes letters and sends care packages to soldiers that are in Iraq and Afghanistan, has helped teach disabled kids to ride horses, and spends her free time riding horses and playing with her pet dog. Over the summer of 2010, Kayla was selected to be an intern in the Veterinary Clinic at the Guide Dog campus in San Rafael for two weeks and got to spend her time helping out in the clinic and with all of the dogs.

Kayla will be attending Washington State University in the fall and will major in animal science, with the plan to become a veterinarian. She also plans to continue volunteering with GDB after she graduates.

Taelor Michehl with black Lab puppy
Taelor Michehl
Taelor, of Sacramento, California, was 8 when she decided she wanted to raise a puppy, though her parents said she had to wait until she was 12. At 12, she began attending the weekly meetings of a puppy club in her area and she was hooked. Over the last six years, Taelor has raised five dogs, started a sixth, and is currently a puppy-sitter, providing “puppy boot camp” for the dogs in her club as she prepares to attend college in the fall.

As a puppy raiser, Taelor participated as a junior leader in her club, organizing events, leading meetings, and sending out weekly emails informing the club of outings as well as including weekly training tips. She was also able to talk frequently about Guide Dogs for the Blind and her puppy raising experience through her participation in competitive speech and debate, and interviews with local news stations.

Taelor has participated in a national speech and debate league, competing at the national level; AWANA ministries, earning her Citation Award; and community service, making heart shaped pillows and blankets for the cardiac patients and premature babies of her local hospitals.

This fall, Taelor will be attending William Jessup University as a freshman, majoring in psychology and music, with a minor in Bible studies and theology with plans to eventually receive her Certificate in Guide Dog Mobility from San Francisco State University.

Devin San Jose with two yellow Lab puppies
Devin San Jose
Devin, of Alameda County, California, is currently raising her sixth puppy. Raising puppies has reinforced her passion to serve others. In addition to puppy raising Devin had the opportunity to serve as an intern on the GDB California campus last summer. She was able to narrow her focus of potential careers to working with physically disabled people.

Devin has been privileged to serve as a team member and leader on a Mexico Mission Team for four years and is currently in Malawi, Africa as part of a mission team helping to establish micro-businesses in impoverished areas. She worked as a volunteer on a campaign for a U.S. Representative through Generation Joshua. She was a member of Know Me Service Club and participated for three years in the Homeland Security Institute Leadership Camp sponsored by Sandia National Labs.

As a home-schooled student, Devin was able to take college courses and earn college credits while completing her high school career with 4.69 GPA. Devin plans to spend a year playing soccer at Las Positas College before transferring to San Diego Christian College where she will major in kinesiology.

Honorable Mentions
Alyssa Gagnon
Chelse Bulthuis
Russell Bryan

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Let Us Be Your Guide

black Lab GDB puppy beside a stack of books in a library

by Liz Montgomery, inspired by Jacinda

“Let us be your guide… to the social sciences,” reads the poster at the entrance to the Social Science section of the Brigham Young University (BYU) Library. The poster was made possible by the one and only—and might I add, the adorable— Jacinda.

Jacinda is my fourth Guide Dog puppy-in-training, and the first I’ve trained by myself. I raised the other three (Dodger, Mayfield, and Unitas) with the help of my family, beginning when I was 12 years old. I took a break in high school because my life became too busy, but when I came out to BYU, I decided to start again. I figured, “Well, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be busy all my life. Why not have a pup by my side through it all?” I puppy-sat my freshman year and then got Jacinda as a transfer (from another raiser family) in August 2010.
And so our adventure began. She went everywhere with me: to classes, church, on errands, you name it. And when I got a job in the library in January, she went there with me, too. (I’m pretty sure she’s spent more time in the library than the majority of the student body.)

It felt so good to have a dog with me all the time, even if she wasn’t always the easiest pup. One of the hardest things for me was learning to deal with the social implications of having a dog by my side. It was difficult for me to continue to be enthusiastic about answering the same set of seven or so questions for the umpteenth time, and I didn’t like being seen as merely a “dog trainer” when there was so much more to me. But I’ve worked through those issues, and now I see Jacinda as an excuse to interact with others and hopefully brighten their day.

When I got Jacinda, I didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with her during the ensuing months. Because the responsibilities with my previous three dogs were shared among my family members, I didn’t spend as much time with those pups as I did with Jacinda, who is completely my responsibility. I’ve had her for 9.5 months, somewhere around 27 days a month (calculating in puppy-trading), and roughly 16 waking hours a day. If you do the math, that’s 4,104 hours she and I have spent together. I’m pretty sure you’d fall in love with a pet rock having spent that much time with it, let alone a spunky, super cute black Lab.

Not only do I value the bond that we share, but I feel blessed for the things I have learned from training her, the most important of which is how to treat others. Since Jacinda apparently had quite a wild youth, I felt as though she had many negative judgments passed on to her, which I found hard not to take personally. I felt:(1) you can’t disapprove of my girl without at least in part disapproving of me and (2) if you knew her like I do, I know you’d love her. I know everything there is to know about that dog: I know her personality; I know her strengths and weaknesses. I know her self-control tactics and how hard she tries, and most importantly, I know her potential. Through that experience, I've come to the conclusion that to know someone is to love them, and it has made me want to get to know others more and judge them less. Jacinda is far from perfect, but I love her all the same, and she has made me want to love others all the same as well.

Well, needless to say, Jacinda will be missed come August; giving her up will probably be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And like many other raisers can attest, the only way I will be able to get through it is by thinking about the difference she is going to make in the world as she does exactly what she is meant to do. And if all goes well, some very lucky person is going to be getting an incredibly beautiful pair of brown eyes. And trust me—those eyes see everything.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Sully and Lorrie Sullenberger with yellow Lab pup
Sully and Lorrie Sullenberger share their love of dogs and support for GDB.

National Public Radio Interview: School Trains the Blind on Life with a Guide Dog

Good Dog Magazine: The Dog Behind. Chesley Sullenberger interview

9-11 Canine Hero Dies: Roselle

Gift of Sight has Four Legs

Incredible Enumclaw Woman Sets Her Sights High

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hot Dogs!

three yellow Labs decked out in 4th of July scarves and sunshades

Oregon Labs Dakota, Desma and Culver are ready for the 4th of July weekend festivities to begin.

How about you? How are you going to celebrate your independence?