Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tune in to GDB's Support Our Canine Heroes Wine Auction!

A photo of a puppy with a Guide Dog harness in a vineyard
Saturday, October 1st, is GDB’s 9th annual Support Our Canine Heroes Wine Auction in Napa Valley, a fundraising event to support veterinary care for our dogs and pups. It’s going to be quite the affair!

The event features a reception and silent auction, where more than a dozen Napa Valley wineries will be on hand to pour their wines, and five different Napa Valley restaurants will be serving appetizers. Guests will then be served a delicious four-course meal, followed by the highlight of the evening – a live auction, where we have fine wines, vacation packages and some really unique experiences on the block (including tickets to a taping of Dancing with the Stars!)

The event is SOLD OUT, but you can still join in the fun! ToutSuite Social Club will be streaming a show live during the first hour of the event. If you join and log in to their site at 5:00 P.M. PST this Saturday, October 1, you’ll be able to meet some of our special guests, chefs and vintners, and enjoy the festivities from the comfort of your own home. And if you can’t catch the broadcast live, the show will be archived on their website after the fact, so be sure to check it out!

In addition, a crew for the pilot episode of the proposed television show Feast It Forward will be filming at the event as well.

So, be sure to tune in and stay tuned for the results of the auction next week!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Smile Delivery II

Michael Weinberg, 20, above, is starting his junior year at UC Santa Barbara this fall. He and his father, Leland take their GDB career change dog Ruby to visit the patients and staff at the Spinal Injury Unit and Community Living Center at Long Beach Veterans Medical Center (LBVA) each month, bringing smiles to all they meet.

Although Ruby is over 14, she is in good health, though she walks a bit slower now. Leland writes: "When she sees people, she lifts her head, smiles, wags her tail -- we can tell she loves people. We truly believe that Ruby is blessed with longevity and good health and of course she is a blessing from GDB because she continues to serve, especially veterans in need. We hope that she will attend the JDRF Walk with Mazda in November. We always pray and hope that Ruby can continue to perform therapy visits, in particular to the veterans and the LBVA staff who have reacted in such a positive manner to Ruby’s visits."

It's National Guide Dog Month -- time to deliver some smiles by making new friends for GDB!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Smile Delivery

yellow Lab in rose garden

Lira is the career change dog of GDB volunteer Sally Blake. She has a new career -- as a therapy dog. The following is from Sally's blog, which also includes audio:

Lillie went home today. I have watched this very sick little 5-year-old Hispanic beauty live at the hospital for the last couple of months. I have watched hospital staff treat her like one of their own taking her on wagon rides around the ward, teaching her one English word a day (one day, the word was "glamorous" to go with her princess motif) and letting her just hang out at the nurses' station with them for hours. These nurses are angels in my mind and heart.

Imagine this… a little girl sitting cross-legged on the bed attached to a multitude of tubes, petting Lira who is on the bed with her. Her hair done perfectly by her mother: two little shoulder-length pony tails with different colored rubber bands every couple of inches. Whenever she saw Lira she would smile from ear to ear framing chubby cheeks. This smile can only be described as a joyful brightening of our world. A tiny youngster who understandably was cranky some days and a precious little girl who definitely always knew exactly what she wanted.

What a blessing it was to happen to walk in as she and her family were preparing with the hospital staff to go home. What a joy it was to see this kind of happiness shining through every pore of her being.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guide Dog Day in Idaho

Acting CEO Morgan Watkins with Golden Guide Dog Will, Governor Otter and a crowd of GDB alumni, puppy raisers, donors and supporters of GDB and ICBVI
by Michele Davis, GDB Community Relations Officer

Idaho Governor C.O. “Butch” Otter welcomed members of the “GDB Nation” to celebrate and honor Guide Dogs for the Blind by proclaiming September 20 “Guide Dogs for the Blind Day" at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise.

The Governor’s Office was filled with GDB alumni, puppy raisers, donors and supporters – and, of course, our amazing dogs. Governor Otter, a dog-lover himself, thanked all the attendees for their support of GDB. He commended the puppy raisers who are willing to “make the sacrifice of raising those adorable pups so that they can help others”. GDB has puppy clubs in both Boise and Jerome, and Governor Otter was especially grateful for their contributions to local citizens with visual impairments.

Acting GDB CEO Morgan Watkins was honored to accept the official gubernatorial proclamation on GDB's behalf and expressed our commitment to working with the Idaho Commission for the Blind (ICBVI) in spreading the word throughout the State about our life-changing services that are offered free-of-charge.

GDB staffers Sheila Spencer and Deana Allen wowed onlookers with a demonstration of guidework at a reception co-hosted by GDB and ICBVI after the proclamation ceremony in the Governor’s office. Babs, a retired Guide Dog, didn’t miss a single step in showing off the skills she uses to keep her human partners safe and independent.

ICBVI Administrator Angela Jones and her staff will continue to work hand-in-paw with GDB's Idaho-based graduates to help spread the word about our services.

It was a very special day for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and we are so grateful to Governor Otter and his staff for building public awareness for our organization.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Path With a Guide Dog

Larry in rocking chair with his arm around yellow Lab Galleon
by Larry Marcum

Two months ago I retired my first Guide Dog Galleon after more than nine incredible years of him guiding me. Since retiring him I have had to go back to using the white cane, which I rarely used since receiving Galleon in January of 2002. Going back to the cane has been frustrating to say the least, but more than anything I have realized that I again feel like a blind man. That may sound strange, but I had not totally realized over the nine years with Galleon that he took so much stress out of my travels, how much he was truly guiding me, how there must have been so many obstacles that he effortlessly took me around that I did not know were there, that I now find with my cane. Now the tired shoulder muscles, headaches, and hunched back have returned. I now realize that while Galleon guided me I was able to walk standing straight up with confidence and being able to forget, at least during the time that we were walking, about my blindness and really allow my other senses to take in and enjoy our surroundings.

Galleon became such a part of me that I now realize how much we became one - a team. Although I always had my left hand holding a harness handle, it became so natural that I did not feel blind while out in public. Over the years we became so attuned to each other, it got to where I rarely needed to give him commands, he just seemed to know where I wanted to go.

Galleon and I flew over 20,000 miles together. On one trip we flew to Washington D.C., where Galleon guided me to stand at the Lincoln Memorial, which was a lifelong dream of mine. Galleon guided me up the steps of our nation’s Capitol, and to stand at the wrought iron fence surrounding the White House. As Galleon guided me to the Vietnam Memorial Wall, because of my small tunnel of vision, all that I first saw was a wall just a few inches tall. But as he guided further along, the wall was soon looming way over my head, with so many names on it that boggles the mind. Galleon guided me around the World War II Memorial where I was privileged to see our veterans reminisce together about that war. With my limited vision I got to see the never-ending hills of Arlington Cemetery that hold our freedom fighters of past wars.

We traveled together on planes, trains, buses, taxis, and boats. We walked on beaches, trails, cities and parks. He was at my wedding, several funerals, parties, church and meetings. We won awards together, played in the snow, walked in the rain, and sweated in the heat. He has come and sat at my side when I cried, and danced with me in joyous times. For more than 3,000 nights he has been at my bedside all night, every night, never once getting up and wandering until my feet hit the floor in the morning.

My greatest realization about guide dogs is that a guide dog does more than guide; a guide dog helps a person to live their dreams. Thank you, my Galleon for helping me to live so many of my dreams!

Galleon continues to live with my wife Ida and I, enjoying retirement here at our mountain home, and oh, how he will enjoy the company of my new guide in October! You see, because of so many caring, giving and dedicated people associated with Guide Dogs for the Blind, I am blessed to get to return there September 25th to begin the path with my next Guide Dog.

September is National Guide Dog Month! Help make new friends for GDB by sharing this post with your soul mate.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Day at the Beach!

Sherry Downie with yellow Lab Rocco, Cristina Jones with yellow Lab Kingsley, Don Harlin with black Lab Valerie and Sasha Rangel with yellow Lab Rocky along with GDB Instructor Gin Meyer and Training Class Supervisor Adam Waskow

Does your dog like the beach? Ours sure do! It's all part of Guide Dog training...

GDB students and their new canine partners enjoy a day at the beach! Sherry Downie with yellow Lab Rocco, Cristina Jones with yellow Lab Kingsley, Don Harlin with black Lab Valerie and Sasha Rangel with yellow Lab Rocky along with GDB Instructor Gin Meyer and Training Class Supervisor Adam Waskow.

September is National Guide Dog Month! Help us celebrate by making new friends for GDB. Share this post. After all, what are friends for?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

School Days, School Days

Shown in photo: Miranda Framer with yellow Lab Yoga, Jim Mooney with black Lab Chiffon and Nancy Peake with yellow Lab June

by Susan Mooney

Where had the summer gone? When Chiffon and I did our weekly shopping, it was hard to believe that the kids and parents we saw were in the middle of buying backpacks, pencils, crazy-colored markers and folders. It seemed like only last week, water toys were the big item.

"Back to School" had a new meaning for us this year. When the kids in our neighborhood were heading into their classrooms, Chiffon and two other puppies in our group would be heading to Grand Junction, Colorado to board the puppy truck back to school in Oregon.

While the kids were having the last of their swim parties and backyard picnics, our foster fur daughters got together with their extended family in Durango for one last potluck. Lots of good food, companionship and remembrances of the past year or so were the order of the evening. These wonderful Labs had learned so much during their time with us, but that was nothing compared to what they taught us.

On the morning of August 25th, we made the bittersweet journey to meet Joe and Lee for the trip to "doggie college." Once again, we had a special last evening together. Once again, there were tears shed during picture taking, and truck boarding time. Once again, we watched the puppy truck pull out of the hotel parking lot.

"Be good, girls. Work hard. We love you, and miss you already." Cuddling our new pups, we dried our tears, and got ready for a new puppy school year -- what would we learn this time around?

But wait! There's more!

Here they are with their newest puppies: Jim Mooney with black Lab Ryder, Nancy Peake with yellow Lab Muffin and Miranda Framer with black Lab Persimmon (for club member Linda Starliper).

Raisers with two black and one yellow Lab puppy in front of puppy truck

Have you sent your GDB puppy "back to school" recently? What did you learn from the experience?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dogs With Hearts of Gold III

This past weekend, nearly 100 people came out to celebrate Dogs With Hearts of Gold III hosted by GDB’s Sierra Nevada Friends Committee at The Grove in Reno, Nev. The champagne brunch raised nearly $19,000 for GDB programs and veterinary care in the local Reno/Lake Tahoe Area.

The event, emceed by KTVN Channel 2 News Anchor Kristen Remington, featured a champagne reception followed by a luncheon. The keynote speaker was Carol Leamy with her Guide Dog Volley, and puppy raisers delighted guests by introducing them to their puppies.

It was a wonderful afternoon dedicated to reconnecting with our long-time supporters as well as sharing the GDB mission with new friends. Thank you to the Sierra Nevada Friends Committee for such a successful day!

Check out the photos!

What a great way to celebrate National Guide Dog Month! What are you doing to celebrate?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ahhh, Summer!

black Lab on pier with boats

While her human partner, Jan Robitscher is spending her summer “vacation” on a six-week long choir tour in Europe, her black Lab guide Lorelle is enjoying a vacation with her puppy raisers: Dino, Marti, Theo and Alex Madias. Lorelle is back to her old stomping grounds, going to work, attending college classes and hanging out with the other dogs. She has been going on lots of outings and recently visited AT&T park. While she was there, the Giant’s broke a five game losing streak so perhaps Lorelle needs to hang out at the park for every game!

black Lab near AT&T Park signage that reads: Home of the San Francisco Giants

Hey, it's National Guide Dog Month! Tell your favorit sports fans how much you love GDB!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Snap Happy!

black Lab puppy with mountains in background

Hey, thanks everyone for sending us so many great photos! You've obviously been busy.

Check out these photos!

And don't forget these...!

Now, we want to see photos from all of you who came to our Fun Days... How about it? Submit to our Flickr site.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Play Ball!

Jumbotron showing Bob and Niño at the mound and GDB logo

To the cheers of 40,000 sports fans, GDB's Planned Giving Associate Director Bob Sonnenberg with his black Lab Niño threw out the first pitch at a recent Giant's baseball game in AT&T Park in San Francisco. Watch the video...

Although he called it "Blind luck," Bob, who lost much of his sight suddenly seven years ago, threw a strike to Giant's pitcher Sergio Romo.

Niño, true to his good training, did not go after the ball ("Good boy!"). He later developed a friendship with Giant's mascot Lou Seal.

Giant's mascot Lou Seal makes friends with black Lab Niño

What a great way to kick off National Guide Dog Month and raise awareness for GDB's mission! How are you making new friends for GDB?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Want a Puppy?

Young female volunteer holds yellow Lab puppy in towel

Ah, that new puppy smell -- how could anyone resist? Certainly not those lucky GDB puppy raising families who came to our Fun Days! Check out these videos of the on-stage puppy deliveries on the California and Oregon campuses!

Are you ready to raise a puppy for GDB?

Friday, September 2, 2011


Apprentice Instructor Arleen Jordan guides CSI Miami star Eva LaRue on a blindfold walk with a yellow Lab Guide Dog

CSI: Miami celebrities Eva LaRue and Omar Miller honor a real life forensic scientist and (GDB Alumna)Dr. Cecilia von Beroldingen to kick off Natural Balance Pet Food and PETCO sponsored National Guide Dog Month. Also, check out Eva's article in

GDB Alumna Barbara Milles discusses the "Domino Effect"

Caleb's Family Reunion at GDB Fun Day

Sylvia Modesitt and her black Lab Landon prepare for college

Helping Those Who Can't See: a presentation by GDB Acting CEO Morgan Watkins

GDB puppy raiser and Oregon State University student Mallary Paoli prepares her yellow Lab puppy Lanzo for "college" and herself for a future career

Clark Roberts and his yellow Lab guide Arby share a unique perspective

September is National Guide Dog Month! How are you making news to support GDB?