Monday, November 28, 2011

A Homecoming Week to Remember

black Lab GDB puppy in cowboy hat and shadesby Olivia Mesches, GDB puppy raiser

I am a Junior at Modesto High School in California. Our student body has a long history of displaying extreme spirit and pride during Homecoming Week.

My 10-month-old Guide Dog Puppy in Training, Gaston, was no exception. Gaston dressed up for every spirit day (or, rather, I dressed him up...often to his embarrassment) including Western Day, Neon Day, Explorer Day, Pirate Day, and of course, Spirit Day!

He wore each costume proudly. Occasionally, though, he'd heave a heavy sigh, his sad puppy eyes staring deeply into people's souls as if to say "Look what this crazy lady did to me! Please take this costume off me and have her committed!" Needless to say, Gaston attracted more "ooos" and "awwws" during Homecoming Week than at any other time!

black Lab in red tutu shaking paws with a female friendLuckily, Gaston goes to school with me every day and has grown accustomed to such fame, so he has learned not to let it go to his head. However I am quite sure that, had there been a place for dogs on the Homecoming Royalty ballot, Gaston definitely would have won.

I convinced myself that dressing my dog up was really benefitting him in addition to being fun for me and everyone else who encountered him. (I know one dog who won't be having any sensitivity issues once it comes time for him to put on the big boy harness.)

There were a few costumes, however, that made my male friends cringe...such as the hot pink sweater he wore for Neon Day or the red tutu he wore on Spirit Day. But I assured them that Gaston is very secure in his masculinity (after all, there is an entire song dedicated to this fact in Beauty and the Beast). If you were to ask him, I definitely think Gaston preferred being a cowboy or a pirate.

black Lab in red tutuGaston and I finished off this fun and crazy week at a rally. He had the privilege of sitting in the front row seat and had plenty of eyes on him. Unfortunately, he slept through most of the activities including the school band's performance (even though they were set up right behind us). The resounding din of a gym full of hyped-up high school students right before school let out for the weekend wasn't enough to rouse him. He did get up lazily to help escort me across the gym, providing for the majority of the cheering and cuteness factor.

Gaston was such a good sport and he really made Fall Homecoming special and memorable for a lot of people, myself included.

Olivia with Gaston in tutu

Olivia and Gaston

Friday, November 25, 2011

We've Got a Bone to Pick with Marrow Bones!

by Carol Conway, Client Services Representative, GDB Veterinary Clinic

Our California Campus Veterinary Clinic had an emergency case recently, which we thought was worth sharing: The Harrowing Story of the Marrow Bone! This story's not for the squeamish, but it does have a happy ending!

We often have people ask us what’s safe to give their dog to keep it busy – there are so many products on the market, many with obvious flaws, but some which seem innocent enough. And our dogs love them all!

In this case, however, without the fast reaction of the dog’s custodian, the situation could have been painful and costly, and had serious consequences. A dog had been given a marrow bone to chew on, and somehow had worked it around its lower jaw, ending up with it getting stuck behind the two lower canine teeth. The dog had attempted to push the bone off with its tongue and managed to get its tongue caught underneath.

As soon as the dog arrived at the clinic, it was given sedation, and GDB's veterinary technicians began cutting the marrow bone off with a cast-cutting saw. (This type of saw cuts through bone and plaster, but does not harm the skin.) When the bone was sawed through on one side, a piece of metal was used to pry the bone until it broke in half. The dog awoke easily and had no lingering effects.

Needless to say, the dog is now happly munching biscuits! No more marrow bones!

marrow bone caught around dog's lower jaw
sawing through the marrow bone
broken marrow bone

Friday, November 18, 2011

Candid Camera

black Lab in puppy coat with bright pink tongueVoltaire had it made in the shade...

Our camera buffs have been busy!
Check out our photo submissions for September and October.
And don't forget to take a swim in our Flickr Group Photo pool!

yellow Lab in party hat

Vivaldi had a great birthday party!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our November Tradition: The Oregon Fall Luncheon

Two puppy raisers with their new pupsIt's a First Friday in November Tradition! Our 12th Annual Oregon Fall Luncheon was held earlier this month at the Oregon Zoo in Portland. With a sell-out crowd of more than 300 people, the event raised funds to support programs at our Oregon campus, as well as introduced us to new friends and offered us a chance to reconnect with longtime supporters. Acting CEO Morgan Watkins with his guide Will emceed the program that featured a dog training demonstration, a keynote address by Paralympic Downhill Skiing Bronze Medalist Danelle Umstead with her Guide Dog Bettylynn, and the ever-popular puppy delivery where puppy raisers were introduced to their new pups (pictured above). Kudos to the volunteer event committee for putting on such a fabulous affair. To see all of the photos from the event, please visit our Flickr site at the following link: Oregon Fall Luncheon Photos.

Breeder's Digest for September 2011

A litter of yellow Lab puppies
Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers
Labrador Retriever-Golden Retriever Crosses
Golden Retrievers

New Breeders

Labrador Retrievers
  • Anadale – raised in CA
  • Hestia – raised in CA
  • Joplin – raised in CA
  • Tito – raised in CO
Lab-Golden Cross
  • March – raised in CA
Golden Retrievers
  • Fresca – raised in CA
  • Picasso – raised in CA

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saying "Goodbye" to Denver

German Shepherd wearing red scarf

by Bonnie Finsthwait, co-leader, Auburn Foothills Guiding Eyes

In 1998, I received a fluffy, 8-week-old German Shepherd puppy to raised named Denver. I had been raising Guide Dog puppies since 1985, and knew from the minute I held Denver in my arms that he would go onto a great career as a working guide. Denver was energetic, smart, and quick. He loved to work and found such joy in being with people. It was a pleasure to handle him and as I watched him step forward into life as a working guide in September, 2000, I was very proud.

His first blind partner loved him immediately and they did very well together. They lived in a small rural town in Nevada with no sidewalks, and little traffic. Unfortunately, this gentleman died suddenly in May of 2001 and Denver was returned to GDB.

After a month's retraining, Denver was placed with another gentleman, to graduate in July, 2001. Denver continued this career for the next eight years in the Sacramento Area with lots of traffic, living in an apartment building and heading off to an office each day. He adjusted well to this new environment as I knew he would.

In late 2009, I received a called that Denver was being retired, and was given the opportunity to adopt him as my pet! What a joy it was to see him again and know that we had come "full circle" together! And, after not seeing each other for eight years, he remembered me and was as overjoyed to see me as I was him!

Denver spent the next year and a half on our ranch in the Sierra Foothills "at pasture" enjoying the freedom of our land and "educating" the new Guide Dog puppies I have continued to raise. In July of this year, Denver died of natural causes in my arms. His big heart just stopped...

I have always felt so fortunate and privileged to raise these wonderful dogs, and Denver gave me the gift of his love in his puppyhood and then in his elder years. He worked hard, played hard and loved much...he was a sweet soul who gave his all to his people. Goodbye Denver.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Giving Back to a Veteran

Lab/Golden Cross
Meet Stanley, a GDB puppy whose career path took him on a very different journey than most of our puppies. He was donated to an organization called Paws'itive Teams and matched with the perfect partner -- an active duty Marine who lost both of his legs during his duty in Afghanistan and will be receiving his formal discharge this coming year.

Stanley is a great match -- friendly, dedicated and eager to please. He's learned to fetch and deliver objects, open doors and much more. Check out this short video, showing the team working during transition training.

Nice job, Stanley! And thank you to this Marine and all our veterans for your sacrifices.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Keeping Up with Caleb

black Lab

Follow Caleb on his latest adventures as he takes to the air (by plane, of course) for a wonderful vacation in San Francisco. And then, he whined (not really) and dined at the Canine Heroes Wine Auction in Napa Valley -- a fundraiser that supports veterinary care for GDB dogs and pups.

Raiser Megan says, "Caleb is with us—and more specifically, me—all the time; I am his person. He will go anywhere and do anything for me. Over the last year, we’ve built an amazing bond and trust that we’ll always have no matter what his future holds. He may go weeks, months or years without seeing me but his reaction will be the same and the reunions will be joyful no matter how long we’ve been apart.

"I honestly don’t think any of my pups spend their days pining for me. All of them are with their soul mates and where they are meant to be. I am the awesome aunt who brings special presents and treats. From day one, I remind myself eventually we’ll have to say goodbye but as recent as last night I find myself tearing up at the prospect. It never gets easier, in fact, sometimes I think it gets harder with each dog."

Thank you Megan, and all of our puppy raisers, from everyone at GDB!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Members of Solano Puppy Raisers Laurie Vidt, with Elko, Nora Salet, with Kip, and Diana Wilson, with Toga, left to right, help expose their dogs to new sights and sounds as part of their training. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

Puppies in Salinas Become Guide Dogs. Cover story!

Roselle, WTC Angel, wins first place in the American Humane Hero Dog Award and won $15K for GDB! Be sure to tune in on November 11 on the Hallmark Channel! Marin IJ, Novato Patch, Huffington Post, Dream Dogs, Daily Pilot, Pet Tales, Animal Fair and Illuminating the World in Six Dots.

Atticus takes third! Heroes, all! The handsome yellow Lab is the partner of Jim Hogan, a Vietnam Veteran. Atticus was named Grand Marshal Dog for the event. He and Jim attend numerous veterans' conventions and ceremonies.

Clark Roberts says, "The real difference between a cane and a [guide] dog is a brain..."

GDB Career Change Dog goes on to new career in search and rescue

Teacher's Guide Dog Attacked by Rottweillers
: Why it's important to keep pet dogs under control...

A GDB Graduate takes to the skies!

Puppy Love with a Purpose

In the December 2011 issue of DogFancy Magazine, there's a wonderful article and photo of our good friend Betty White and her GDB career change Golden, Pontiac.

GDB Alumnus Elliot Aronson wins distinguished emeriti award from University of California at Santa Cruz

Polar Vision crew set to go to Antarctica to raise support for GDB!

GDB Alumnus Larry Marcum says that "Life is Better with a Guide Dog".

Lemore, CA, raisers win award for innovation. Model of Innovation awards are given in three divisions: student development, chapter development and community development to FFA members.