Thursday, March 29, 2012

Labs Live at Andrei's III

Puppy raiser and Orange County Friends Committee member Pete Egus with a yellow Lab Guide Dog puppyLast Saturday, more than 125 people attended “Labs Live at Andrei’s III,” a fundraiser put on by the Orange County Friends Committee of Guide Dogs for the Blind. The event raised more than $32,000 to support GDB programs in the Orange County area, where 33 of our puppies and 50 working Guide Dog teams currently reside.

The luncheon was located at the beautiful Andrei’s Restaurant in Irvine. Guests were treated to demonstration of vision adaptive equipment by GDB alumnus Wayne Heidle with his guide Tuesday. In addition, all enjoyed a moving presentation that featured remarks by GDB alumna Linda Becker with her Guide Dog Anchorage, a keynote address by GDB alumna Theresa Stern with her Guide Dog Dario, and a special “puppy delivery” where a yellow Lab puppy named Connie was introduced to her volunteer puppy raisers. In addition, our new CEO Paul Lopez was introduced and provided his background and vision for GDB. To see photos, please visit our Flickr site.

This was the eighth fundraiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind in Orange County. Special thanks to GDB’s Orange County Friends Committee, including event co-hosts Susan and Dave Gerke, who helped organize and produce the festive and informative affair.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


black Lab Kit Guide Dog puppy Kit, raised by Sharon Clegg and Howard and Shirley Douds. (Photo by Shirley Douds)

Get your snapshots while they're hot!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Wearin' o' the Green

raisers carry a banner titled Pups with Vision, following behind them march more raisers and their puppies
Some might think our puppies are Irish -- they're always wearing green! We asked our raisers on our Facebook Page to send in photos if they got involved with any parades or activities, and here's what Jill Dayton, leader of NW Paws for a Purpose wrote:

"There was a possibility of snow flurries, but that didn’t stop six GDB puppy clubs from meeting to walk in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade through the Hollywood District in Portland, OR. Families gathered on the sidewalks to watch the event and between our cute puppies and the candy that we tossed, we were a great hit! Just as the parade concluded, the skies opened up to rain. Soon after, there was a major hail storm, but by then, our puppies were tucked away in cars and on their way home."

Woman and boy with yellow Lab puppy
Jill Dayton with her son Dillon and puppy Lupine

Heidi with yellow Lab in St Patricks Day garb O'Heidi Geller with her pup, O'Dinah

Linda Herinck, the leader of Pups With Vision wrote:
"We had the luck of the Irish with us for sure. Our club, Pups with Vision, has participated in this parade for the past 7 years and this was only the second year that we haven't been drenched by Oregon's liquid sunshine."

Raisers and pups with banner
Looks like fun, doesn't it?

Do you know anyone who might want to become a puppy raiser?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Puppy Raising Addiction Crosses the Ocean

Erin walking on to graduation stage to present black Lab Freya

by Erin Austin

May 2010 was a big month for me. On May 22, 2010, I graduated from high school; I hear that is suppose to be a big moment in your life. I suppose it was for me too, but my graduation was overshadowed by another event. Just a week later on May 29, 2010, my first Guide Dog puppy, Freya, graduated as a working Guide Dog. I don’t think anyone in my class understood that I was more excited for my dog’s graduation than my own. But that’s how it stood in my mind. I had worked extremely hard with Freya for the past 14 months.

September 2010 was another bit month for me. On September 13, 2010, I gave my second puppy, Rocco, over to his new raiser. It was really hard to give up “the boy”, but the transition was a little easier since he was transferred to another club, just an hour or two out of town. So, I only cried a little. Then, a week or two later, I got on a plane to begin my life as an adult -- well, a University student, anyway.

My transition from living at home to living at school was a little different from most. I didn’t go to school in the same state or even across country. When I got off that plane, almost 24 hours later, I was in my new home of Aberdeen, Scotland. Once in my dorm room, after a much appreciated shower, I set up what I came to call my puppy shelf. I had a stuffed black Lab working guide and a stuffed yellow Lab puppy in training, Freya’s graduation picture, a few hand drawn pictures of my dogs from a friend, and Rocco and Freya’s scrapbooks. Some people might call me obsessive, but for me, my puppy shelf was a reminder of where I came from. It was a way to help make a foreign country feel like home.

As my first year of University was spent in student accommodations, I had to spend the year without a puppy. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t have any fun without a puppy. I went wild, had fun, and actually slept-in past six in the morning. It was a little strange at first not having to wake up early to stumble out onto the cold grass and say, “Do your business!” through yawns. I enjoyed it, though. But I did always feel a little lonely without a leash in my left hand.

I now rent privately with a landlady who is more than willing to let me indulge in my addiction. I was thrilled when we found a flat that would allow me to have a guide dog puppy. In October, I became a “puppy boarder” for a school here in Scotland, to see how I would deal with classes, social life, and a puppy. I “finally decided” I was ready for a puppy of my own again. Then I “decided” I wasn’t quite ready. Then I was. Then I wasn’t.

I must have gone a little insane during one of those times where I was ready for a puppy. I talked to my puppy raising supervisor during the monthly puppy class about when the best time for me to get a puppy would be. We decided it would be the beginning of my spring break, March 23. So, hopefully, on March 23, 2012, I’ll not only be celebrating Hilly’s second birthday but also the arrival of guide dog puppy number four!

When I started going to meeting in June 2008 I never thought I would raise a puppy in Scotland, but I’m very excited to start my next puppy raising journey. And very happy that I get to indulge in my addiction again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creativity Abounds!

painting of yellow Lab

"Our GDB puppy Minnie graduated last May, and went with a very special man named Arlen," wrote Grace Ehrman. "Minnie is his first dog and she's been a great asset to him with regard to his mobility.

"I was surprised to find he enjoyed painting. He told me he has complicated magnifying glasses that he uses.

"Yesterday, I got this email attachment of the picture he painted of Minnie in harness. The fact that with his minimal eyesight he painted that pretty yellow Lab with her harness on just took my breath away."

Here's how Minnie felt about it:

yellow Lab on her back

collage of children's drawings
Thousands of schoolchildren visit our campuses each year. One group, from Novato, CA, expressed what they learned from the tour by creating artwork. "Each child was creative about their visit to GDB," explained Cathy St. Sure. "We compiled the pieces into a collage and named it Guiding Futures." Nice work!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meet Chantal, Star of Our Mobile Site

iPhone with yellow Lab puppy

Sweet little Chantal on our mobile site home page is a yellow Labrador puppy. We asked her raisers Ani and Roy Green from Guide Dog Puppies of Seattle puppy raising club to tell us about her, and this is what they wrote:

Chantal is a very low key, easy going girl. She’s our second puppy (The first was super high energy.) We feel really blessed to be raising her.

She sleeps a lot, and she must be having great dreams, because sometimes she looks like she’s running. Once in awhile, she’ll let out a muffled bark.

When she’s awake, she enjoys resting her head on my knee. She loves to toss her bones around; we are constantly digging them out from under the couch. It took us awhile to realize she was doing it as a game … sneak!

We call her our ROCK STAR because:
· She has been easy from the start.
· She learns quickly and goes with the flow. We take her everywhere!
· She’s so pretty and well-behaved, she draws a lot of positive attention. She is also REALLY good with young children.

P.S. When the President called on the public to “give back,” we were on a mission to find something we could do. Then we met a puppy raiser, and rest, as they say, is history… We met with our town’s club leader and soon attended our first puppy meeting. The dogs are so well-behaved, and it was such fun meeting other puppy raisers, we were sold.

How about you? Are you interested in raising a puppy for GDB?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Come Fly With Us"

More than 180 supporters of Guide Dogs for the Blind joined us last Sunday for “Come Fly with Us” at the Birnam Wood Golf Club in Montecito, Calif. The intimate fundraiser featured keynote speakers Lorri and Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (pictured above), and raised more than $52,000. The proceeds of the event will help support veterinary care and programs in the Santa Barbara tri-county area, where 22 puppies and 24 Guide Dog teams currently reside.

Sully provided a deeply moving presentation in regard to the fateful day when he and his crew safely landed an Airbus in the frigid waters of the Hudson River. Lorrie also spoke about that day and how the accident changed their lives and those of their family forever. The Sullenbergers have been members of the GDB family for more than twenty years. Their daughters have raised two Guide Dog puppies, and they have been volunteer custodians to four of GDB’s breeding stock dogs. Their current breeder dog, Fame, was by their side during the presentation.

In addition, GDB’s new CEO Paul Lopez was introduced and provided his background and vision for Guide Dogs for the Blind, while alumnus Vickie Kennedy and her Guide Angela wowed the crowd with an emotional, passionate speech. More than a dozen puppy raisers and several working Guide Dog teams were in attendance, making sure that all of our guests received plenty of puppy love. It was a great event, and a wonderful opportunity to share our story with our supporters and friends in the Santa Barbara Area.

Happy Puppy Day

by Sue Vandegrift

Dear Puppy Raisers --

Today marks a wonderful milestone in my life that I wanted to share with you all. Two years ago last week I received a call giving me the flight information to go to a cold and wet Portland to get my Guide Dog.

As I finished the final preparations and packing, I was nervous and worried how this would all play out. Amanda, my daughter, was only months from graduating high school and I needed to find a new way to get around. How would [my dog] fit into my office life? Would I still be working? I never imagined what and where life would take me. As I took a plane flight across the US, changing planes several times -- it would be the last time I would be so scared to travel alone.

It was two years ago today that I met Apex for the very first time. His birthdate is the same as my kitten's, and he was the tall, dark and handsome man I prayed for since I was in high school (So he came on four legs instead of two -- I had to compromise somewhere - haha). He and I hit it off within minutes and we have been unstoppable ever since. He does not mind shopping as long as lunch is included and he loves to travel and see many new faces and places. As I type this, he lies next to me sleeping (and snoring) in the warm Florida afternoon sun.

I have traveled all over (Eastern Carribbean, Bahamas,Virgin Islands, Massachutes, Connecticut, Vermont, Florida, Texas and Georgia just to name a few) with "my tall, dark and handsome" guiding my footsteps. We watched as Amanda graduated high school and we partied the night away (I had earned it !) We worked several full military honor funerals without a flinch from my guide during the honor gun salutes. We tackled and attended a movie premiere (Letters to God- it was filmed at my office just before I got Apex). We survived two long, endless months with dad in CCU/ICU/PCU and then his death and funeral. We got caught in the October snow/ice storm in the Northeast, and we still continue to work, travel and shop on our own. We have found a new church home and attend every chance we can. I still remain independent, although my brother refuses to let me mow the yard, fix the plumbing, or hang pictures (things blind folks don't do so well anyway).

We (Apex and I) are currently planning more trips: to the Carribbean in early 2013, to go skiing in Utah in the fall of 2012. I am starting the process of planning my dream trip to Alaska to see the Arura Borelis and Hawaii to see the volcano and black beaches (both states are on my bucket list, and I can not believe they will actually become reality in the summer/fall of 2013) as well as a trip, or two, to see family and friends all across this land.

Laying down my driver's license was very hard, as I thought it would be the end of my working and traveling days, but instead God traded me - my driving a car for my wonderful Guide Dog.

Apex has truely lived up to the meaning of his name and been the pinnacle of my life even thru the health scares we have both endured. Two-and-a-half years ago, it took me nearly an hour to go one block with my white cane, finding every crack in the sidewalk and more often than not, I sat at home, totaly fustrated and exhausted by trying to travel or walk. Yesterday, Apex and I did two miles in 30 minutes without thinking about it - what a joy to be able to walk like a sighted person again.

He loves children and so I am getting back into working with them more and more. He also loves to entertain the crowd while I (attempt to) sing, so I am once again beginning to sing on stage --I always hated being taken and led like a small child so I stopped singing when I started losing my vision. I also have begun pursuing things that interest Sue as I begin to enjoy the "empty nest" now that Amanda has moved out. It is amazing how much less house cleaning there is to do when there are no children around...humm (I had forgotten that part of being single...)

Thank you all for your prayers and emotional support over these last two wonderful and event-filled years, and continue to pray for us as I have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. Who knows--you may see me at your door or even hear me as I go by. God truely does give us riches beyond measure and often more than we can think of.

Celebrate today - it is all we know we have - tomorrow is simply hoped for and yesterday was.

On our Happy "Puppy Day",
Sue and guide Apex

Adventures with my Guide Dogs

walking with black Lab guide
by Ernie Jones

One early autumn morning a while back my brothers, nephew and I decided to walk the four-mile trail that wandered from end to end along Sullivan Lake in Northern Idaho. Though it had rained during the night the morning ushered in blue skies.

Immediately on reaching the trail's head, my then Guide Dog, Melita, took her normal lead position and we set off. The trail was great for one person, but a little narrow for a guide team to squeeze between the wet, drooping bushes crowding the trail.

Although I trusted Melita, I knew my companions were not that convinced of her ability to keep me out of danger. Thus I was not surprised when I heard one of my brothers call out, "Watch out there is a ... " then a pause before adding, "Oh, Melita is watching out." I lost track of the times one of them would start to warn me, only to hear, "Oh, she is watching out for him."

Several times we had to squeeze past large trees growing almost in the trail. In other places we had to cross slides, picking our way across 30 feet of loose rock. The trail would rise up the steep hillside only to drop back down to the water's edge. Loose stones and other debris littered the trail in places but Melita was ever at my left side, guiding me.

Two hours later we were walking over almost level ground, the trail soft from years of leaves and needles decaying under the lofty trees, cushioning our walk. Pausing I said, "I am sure glad we walked this direction for we have the easy trail at the end when we are tired."

"I'm glad we walked this direction, too, but for another reason," replied one of my brothers. "There were long distances where the trail ran almost on the edge of the cliff. For several feet there was a sheer drop of 300 feet straight down to the lake below. That wonderful dog kept you pushed as far as she could away from the bank's edge."

Much later, after Melita had died and I had my new guide, Randy, we were camped out with family for a weekend at Jubilee Lake. After hiking around it a couple of times with my family, I told them that in the morning I was going to walk it alone with Randy.

Immediately, I knew some thought this not a good idea, but I was determined.
Thus the next day after breakfast Randy and I set out. But when I gave him the signal to get on the trail, he took me down the path we had taken the afternoon before, which just led to the water's edge.

Realizing the mistake, I gave the command and we returned to camp where I asked my sister-in-law to direct us to the right trail.

From there we had no problem as my guide confidently led me around large holes in the trail, between trees and over wooden bridges. I thrilled with this freedom.

Later I heard how my brother, wanting to make sure I was safe, had started down the trail to follow us. But since we had to start over, my brother was actually ahead of me, hurrying to catch up with me while Randy and I enjoyed our walk.

Now lest you think my Guide Dog's life is continually work, consider most days. It's been raining or very icy out this winter, so we don't take our morning walk. Most of the day finds me working at the computer while Randy just sleeps. Many evenings Dorothy and I watch several quiz shows on television. If I curl up on the love-seat, very likely Randy will go to his bed. But if he sees me with a pillow and a blanket, he waits for he knows we will be lying on the floor, his body pressed tight against me with his head across my arm or shoulder.

Other times, I get out his rubber ring, which he carries to the front room where we play tug. His growls reverberate through the house. This game continues until I am tired. When I start into the kitchen, he carries the ring to meet me in the utility room and drops it in my hand. If fate is smiling on him, he will get a special doggie treat but, regardless, he is ever ready for a deep drink of cool water.

His life is really quite easy.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Hannah and yellow Lab Fred on cover of magazine
Look who made the cover! Raiser Hannah Nederhoff extolls the joys of raising Fred in Allen Image (article begins on page 50)

GDB's Director of Research and Development was interviewed about GDB's positive training techniques for a New Yorker Magazine article: Beware of the Dogs: Can New York’s canine units keep the city safe from terrorism? ($5.99 required for non-subscriber access to full article/issue)

GDB Breaks ground for a new student residence on the California campus!

Saying Goodbye, Joyus Hello! Graduation at Guide Dogs for the Blind, Oregon campus

Guide Dog Puppy Raised by Family in Gaston, Oregon, Graduates

Training Puppies in Modesto, CA

Polar Vision -- A new record in support of GDB

K9 Buddy Makes the news again!

Young raisers in Chico, California, inspire others

Breeder's Digest for December 2011

Baby puppies- a yellow Lab and a black Lab
Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers
Golden Retrievers
New Breeders

Golden Retrievers
  • Tarragon – raised in OR
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Baldwin – raised in WA
  • Karina – raised in CA
  • Peeka – raised in CA
Lab/Golden Cross
  • Tenley – raised in CA

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Benjamin Button Dog

golden retriever in puppy coat Luigi

read more about his early life...

by Carrie Mesches at the graduation of her Guide Dog puppy

We are so proud and happy to be here today to meet Julia and celebrate the graduation of all of the dogs, but most of all our Luigi.

Luigi is the “Benjamin Button” of Guide Dogs. Like the character in the movie, he was born an old man and seems to have aged backwards! When Luigi was a young pup I actually took him to the vet numerous times because he was so mellow that I was convinced he had a heart defect or something seriously wrong. He was scary mellow…drag him out from under a table at a restaurant mellow, wake him up in the morning to eat, mellow. And we all know that Lab puppies are known for their timely eating habits!

As he matured, we were happy to see more of his playful nature and sweet personality emerge, and we knew he was special. He was the puppy that we never thought twice about taking anywhere, hotels, fancy restaurants, the symphony, eighth grade, he even went to a GLEE concert! Anywhere we went Luigi was dignified, made friends, and impressed even the “wary of dogs” crowd. He was just EASY. That label soon earned him the honor of being every new raiser’s puppy sitting puppy. Luigi was loved by pretty much every puppy raiser in our club. (As you can see by his fan club in the audience) He helped them realize that they really were capable of raising a puppy, and built their confidence.

I would like to thank all of the members of our puppy club, Stanislaus County PAWS. I’m proud of all of you and your puppies. I’d also like to thank the Canine Welfare Technicians here at GDB, especially Betsy. It’s so much easier to bring our beloved puppies here at recall time, knowing that they will be loved and cared for by the kennel staff. I’m very proud of the commitment that my kids have made to raising guide dog pups. Sophie did an amazing job with Luigi, and has started a new puppy, Wilbur. Olivia and Emma have wonderful puppies in training, Gaston and Kenton. Our son Ben is in charge of snuggle and play time when he is home from college. Most of all I’d like to thank my husband, Jeremy, who has supported and helped me with all of the puppies who have come and gone through our house. He has been up for just about anything as far as my Puppy Club responsibilities are concerned. I just have to work on the dog toy/dog collar category in our budget.

Julia, I’m so happy that Luigi is your dog. We have become friends, we live pretty close to each other, and I look forward to getting to know you better. Thank you for being willing to stay in contact with us. My hope for you is that Luigi, like Benjamin Button, will continue to age backwards for you during your long happy life together.