Monday, October 29, 2012

Lessons from the Dog House: The Adventures of Ansel

Submitted by Timothy Burdick
(Written by Guide Dog Ansel)

My name is Ansel, and I would like to introduce my partner, Timothy. Timothy is a hospital Chaplain, who is blind, and I am his Guide Dog and Chaplain’s assistant. I am really underpaid, because aside from these two jobs, I do much more. In fact, I do most of the work. Let me explain...

While Timothy can’t see, he doesn’t like to dwell on that fact. Rather, he tries to find ways, both figuratively and literally, around obstacles in his path. From going on emergencies in the hospital, to routine visits, I help Timothy make his way by guiding him around the hospital's twelve floors.

Timothy and I live within walking distance of the hospital, so we can get there any time in a matter of minutes. I have learned, however, that when he gets a sudden call and has to get to the hospital real early, that I am not a fan of early mornings. Despite this I try and do my best.

All Timothy has to do is say is "find the heart," when we get off the elevator, and I will guide him from the medical center to the heart hospital. But when I think about it, my favorite place to go is the cafeteria. While I can’t eat there, the food sure smells good, and sometimes Timothy will give me the ice from his cup.

More than just trying to be a great guide though, I am also a therapy dog, and as such, wear my badge from the hospital proudly. I love to cheer up patients, helping them see the brighter side of life, using my own brand of psychology. I go to each person, wag my tail, and offer cheer. Timothy says that I bring more comfort to the patients than he ever could on his own.

Sometimes Timothy likes to kid me when we come back from doing his rounds, saying, “instead of having a girl in every port, you have one in every nurse’s station.” But he has to admit that I really shine as a public relations guru, for when my harness is off, my job is to encourage the hospital staff.

While I want to remain modest, you have probably figured out by now that I am indispensable, and while my work makes for a long day, I do have time to sleep in meetings. As for you Timothy, “what do you do?" I ask. Then he usually answers, as he shrugs sarcastically, “I guess I just tag along.”

GDB's Oregon Campus Hosts Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines employees at GDB's Oregon campus

Recently 15 Alaska Airlines employees based in the airline's Portland office visited GDB's Oregon campus in Boring for an afternoon of team building and education. Director of Development Chris Jones spoke to them about the journey a Guide Dog takes through its life and the community it takes to create a Guide Dog partnership: from the breeder and puppy raising volunteers, to the staff instructors and campus volunteers, to the people who are blind that get matched with Guide Dogs. Alaska Airlines employees were then shown how different types of blindness affect a person’s vision with the use of special glasses. One highlight of the day was when our guests had the opportunity to take walks with Guide Dogs while under blindfold. They were accompanied by instructors and led around the campus in order to get a feel for the trust that needs to develop between handler and dog to make a successful working relationship. “This is the ultimate example of teamwork,” said Regional Development Officer Debbie Hibbard, who helped facilitate the airline's visit.

Alaska Airlines continues to demonstrate exceptional customer service when flying GDB staff members and dogs. We would like to extend a special thank you to them for visiting our campus and continuing to be a tremendous supporter of GDB!

Breeder's Digest for July 2012

Golden Kaylee with her litter of pups

Litter Announcements

Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retriever-Golden Retriever Crosses

Golden Retrievers

New Breeders

Labrador Retrievers      

  • Jolt – raised in WA     
  • Lorna – raised in OR

Lab-Golden Cross 

  • Tessie – raised in OR

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Girl Scout Project Blossoms at GDB

Four girl scouts in their newly-planted lavender garden at GDB.

Girl Scout Daisy Troop #10160, of Santa Rosa, CA, has proudly presented The Guide Dogs for the Blind's California campus in San Rafael with six lavender plants. The girls, all first-graders, planted, maintained, and transplanted the lavender from starters for a project known as “It’s Your World-Change It!” As a part of the Leadership Journey, the girls were given the opportunity to explore the world of gardening and nature, while practicing elements of the Girl Scout Law, including being responsible for what they say and do and taking action to better the world around them.

The troop decided that raising the beautiful and fragrant plants would be a great first step, but that donating them to an upstanding cause would be even better. One of the scouts made the decision of just who should receive the lavender an easy choice, as her grandmother has worked in the Guide Dogs breeding department for years.

All the girls put great time and commitment into their Journey and take great pride in contributing their hard work to help beautify GDB's campus. The girls planted the lavender for all to enjoy (human and canine alike!) just inside the back entrance to the kennels.

Four girl scouts planting a lavender garden at GDB.

We've Got Mail: New Career, New Friends!

The following is an update from career change adopters Tammie and Scott. It is an expression of gratitude to all puppy raisers. We love it when career change dogs like Shep have such a wonderful impact on their adopters and their community! 

Dear Guide Dogs for the Blind -

I thought you would enjoy hearing how one career change dog, Shep, has brought raisers and his new family together and is making a difference in his new career.

We have been very lucky to create a friendship with Shep's raisers. They are amazing people we would never know if it wasn't for Shep. We have meet on a few occasions- one being his 2nd birthday, even though we live almost two hours apart. We understand that they made the difficult choice to allow him to go so he could have another career, and we feel the smallest gift we can give them is to share Shep with them as we are able. He has a Facebook page to keep his friends, family and puppy club updated on his adventures. Recently Shep even spent a week's vacation with them. It meant a lot to his main raiser, Sierra, who is 15, to spend time with him.

Shep gets a kiss on the top of his head. As much as it was hard to see him leave again, they are always excited for Shep and the opportunities he has. They are thrilled that he gets to work 40 hours a week making seniors happy. Shep is now certified as a pet therapy dog, through pet partners (formally Delta Society), with both Scott and I. He breezed through his test.

Shep's job is going very well. Residents, families, visitors all love seeing him and he is wonderful with them all. The residents have taught him to shake hands, and give light kisses on cheek or hand.

His raiser family shares Shep's career change success with their puppy club, encouraging other raisers to allow career changes a chance at another job. They share with others how much faith they have in GDB's placement department to find the right home/job for the dogs.

We are thankful for the opportunity to adopt Shep and all the friends and joy he has brought into our lives.


Tammie, Scott and Shep