Monday, January 28, 2013

Vancouver Puppy Club Hosts Guide Dog Day

By Jim Price

Guide dog puppy Granola meets some young admirers

Hundreds of visitors, many of them grinning children, turned out for a grand day of dogs in downtown Vancouver, Wash., on a recent Saturday in January. (Pictured above: Guide dog puppy Granola meets some young admirers.) Children were invited to read to a guide dog, watch training demonstrations, and color guide dog scenes. In addition to learning all about guide dogs, they got to experience Vancouver's newest library, a $38-million, five-story, state-of-the-art facility.

Dubbed "Puppy to Guide Dog," the climax of the event saw seven new puppies meet their puppy raisers at the third-floor Early Learning Center. "It was a lot of fun," said Mike Githens, accounting manager of the library district, who also happens to be a puppy raiser and leader of the Guiding Eyes Puppy Club. "I'm not sure exactly how many people turned out, but it was a lot more than I expected," he smiled. "People flowed in and out all day from the time we started at 11:00." On hand were a number of puppies-in-training, along with their raisers answering questions the entire time.

Outside at the curb visitors got to take a tour of the GDB puppy truck, which was packed with baby puppies on their way to various cities in the west. For more than three hours wide-eyed children pulled parents to and from puppy raisers and their dogs to the bus, and back again. "How fun," quipped one young mother of two. "Maybe we could raise one some day kids, what do you think?" She got a unanimous shout of approval.

Community Field Rep Deana Allen said, "Things went really well. We are always looking for more puppy raisers and this seemed like a good way to promote that. I'm really grateful to the Guiding Eyes Club for all their work putting the event together."

Puppy presenters at the event included Vancouver City Councilman Larry Smith; Vancouver Library District Executive Director Nancy Tessman; GDB board member Ruth Ann Dodson; and GDB alumnus Jake Koch with his guide dog, Angelina, who together are frequent volunteers for GDB and the Vancouver club. He is on the staff at the Washington School for the Blind.

Happy Ending for Book Hounds Club Member

By Angela Orr
GDB Development Associate

Bobi and Izzy at graduation

Bobi Earp didn’t just join the Portland Book Hounds club in 2011 because she loved books.  She joined to learn about dogs. Bobi had never had a dog of her own but thought joining a group of individuals who were connected to Guide Dogs for the Blind would be the best way to introduce her to them. The group had a great mix of guides and adopted career change dogs for which Bobi could meet and learn from. For a year, Bobi attended monthly book club meetings and for a year she educated herself about what it would be like to have a guide dog of her own. Then she made the big decision to enroll in Guide Dog training. The book club was thrilled with Bobi’s decision and even threw her a puppy shower before she left for school.

In December 2012, Bobi began her training on GDB's Oregon campus. She was paired with Izzy, a 50-pound 2 year-old yellow Lab. After her first week, Bobi wrote to her book club friends and shared how things were going:

“This week we went to Walmart - that was just incredible, with all the people talking about the beautiful dogs. I have never been so on stage. Before, I didn’t know folks even looked at me, but now when they do, and I don’t know it, they say something about my beautiful dog. Saturday I was in tears as we went to Clackamas Town center to ride the escalators. It is so amazing to go through a mall and not get hit by displays or pedestrians. Then we did a trail walk and I lost it, as I have not been able to walk a trail since I went blind. I don’t even have words for the huge gift that the dog and its training is. Izzy lays on my lap for ear cleaning and teeth brushing - amazing! It has all been a whirlwind of emotions, and you have no idea the vastness of the gift of the guide dog. I just want to thank you and all the Book Hounds for all the acceptance and encouragement.”

On December 15th, 2012, Bobi and Izzy walked across the Oregon campus stage for their graduation. In attendance were Bobi’s family, Izzy’s raisers, and of course the Book Hound gang. Bobi still attends book club but now she’s not alone. Izzy s right there with her and they are one heck of a team.