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.

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