Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Humble Heroes of Foster Care

By: Rebecca Hornick - GDB Foster Care Coordinator
As the Foster Care Coordinator at GDB's San Rafael campus, I witness acts of enormous generosity every day. It’s truly inspirational to watch a group of people regularly come to meet the need of a variety of foster dogs each year. There are countless tales of the sacrifices the foster care volunteers make to help us, but some are true standouts. One example is a group of East Bay foster care providers who rallied together to support one of our graduates who had been injured in an automobile accident. Because the graduate needed to recover for several months, he could not work his guide dog for the duration of that time. Without hesitation, a team of five East Bay volunteers rallied together to come to his aid. They coordinated their schedules and came at least once a day (on a daily basis) to check in on the graduate and walk his guide dog in a manner that wouldn’t interfere with his guide work training. After several months of their support, the graduate recovered and was able to work his guide dog safely again. I know this wonderful guide dog team shares my praise and appreciation for this group of dedicated volunteers. Without their help, this guide dog team would have had a much more difficult time getting up and running to resume guide work again. I know it helped the graduates healing time to have his guide dog by his side everyday instead of boarding in a kennel. 

volunteers, Rick Linden, Julie Burnet, Sally Dew, Heidi Sanders, and Marjorie Little

Huge thanks to volunteers, Rick Linden, Julie Burnet, Sally Dew, Heidi Sanders, & Marjorie Little.

Other examples of heroic volunteer efforts occur every day in the homes of people like foster care providers, Carol Mack and Leo Morozoff.  Luckily for us, both live close to our San Rafael campus and they’ve been willing and able to care for some of our neediest orthopedic recovery dogs.  Sometimes we ask that they take in foster dogs before and after orthopedic surgeries which entails a lot: both volunteers received additional training to do physical therapy massage/manipulations and they also take dog through strength building exercises several times a day. 

Orthopedic therapy for black lab doing obstacle and balance course
Often they take their foster dogs to a local vet clinic twice a week so they can do additional hydrotherapy exercise in a tank made specifically for that purpose. The speedy recovery these dogs experience in an otherwise very lengthy process is because of a great team effort: veterinarians, vet techs, other clinic staff and volunteers, as well as many, many hours in the homes of volunteer foster care providers like Carol and Leo.

Black lab doing hydrotherapy in special pool

A special thank you to all of our amazing foster care provider volunteers - tail wags to all of you!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bonnie's Gifts

By: The Neff Family

We first saw her as she checked out the exercise area at Guide Dogs for the Blind. We sent a looping three tone whistle and a cheerful "Bonnie, come" and she was ours!
Achoo! Achoo! Allergies and ear infections were what kept Bonnie from guide dog service. Instead she would be there to give her new owner John, the much needed encouragement that would eventually be needed. With the best traits of a Golden/Lab Retriever, Bonnie through the years has given more than an accountant could score!
John Neff holds up the book Dog Heroes as Bonnie looks on.

Twice daily walks stopped while John underwent hospitalization, recovery, and therapy for a serious spine infection. During a long course of rehabilitation, a major factor in his recovery was a strong desire to “walk with Bonnie.”  Once home, the leash waited until one day, Bonnie brought it to John and they had their first steps together in months.

Being curled asleep by his shoes, Bonnie encouraged John to bend over and pet his friend. If John were to fall outside, Bonnie, twirling and with little sounds coming from her throat, would race indoors to seek help.

The gentle, wet nose on his arm would say, "I am awake, how about you?" Waiting at each doorway, Bonnie seemed to say, "You go first - I am right behind you." As John exercised each day, she seemed to tell him, “I AM HERE, YOU CAN DO IT.” From her long held innate traits, she knew that they must continue their former activities – and today they do.
The Neff family sits on a bench with Bonnie by their side

Gifts given; love exchanged.  Companions meant to be!