Friday, January 16, 2015

A Boy and His Special Dog

By: Jim Zuegel

My daughter Devon and I originally raised Oakland as puppy raisers for Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). Oakland ended up being career-changed and since our teenage son Jeffrey is on the autism spectrum, we considered looked for an Autism Service Dog organization for Oakland. Paws As Loving Support (PALS) was an organization willing to take a career-change; plus, it also happened to be a program located within a reasonable distance from our home. Nancy Pierson, the President/CEO, founded PALS and the Service PALS program to help children with autism and their families to assist with daily needs, both in the home and community. Nancy was flexible and very accommodating to schedule visits to our home so she could learn more about Jeffrey and his special needs, develop a program specifically for Oakland and our family to meet Jeffrey’s needs, and then successfully take us through training and the certification process.  

Oakland (black Lab) sitting in a photo booth with Jeffery, who is looking at him (both are smiling),

My son Jeffrey benefits from being able to bring Oakland everywhere as his service dog; to paraphrase his big sister, Devon, “Jeffrey is calmer because he can bring a comforting piece of home with him.” This is important because Jeffrey previously had severe behavioral outbursts in unfamiliar public situations or darted away without warning. In public, Jeffrey is now connected to Oakland with a harness and therefore cannot “disappear”; furthermore, Jeffrey holds a leash with his left hand and has the responsibility of being mindful of Oakland’s safety and well-being, as well as his own (with me holding a separate leash to supervise both of them). Since Jeffrey has delayed speech development, he works with Oakland to improve his verbal skills by giving timely and appropriate commands; Jeffrey also has learned and uses commands to practice being responsible, for example: feeding Oakland, and putting him into a “curb” position when he approaches or tries to cross a street. One of the last things Jeffrey does every night is to have Oakland lie on or against his legs in bed; this has a calming effect and helps Jeffrey to fall asleep. Thank you to GDB and PALS for our special dog Oakland.

See Oakland and Jeffrey in action in this YouTube video:

To learn more about Paws As Loving Support (PALS) Assistance Dogs visit: 



Friday, January 9, 2015

Newshounds - Guide Dogs for the Blind in the News!

Robinson Students of Texas to Socialize Guide Dogs as Part of FFA Class:

Robinson Students of Texas Will Train Future Guide Dogs for Next 18 Months:

BUZZFEED: 19 Puppies on First Day of School: 

Top 14 of 2014: Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, Featuring GDB Guide Dog Aziza: 

CBS KPIX 5 Local: Where’s Roberta?

Service Animal Fraud. Problem? Featuring GDB graduate Camille Jassny:

Blind Vet's Guide Dog Temporarily Banned From VA Hospital:

PARADE Magazine: Sully Sullenberger: Be the Captain of Your Own Healthy Life:

PARADE Magazine: The Giving Season: 

Joan Rivers' Will Designates Portion Of $150 Million Fortune To Charities, Including Guide Dogs for the Blind: 

CNN: Hero Dog Saves Two People: 

BUZZFEED: 29 Dogs Who Will Make you Want to Do Better:

Service Dogs Helping Veterans with Physical and Mental Disabilities:

Las Cruces Students to Train Future Guide Dogs for the Blind: 

Vote for San Francisco's Favorite Charity: Top 7 Finalists: 

MARIN IJ “Movers & Shakers”: Oakland Man Promoted as Guide Dogs for the Blind's Director of Philanthropy: 

Meet the SFO Wag Brigade (including a GDB black Lab Career Change):

GDB Board Member Deborah Kendrick Commentary: Independence is Having Control Over One’s Plan, Seeing It Through:

A Lifeline for the Blind: Flagstaff Volunteers Helping CocoPups:

Advocates for Blind, Deaf Want More from Apple (features GDB graduate Jonathan Lyens):

A Click from the Start: Karen Pryor Academy and Guide Dogs for the Blind Team Together to Bring Positive Training to Puppy Raising: 

MARIN IJ “Movers & Shakers”: Guide Dogs for the Blind Appoints New Chief Financial Officer:

Soquel ROP Students Train Puppies for Future as Guide Dogs: 

GDB Graduaute and Blind Texas A&M Student Chimes in on Campus Navigation:

Diagnosis Leads to Amazing Friendship, Running Adventures for GDB Graduate Becky Andrews and Friend: 

Play it by Ear: Baseball for the Blind (featuring GDB graduate):

DoveLewis: Animal Assisted Therapy & Education: 

MARIN IJ "Movers & Shakers": San Rafael's Guide Dogs for the Blind Appoints New Director of Information Technology: 

Friday, January 2, 2015

“Pins for Pups” Rolls in Dollars to Support Guides and Puppy Raisers

The Rocky Rovers GDB alumni chapter in Colorado held its Third Annual Pins for Pups and have raised nearly $6,000 over the past three years to support Colorado GDB alumni and puppy raisers and national Guide Dogs for the Blind projects.

Seventeen GDB alumni, puppy raisers and their friends and family came out to Crown Bowling Lanes in Denver to participate in our chapter fund raiser. We had a ton of fun as well!  Two lanes were set up with rails for those folks who were totally blind to be able to find their way to their lane and hopefully send the ball down on the correct lane.

Members from the Rocky Rovers GDB alumni chapter pose with their guides (in the background are the bowling lanes).

Our guide dogs and puppies-in-training sat patiently while their handlers rolled down the lanes in hopes of winning prizes for the highest overall score. The top award for guide handler went to our chapter president, Andre Van Hall. Michael Brobst won the prize for highest score for the puppy raisers. The grand prize for raising the most funds by a guide handler was a weekend night for two at the Hyatt, Downtown Denver and was won by Richard Faubion. The top prize for the puppy raiser who raised the most money was Barb Wells.

Funds raised by Pins for Pups, as well as special donations from Colorado alumni, puppy raisers and their friends, were donated to GDB to support the new dorm facility at the San Rafael campus, $1,545. Funds have also been used to buy two harnesses, $700 total, to honor two local puppy raiser clubs who have raisers active in the Rocky Rovers group: Have Paws, Will Travel and Liberty on Leashes.

With over $2,900 in our chapter account at the end of 2014, these funds will help underwrite our annual Holiday Party; $500 is planned to be donated to GDB for the new Whelping Complex in San Rafael; and a $500 scholarship will be offered to a guide dog handler who would like to attend the Portland Alumni Reunion in 2015.

We request that any Colorado guide user who has a request for support to please contact the Rocky Rover’s leadership by calling 720-207-8362. Our GDB Colorado Rocky Rovers chapter continues to have wonderful social events while raising money to make a difference for folks impacted by vision loss across Colorado and the United States!