By: Sharon Gitchell
My daughters Grace and Giordan were recently honored by the town of Danville, CA with the Award of Merit. This award was given by the Danville Town Council and Mayor Newell Arnerich at their annual town award and mayoral installation ceremony.
|(left to right) Giordan Gitchell, Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich, Grace Gitchell, and guide dog puppy Vidal (yellow Lab).|
Our family's involvement with Guide Dogs For the Blind began when our oldest daughter Grace was in 2nd grade. She would spend much of her recesses at Montair Elementary School around her science teacher's (GDB Puppy Raising leader Leslie Graham) guide dog puppies or one of the school's therapy dogs, often walking/exercising them and giving them love and attention. At a Montair school assembly, Grace learned all about GDB and what it means to raise a guide dog puppy. When the GDB San Ramon Valley Guide Dog Club was formed four years ago, Grace begged our family to join as puppy sitters and we have been members who attend the required weekly training meetings ever since. Whenever our family is asked to puppy sit one of the puppies in training, Grace takes charge, cleans her room, and prepares a safe place for the puppy to visit. During any visit, she is responsible for feeding, cleaning up, and practicing training sessions so that the guide dog puppy knows that whomever they are with and wherever they go, the rules are the same. Grace has been responsible for several guide dog puppies ranging from age nine weeks to 17 months old.
Grace's sister, Giordan has also played a large role in the San Ramon Valley Guide Dog Club. Giordan was six years-old when we joined the club, too young to actually work one of the guide dog puppies in training. Since she was a bundle of energy, the club leader put her to work as the club assistant. As the club assistant, Giordan is responsible for passing out materials like pens and papers, cookies, equipment we use for training, etc. She also helps set up and clean up, always cheerful doing all the tasks that the leaders ask. We really appreciate the fact that she runs around at the end of every meeting with a dust mop, getting all the hair that 10-15 dogs can shed in an hour. Now that Giordan is 10, she is a regular member and can puppy sit on her own and work with a guide dog puppy at the meetings.
I am proud of the commitment that both of my girls have made to the San Ramon Valley Guide Dog Club for the past four years. They have spent hundreds of hours at meetings, club outings, fundraising for the club with their own lemonade stands, and puppy sitting on weekends and school vacations. They love being part of this club not only because they love each and every dog, but they know they are helping people in their own small way. Their goal is to raise a puppy of their own when they get to high school and we look forward to that as a family.