My Most Memorable Moment With My Guide Dog - Guide Dogs of America

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My Most Memorable Moment With My Guide Dog - Guide Dogs of America

Guide Dogs of America


    VOLUME 21

    Number 2

    Summer 2006

My Most Memorable Moment With My Guide Dog

    In the last issue of Partners, we asked guide dog users to explain how having a GDA guide dog changes their lives. In this issue, we ask them to tell us their favorite the guide dog memory.

    Amazing Guides

    Frank Ibarra about Jake:

    “One time, Jake and I got off a bus to catch a train. I heard the door closing sound signaling that the train was leaving. I couldn‟t afford to miss the train, so I told Jake to

    run. Jake did a great job of getting us through the crowd quickly without knocking anyone over. And we just slipped through the doors before they shut. I was so amazed, I knelt on the floor and hugged Jake. He caught me by surprise and gave me a very sloppy kiss right on the mouth!”

    Dominic Martinelli about Angel:

    “When I visited family in Falconer, NY, I worried that Angel would have trouble in an unfamiliar area. I couldn‟t have been more wrong. She guided me around the community and the house we were staying in flawlessly. As great as a white cane can be, a guide dog is 1,000 times better!”

Nikki Jeffords about Nia:

    “Several years ago, my guide dog Nia and I went to New York City to meet up with our long time friends, Susie and her guide dog Tiki. None of us had ever been there before. We had a blast! We learned the subway system, we walked all over the City, feeling safe and confident. It was a fantastic trip that I know would not have taken place without Nia and Tiki.”

    Luella Knapp about Maddy:

    “My most memorable recollection is the first time we attended a new church and when I met the pastor after the service, he was surprised. He said he was unaware that there had been a dog in the congregation. Maddy had been so good and quiet, the pastor never noticed her.”

Sharlene Wills about Shyla:

    “There are so many great memories. She has saved my life more than once. She has faithfully and competently guided me over rough nature trails. But the memory that means the most to me is when Shyla and I walked 62 miles in a 3-day walk-a-thon to raise money for breast cancer research. Shyla did such a great job as a guide dog, and as a spokesperson for what giving and helping is all about!”

    Life Savers

    Mark Hanohano about Houston:

    “One day, walking home from work, we were passing a construction site when Houston stopped at a driveway. After a few seconds with no sound of danger, I told him to go forward. He wouldn‟t move. I was about to insist when suddenly a car came zooming out of the driveway in reverse. Without Houston, I would have walked right into that car. And this is just one of the many times Houston has kept me out of harm‟s way.”

    Debbie Paul about Fremont:

    “Every day, we go down a wheelchair ramp around the side of the building and cross an

    alley. But one day, Fremont blocked me and wouldn‟t let me pass him. It turns out that someone had parked a fork truck with the tines at shin height at the bottom of the ramp. I would have walked right into the lift and hurt myself. Now Fremont is very cautious every time we approach that alley.”

    Gerry Leary about Midknight:

    “I was walking to work one day past a site where they were remodeling. There was a crane lifting a stack of dry wall up to the second story. Midknight wouldn‟t let me go

    near it. Two passersby tried to tell me it was okay, but Midknight kept pulling me back. I thought he was wrong, but he pulled me hard away from the scene. At that moment, the dry wall slipped out of its tether and fell. Sadly, the two people who tried to tell me it was safe were injured. For two hours all I could do was thank God for Midknight.”


    It‟s not surprising that many people‟s most powerful memories of life with their guide dogs are about how effective and protective they are. But living with a guide dog isn‟t all

    about work and danger. One of the great benefits of having a guide dog is that they are such great companions and personalities.

    Pat Franklin about Kate:

    “I‟ll never forget our first visit to Disneyland. Kate‟s favorite ride was „It‟s a Small World.‟ She sat up on the seat next to me looking at the Children of the World. We were there from 10 in the morning till 10 at night. Kate maneuvered me through the crowds without hesitation. We had so much fun!”

Sharon Hutton about Kodak:

    “My most memorable moment with Kodak was when we were in Las Vegas and he saw a person dressed as a snowman. He went nuts. He wasn‟t sure what it was. When I took him up close, he decided it was okay.”

    Mark Grimes about Aslan:

    “Aslan adores the ladies. This is not a bad thing, but sometimes it gets me in trouble. If we sit anywhere, Aslan will find a lady and start his “Hey, don‟t you think I‟m cute act.” Next thing I know, I‟m either engaged in a friendly conversation, or being chewed out for

    my „underhanded tactics,‟ or „cowardice for using my dog as bait.‟ My wife thinks it‟s all very funny. To me, it‟s a small price to pay for such a great guide dog!”

Talking To Your Dog’s Doc

    Imagine if you couldn‟t speak with your doctor, so you brought in a translator, but it turned out the translator could speak the doctor‟s language, but not yours. That‟s the situation of your favorite pet when you take him or her to the veterinarian. It would be so much simpler if your dog could just tell the doctor where it hurts.

    Fortunately, a good vet can tell a lot about what‟s wrong by examining your pet and listening carefully to your description of symptoms. But you can help your vet and put your pet on the road to good health more quickly if you follow these tips: Know your pet.

    When you know your dog or cat‟s normal patterns of sleep, activity, eating, relieving, etc., you‟ll notice changes and be better able to describe them to your vet.

    Seek care promptly.

     Just as with people, most medical problems in pets are more easily treated if they are caught early. Trust your instincts. If you suspect something‟s wrong with your pet, you‟re probably right.

    Routine Exams.

    Make sure your pet sees a vet at least yearly. Routine checkups are especially important for young animals and pets over the age of seven.

    Speak Up.

    Jeanette daSilva, DVM, stresses that you talk to your vet. “Good communication is crucial. Ask questions and become informed about your pet‟s condition so that both you

    and the doctor are working towards the same goals together.”

    Follow these tips and you‟ll help keep your beloved pet healthy. And don‟t forget to build a good relationship with your vet by being on time for appointments! At GDA, we rely on many wonderful vets for the care of our dogs. Special thanks to: Dr. Steven Bilbrey, Dr. Dana Bleifer, Dr. Bloom, Dr. Jeanette daSilva, The Doctors at

Animal Specialty Group, Dr. Michael Huber, Dr. Michael Lesser, Dr. Lisa Pope, Dr.

    Stearns, Dr. Gary Uyeno, Dr. Kirk Wendelburg


    Published by:

    Guide Dogs of America

     13445 Glenoaks Blvd.

    Sylmar, CA 91342


    818/362-6870 fax




    Lorri Bernson


     Jay Bormann

    Rhonda Bissell

    Meri Forman

    Judi Gomez

    Andi Krusoe

    Kellee Matthews

    Debbie Sands

Partners in Trust

    The following Partners in Trust Society members recently informed us that they have

    named Guide Dogs of America as a beneficiary in their will or trust. We are very

    grateful to them for their thoughtful generosity. Anonymous (3) Lois Feller

     Pam Jones Judith McCulloch

     Carol Settimo

    If you have named GDA in your will or trust, or would like information about how to do

    so, please call Rhonda Bissell at (818) 833-6432.

    Five Keys to Being a Successful Guide Dog Partner Because many friends of GDA are curious as to how a blind person qualifies for a guide

    dog, we thought we‟d review the qualifications the blind person must meet before

    receiving a guide dog.


    Most newly blind people have emotional roads to travel before they accept their vision loss and are ready to rebuild their independence.


    Because the supply of guide dogs is very limited, and the breeding and training of guide dogs is expensive, every effort is made to partner a guide dog with a blind individual who is convinced that a guide dog can improve their quality of life through enhanced mobility.


    Applicants must show that they are mentally and emotionally fit enough to accept the responsibility of caring for a guide dog and can provide a good and safe home for the dog. They must also show that they are physically fit enough to complete the challenging training period and manage the day-to-responsibilities of having a guide dog.


    Every effort is made to partner a guide dog with a blind individual who feels certain that a guide dog can improve their quality of life through enhanced mobility.

     Desire for Independence

    There is work involved in learning to use a guide dog, and a commitment to care for the dog for as much as a decade. To be a successful guide dog user, the blind person must be highly motivated to become independent, and must truly want to have a dog in his or her life.

    If you'd like more information or know someone who is interested in getting a guide dog, call Andi Krusoe at (818) 833-6428.

In Memory

    Guide Dogs of America has recently lost some wonderful friends and guide dogs. Friend

    • Sandra Robinson, wife of longtime staff member, James Robinson


     Fred Loehner Class #300

    Guide Dogs

     Annie Class #310

     Beau Class #308

     Clancy In-home

     Hero Class #298

     Isaac In-home

     Lilly Class #319

     London Class #293

Outlaw Class #306

     Rosie In-home

     Tia Class #294

     Zen Class #296

Cleaning Up for GDA

    All of the proceeds from the sale of these high-quality, 100% Egyptian cotton kitchen

    towels will benefit GDA's work. You can count on lint-free drying with these generous

    17" x 31" towels. The cost is $15 for set of two plus $5.00 shipping & handling for up to

    two sets. See box below for more

    ordering details. A total of 14 breeds plus Puppies & Kittens are available.

Kitchen Towel Order Form

    Mail this entire form with your payment in the enclosed envelope.

     Item Quantity Price Subtotal

     Bichon Frises $15.00 / set

     Black Lab (photo C) $15.00 / set

     Boston Terrier $15.00 / set

     Chihuahua $15.00 / set

     Chocolate Lab $15.00 / set

     Corgie $15.00 / set

     Dachshund $15.00 / set

     German Shepherd (photo D) $15.00 / set

     Golden Retriever (photo A) $15.00 / set

     Kittens (photo B) $15.00 / set

     Poodle $15.00 / set

     Pug $15.00 / set

     Puppies (photo E) $15.00 / set

     Rottweiler $15.00 / set

     Westie $15.00 / set

     Yorkie $15.00 / set

     *Shipping and Handling


Payment Information:

     Credit Card VISA Mastercard Discover Expiration Date: ______/_______

    Card Number:


     Check (Please make your check payable to Guide Dogs of America.) Name Telephone (______)


    City State ZIP

*Shipping & Handling

$5.00 shipping & handling for up to two sets. Call GDA at

    (818) 833-6474 to:

     obtain shipping cost if ordering more than two sets

     get answers to any questions

Announcing the First Annual Partners Dinner

    On Saturday August 12th, Guide Dogs of America will hold its first annual Partners Dinner, and you‟re invited. The event will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. The festivities will begin with a tour of Air Force One, followed by a silent auction, and then dinner. The gala event will honor Pam and Bob English, and Sylvia and Charlie Hall, two of GDA‟s dedicated volunteer and puppy raiser couples.

    Tickets are $150 per person, or $1,500 for a table of 10. Sponsorships from $1,000 to $30,000 are also available.

    All proceeds support GDA, so please call Debbie Sands at 818-833-6433 to make your reservation before July 28, 2006 and help us make this first Partners Dinner an unqualified success.

Late Breaking News!

    Top Dogs: Suzanne & Michael Tennenbaum!

    We recently received the “Top Dog” Sponsorship for the First Annual Partners Dinner, from Suzanne and Michael Tennenbaum. While running their investment firm, Tennenbaum Capital Partners, LLC, and donating to support GDA, Suzanne and Michael have also raised several guide dog puppies for GDA.

    Thanks to these wonderful friends of GDA they are Top Dogs in our book!

3rd Annual GDA Ride for Guides a Success

    On the morning of Sunday, May 21st, the sun wouldn‟t cooperate, and dark clouds

    threatened to put a damper on our 3rd Annual Ride for Guides. But die-hard riders who wanted to have some fun and raise money for guide dogs came out in droves anyway, and made the day a vrooooming success! The riders began the Poker Run at GDA and were rewarded for the 80-mile round trip with a great BBQ back at our campus. We also held a wide range of great raffles to give riders the best possible chance for a winning day. Thank you to all the riders who refused to be scared away by a few clouds and made this a successful Ride for Guides event!

GDA Employee Update

    Welcome to GDA‟s newest employees!

     Steve Cohan Outreach Director

     Kim Kortlander Receptionist

Brooke Patterson Kennel Tech

Special Congratulations

    to our newest Licensed Trainer Wendy Roof! She's been working at GDA as an apprentice trainer for the past three years preparing for the rigorous California license exam. We're proud of her accomplishment and welcome her as GDA's newest Licensed Guide Dog Trainer.

Wish List

    We‟re wishing and hoping that some of our friends will be able to donate some of the following items.

    For our Dormitory

     Braille Games (available at

     Portable AM/FM/Cassette/ CD players

    For our Grooming Needs

     Trimming Blades #4, #7 and #10 and Attachment Combs 1/2”, 1/3”, 1/4” (to fit Oster clipper #A-5)

    For our Kennels

     Rectangular Quilted Pet Throw [48” x 58”] Available at Costco (“Kirkland Signature” Brand)

     Toys (always needed!): Kongs, hard rubber toys, sterilized bones, compressed rawhide bones, Nylabones. (All in LARGE sizes)

    Special Wishes

    If your generosity inspires you to contribute one of these items, please call Lorri Bernson at GDA, (818) 833-6431. We know you‟d want your gift to meet our needs.

     Commercial Outdoor Heaters

     Industrial-size Coin Counter (for all the “Pennies for Puppies” we receive from school children)

Graduation Class #350

    Seated from left to right

    Rande Lomax and Romer; Kelly Bailey and Pippin; Gerry Mack and Bella; Dave Wermuth and Kosi; Elyse Allen and Lila; Julie Cantrell and Cohen; Linda Lueck and Belle; Judy Seth and Othello; Melody Scott and Lady

    Instructors (standing from left to right): Bob Wendler; Trina Began; Steve Burkman Puppy Raisers (not pictured): Romer The Bocian Family; Pippin Lily Lo; Bella The

    Harris Family; Kosi Sherry & Jim Miller; Lila The Morton Family; Cohen The

Schmid Family; Belle Linda Lueck (also the graduate); Othello Judy Kovaric; Lady

    The New Family

    In-home graduate:

    Anita van der Linden and Hannah. Puppy Raisers: Janet Madden and Michael Eula.

Cheering On Our Puppies!

    Our puppy raisers are always looking for opportunities to socialize our dogs and expose them to new situations. The Emerald Nuts 5K Run/Walk that follows the start of the L.A. Marathon, and the huge crowd of happy fans who gather for the event, presented a wonderful learning occasion for the pups. So on Sunday, March 19th, the 23,000 people who ran the Los Angeles Marathon were followed shortly behind by five GDA puppies with their puppy raisers.

    Our team began at the Convention Center and when they passed by the review stand, the announcer, who had no advance information on our team, noticed the puppies‟ yellow

    jackets and said, “Let‟s hear it for guide dogs.” Our walkers added “… of America!”

    Immediately, the large crowd began to chant, “Let‟s hear it for Guide Dogs of America!”

    Our well-behaved puppies got many opportunities to meet new people. And they learned about behaving in a crowded, confusing situation. They also had fun, walking down the middle of the street, and impressed all who saw them. Puppy raisers who took part also had a great time and are hoping other puppy raisers and GDA friends will join them next year and turn this into an annual event.

Puppy Corner

    We‟re proud to welcome 37 newborn Labradors and Golden Retrievers who will soon begin their guide dog training by going home with a puppy raiser. If you would like to be a puppy raiser for one of these future guide dogs and live on the west coast, call Louise Henderson, GDA‟s puppy coordinator at (818) 833-6441.

     1/29/06 5yellow Labradors

     2/2/06 3yellow & black Labradors

     2/26/06 7yellow & black Labradors

     3/6/06 9yellow & black Labradors

     3/12/06 5yellow & black Labradors

     5/11/06 8Golden Retrievers

HELLO! When you call GDA…

    GDA has a new telephone system that has greatly improved our communications with our colleagues, graduates, volunteers, sponsors, vendors and friends. Each GDA staff member has their own direct telephone number which are posted on our website at You can also listen to a directory of the new numbers by calling (818) 362-5834.

Taking a Paws for Thanks

    In addition to the many friends who make regular contributions by mail or payroll deduction, GDA is grateful to those who conduct special events or donate goods or services to help us carry out our work.

    Doggy Cam

    For years, our training staff has wondered what the world looks like from a guide dog‟s

    vantage point. Now we know, thanks to a wonderful donation by a generous puppy raiser (who wishes to remain anonymous), who purchased a small video camera and designed a special harness to mount the camera directly above a dog‟s head. Director of Operations

    Steve Burkman describes the scene through the doggy cam, “The world seen from the dog‟s perspective is much different. It seems to be much bigger and more complex. The street crossings, straight lines of travel, viewing other animals, and everything else are more intimidating from the dog‟s level.” We‟re grateful for the chance to better understand the challenges our guide dogs face!

    Thank You for the Thank You!

    Thanks go to Cathy and Michael Barry, whose daughter Melissa received guide dog Richter last year, for featuring the wonderful story of Melissa and Richter in their personal holiday card. The proud parents boasted of their daughter's newfound independence and expressed their gratitude to GDA including a request that family and friends support Guide Dogs of America. The response to this thoughtful gesture was tremendous. We are very grateful to the Barrys and to their family and friends for their generosity.

    Kids for Pups

    Our special thanks to the children of Chaminade Middle School in Northridge, Calif. who once again chose GDA as their community service project. After GDA puppy raisers visited with 20 puppies in training, the kids held a drive to gather donations for the pups. The final tally was an incredible 229 dog toys, 125 dog bones, 22 grooming tools, 104 collars and leashes, 67 treats, and 43 dog bowls! Thank you to all the students of Chaminade Middle school!

    Thanks to all who donate, volunteer or raise money for GDA. We are so grateful for your dedication and hard work!!

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