Guide Dog News
2011, Issue #2
“Life is a chronicle of friendships. Friends create the world anew each day. Without their loving care, courage would not suffice to keep hearts strong for life.” —Helen Keller
From the President‟s Desk
If you haven‟t already visited our campuses, maybe it‟s time you took a little trip…
One of the marvels of working at Guide Dogs for the Blind is our diversity in people, dogs, and locations. We have a tremendous work force made up of great staff and volunteers, and we have phenomenal Labs and Goldens, along with the Golden/Lab crosses. We also have two great campuses, one in California and the other in Oregon.
Our California campus has been around the longest and is the hub of many major activities. All of our breeding takes place in San Rafael, and we coordinate our puppy raising, administrative, and graduate services from this location. The California site has been in place since 1947 and has held more than 700 graduations with thousands of visitors sitting among our majestic redwoods, witnessing the ceremony. The park-like grounds enjoy plenty of sunshine.
Six hundred forty-one and a half miles north, nestled among the beautiful firs and pines east of Portland, Ore., is the tiny town of Boring. Yes, that really is the moniker of that village. However, as a friend of mine often says, “We bring excitement to Boring!”
From that idyllic location, we have trained thousands of dogs and graduated more than 200 classes. The Oregon campus is punctuated with bird song and the occasional bark of a dog calling out for supper. It is delightfully serene. A winding path dubbed “The Oregon Trail” is the perfect place for a pleasant walk, especially in the fall when blazing red, yellow and orange leaves crackle underfoot.
During a recent trip to the campus, I was asked by some staff if I'd like to join them for lunch. Everything I'd heard about cloudy skies and rainy days in Oregon were exemplified when one of the women looked up in the sky and said these four words: “Oh, wow! The sun!”
I just got back from another visit to the Oregon campus a few days ago, and the weather was beautiful. The air was crisp in the morning, the grounds smelled rich with new life, and the sun was shining.
Guide Dogs for the Blind enjoys many blessings: our students, our dogs, our staff and volunteers. And two beautiful campuses. Visit them both. It is a very special experience.
Acting President and CEO
; California campus
; Oregon campus
Letter from Japan
Dr. Kentaro Doi does research for Medtronic, a U.S. medical device manufacturer with offices in Tokyo. He was living in New York City when he came to GDB to get his first dog, Heiress. “She
did very well in that chaotic environment for seven and a half years,” he said, “and for two more
years when we moved to Tokyo.”
But when the time came for Heiress to retire, Ken became very concerned. The wait to receive a
guide dog from a school in Japan would be several years. He contacted GDB and asked if there was any possibility he could return for a new dog. He was accepted and trained with a beautiful black Labrador named Colleen, graduating in November of 2009.
At the graduation, Ken expressed his gratitude: “GDB came up with this lovely creature and the raisers filled her with love and care. She came back to GDB for training. Now, she will be guiding me to my workplace. And I ask, how can I give back? I believe my research for people with heart disease is my way to give back. This will be my life. Always by my side will be this great partner, Colleen.”
Colleen „s raiser, Casey Robinson of Santa Cruz, Calif., beamed, calling her “the smartest dog I‟ve ever known.”
Today, Colleen is truly a member of the Doi family. Ken writes, “As Colleen comes back from
work everyday, I wipe her feet and take off her harness and the leash. She'll run, or almost jump, to her bed and start chewing on a Nylabone. I think that this is the most enjoyable time for her other than her meal time. She usually stays quietly in her bed, or tries to cuddle between my wife and me.”
When the news of the recent earthquakes in Japan reached us, we contacted Ken to see if they were all right, and he responded with the following:
On the day of the giant disaster in Japan, just when the ground started shaking, my wife
was on her way back home from picking up a doggy birthday cake for Colleen „s third
Colleen and I were in the office, which is about five miles away from home, when the
building started to shake violently. Parts of ceiling and wall panels fell to the floor. Colleen
was very calm under my desk as usual, but to avoid falling objects, I had squeeze in next
to her, even though the space was quite tight. Since the quake was quite big, I thought
that Tokyo was the epicenter.
After a few minutes, things started to calm down. I checked the Internet and found all the
trains in Tokyo had stopped operation and there was no clue as to when they would
resume. Because of my night blindness, I had to make a choice between walking back
home right away or staying in the office until the trains started to run again. I decided to
With some help from the GPS system on my cell phone, Colleen and I found our way
home. Colleen did a great job, even though the street was overflowing with people. I was
quite worried about my wife. The cell phone communication was tightly regulated after
the quake, so I could not reach her. After two hours of walking, I was so relieved to find
her safe back at home.
It was then I started to learn about the extent of the disaster in the northern part of Japan.
My parents-in-law live quite close to the Sendai Airport which was demolished by the
tsunami. Of course, the cell and landline phones didn't work. After several hours, our call
finally got through and we learned they were safe.
We were the very fortunate ones. So many people lost their lives and are still suffering.
Damage to the nuclear plant is another big issue. It will surely take a long time to get
back our “normal” days, but my country, including Colleen and myself, will be doing
whatever possible to overcome this disaster.
As you can see from the story above, Colleen is doing PERFECT!
Pinot & Pups Wine Gala
GDB supporters came out in force in early May for our fourth Pinot & Pups Wine Gala in Portland, Ore. Held at the Portland Art Museum, the lively evening had guests bidding on both silent and live auction lots while sipping fine Oregon and Washington wines, enjoying a gourmet meal, and as always, getting loads of puppy love! Auctioneer David Reynolds led the charge during the live
auction, where a special paddle raise brought in more than $116,000 to support veterinary care. The evening raised more than $213,000 total; in addition to the paddle raise, the remaining proceeds will go toward the costs of training students with their new Guide Dogs at our Oregon campus.
Many thanks to our generous sponsors—Soul Mate Sponsor: Key Bank. Companion Sponsor:
US Bank-Charitable Services Group. Buddy Sponsors: NW Natural, Umpqua Bank. Friend Sponsors: Herman Charitable Foundation, Pacific Power, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, Streimer Sheet Metal Works Inc., Union Bank, West Coast Bank.
; Board Member Ruth Ann Dodson
; Firefighter Orlando Gomez promoting a live auction lot
; Dr. Laurie Christensen celebrating a live auction lot win
; Jeannie and Jeff Gretz
; Jim Logerquist giving a thumbs-up
Labs Live at Andrei’s II
The Orange County Friends Committee of Guide Dogs for the Blind hosted a fantastic luncheon at Andrei‟s Restaurant in Irvine, Calif., in April. One hundred and forty GDB supporters came to enjoy fabulous gourmet food and wine, and meet our dogs and puppies. The keynote speaker was our Acting President, Morgan Watkins, with his Guide Dog Will. The highlight of the day was
a “stork” delivery where puppy Sweeny met his new puppy raisers. The event raised more than $33,000, which will go toward providing a Lifelong Team Promoter sponsorship for one of their very own committee members, Linda Becker, who received a new Guide Dog in May.
; Orange County Friends Committee member and event sponsor Natalia Olenicoff .
Save the Date!
; Dogs with Hearts of Gold: Reno, Nev.: September 11, 2011
; Canine Heroes Wine Auction: Napa, Calif.: October 1, 2011
; Oregon Fall Luncheon: Portland, Ore.: November 4, 2011
; Festive Holiday Luncheon: San Francisco, Calif: December 7, 2011
Be sure to Like us on Facebook!
Go Nuts for Goughnuts! Your dog will love the new Goughnuts Stick; you‟ll love its
lifetime guarantee! $18 at guidedogs.com/shop
GDB Training Secrets
Calling a “Time Out” can work as well with dogs as it does with children. If your dog becomes notably distracted, here‟s what to do:
1. Stop and bring your dog close to your leg via the leash. Hold him there for about 10
2. Disengage. Offer no input (positive or negative). Nothing he desires is available to him:
interaction from you, a food reward, access to the distraction, etc.
3. Ask your dog calmly to resume walking. Once past the distraction, give him a food reward
for choosing to resist temptation.
This technique can help promote calm behavior in your dog and will demonstrate to him the value of ignoring situations that are naturally stimulating.
Norah Hamilton Straus Donors’ Circle Donor Profile:
Bill and Debra Gershen
How do you spell “commitment”? For Bill and Debra Gershen of Rancho Santa Fe, California, commitment to Guide Dogs for the Blind is more than just a word—it takes a variety of forms.
Like many of our supporters, Bill and Debra love dogs. “Our 13-year-old Standard Poodle is
named Mocha Lola Latte. We just call her Lola,” Debra said. “And then, there‟s General
Montgomery—better known as Monty, who‟s 5. His breeder is English and Monty loves filling the
role of an English General. They are both very smart, always happy and we love having them as part of our family. Old dogs can be cloudy-eyed and grey of muzzle or wheezy, lazy and lumpy, but we believe old dogs are the best dogs, especially when they give you a hug.”
Six years ago, Bill read an article about the work of GDB, and was so impressed, he mailed a donation. The Gershens were invited to attend the “graduation” of a local GDB puppy about to begin its formal training as a Guide Dog. “Seeing the raiser‟s devotion and tears, we were
hooked!” Debra said. “The next step was to host a fundraiser at our home. We had the pleasure of introducing 60 people to the impressive work of GDB. They were captivated by Michael Hingson talking about his escape from the World Trade Center with his Guide Dog Roselle
The couple strongly believes in philanthropy and volunteerism. Debra has served on the Boards of Lifeline Center for Child Development, the San Diego Museum of Art and Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. Bill serves on the Boards of the U.S.O., the Telluride Foundation, the U.S.S. Midway Museum and the Fairbanks Ranch Association.
Debra was invited to join GDB‟s Board of Directors in 2008, and together with her husband, have introduced numerous friends and family to our mission through GDB events, such as the Canine Heroes Wine Auction in Napa Valley, the Pinot & Pups Wine Gala in Portland, Ore., Orange County Luncheon events, and the recent event in Santa Barbara featuring actress and GDB supporter Betty White.
“GDB‟s incredibly well-trained dogs enable people who are blind to feel a new freedom,” Debra said. Recently, the couple endorsed our world-class training by becoming our first String Sponsor, underwriting the formal training of a string of dogs. A “string” is a group of dogs being trained by a
team of instructors to become working Guide Dogs. “As a String Sponsor, we‟re able to follow the
growth and training of these special dogs, be photographed with the string and join in the graduation ceremony. It brings us great joy to be a String Sponsor. It‟s our way of saying „Thank you, GDB, for all that you do.‟”
; Debra and Bill Gershen with Lola and Monty
Learning About Blindness:
What Do You Know About Diabetic Eye Diseases?
What You Need to Know to Help Prevent Sight Loss Due to Diabetes
Diabetes occurs when the body cannot or does not control high levels of glucose. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease, kidney failure, and amputations. It can also cause diabetic eye disease, which can lead to vision loss or blindness.
Diabetic eye disease includes—
; Diabetic retinopathy (damage to the small blood vessels in the retina)
Early detection and timely treatment can reduce the risk of blindness. A comprehensive eye exam measures vision, checks for refractive errors (such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism), and includes dilating the pupils to detect eye disease. A dilated eye exam allows an eye care professional (optometrist or ophthalmologist) to check for signs of disease.
What You Need to Know
; Some eye diseases do not have symptoms.
; If you have diabetes, you should see an eye care professional once a year.
; The dilated eye exam is short, simple, and painless: the eye care professional will put two
eye drops in each eye to open, or dilate, the pupil so they can evaluate whether there is
any damage to the lens, cornea, retina or other parts of the eye.
The longer someone has diabetes, the more at risk they are of getting diabetic retinopathy due to bleeding, detachment of the retina, or presence of abnormal blood vessels in the retina. There are often no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. There is no pain, and vision may not change until the disease becomes severe.
Vision loss may be prevented by finding and treating the disease in its early stages. Laser surgery and appropriate follow-up care can reduce the risk of blindness by 90 percent.
(Courtesy of the National Eye Institute: http://www.nei.nih.gov)
; Stephanie Zabitz, a native of Pennsylvania, received her master‟s degree in special
education from San Francisco State University, and completed her undergraduate degree
in marine biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her past work includes
tagging sharks with Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, tracking killer whales from a
plane over the Monterey Bay with National Geographic, and teaching young students
about marine plankton with O‟Neill Sea Odyssey. She has also been a veterinary
technician. Stephanie currently lives in San Francisco with her partner, Spencer, and 3-
year-old Australian Cattle Dog Cross, Pete. She enjoys backpacking, hiking, traveling,
surfing, sailing, and playing the piano and pipe organ.
; Angie Landry Ruiz, a New England native, attended the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst majoring in behavioral ecology and theatre design. She became a puppy raiser
and later was hired as an instructor at Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation. Angie now lives in
Larkspur, California, with her husband, her career change German Shepherd, Owen, and
her Labrador, Lola. In her spare time, she enjoys riding and training her horse, Mojave,
and is an avid movie buff.
News of Our Graduates
; Hy Cohen, author of Layla‟s Law (protecting Guide Dogs from attack by uncontrolled
dogs) has been appointed to the City of Lodi Animal Commission that deals with anima-
related policies and ordinances. Hy sends regards and wags from his Guide Dog
; Dawn Kelly with guide Marius was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Rhode Island in April for her
role in advocating for the disabled community. She submitted a program titled “Improving
Emergency Preparedness to Include People with Special Health Care Needs.” In addition
to appearing at events and making presentations, she will attend the national pageant
this fall in Michigan.
; In time for the tenth anniversary of 9-11, Michael Hingson‟s book, Thunder Dog, about his
experiences escaping from the World Trade Center with his Guide Dog Roselle, is
available for preorder at amazon.com.
; Rene Trist of Ojai, Calif., who lost her sight due to multiple sclerosis, took part in an MS
walk recently with her daughter and grandchildren—three generations! Proudly reveling
in all the attention was her black Lab guide, Amalfi. “He‟s changed my world!” she said.
; “Life is what you make of it!” might be Kim Kilpatrick's motto. Since January, she‟s been
writing a daily entry into her blog, “Great Things About Being Blind.” She and her black
Lab guide Tulia are always off on some fun adventure. Kim‟s perspective is thoughtful,
entertaining and educational. Check out http://kimgia3.blogspot.com and read her story
on our website, guidedogs.com, under “Alumni/Stories.”
; Nancy Shugart‟s book “Challenged to Win” received the Barbara Jordan Media Award
presented by the Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities. In it, she
includes stories about her late Guide Dog, Luke, and her current Guide Dog Porsche.
Nancy also authored “Prove Them Wrong: The Kids Who Refused to Quit”.
; Anchors aweigh! In May, 19 Guide Dog teams got an up close and personal look at the
Sea Princess cruise ship while docked in San Francisco. The tour was arranged by
Dimensions in Travel and Princess Cruises to share just how accessible cruising is for
people who are blind. “The ship was amazing, and outfitted to be comfortable for our
Guide Dogs,” said GDB‟s Alumni Association Director Theresa Duncan. “I can‟t wait to set
sail with my guide, Dario!”
; Larry Marcum‟s fellow Lions Club members honored his work on behalf of people who
are blind by presenting him with the MD-4 Excellence Award. He was also named District
4-C1 Lion of the Year. His wife Ida and Guide Dog Galleon were each awarded the
Governor‟s Service Award Patch. We‟d like to add our congratulations and thanks for
their passionate support of our mission.
Puppy raisers opt for gift annuity
For puppy-raisers Joan and Rowan Chlebowski of Rancho Pales Verdes, Calif., the decision to establish a charitable gift annuity was an easy one. “We thought it was a perfect way to support Guide Dogs for the Blind and its puppy raising program, and to secure an income for life,” Joan
The family learned of GDB in 1998 when Joan was introduced to a puppy raiser at the hospital where she worked. Before long, the family was ready to raise its first of many pups. Since then, Joan and Rowan have brought Guide Dog puppies to their respective medical offices where they learn socialization skills.
For Joan and Rowan, attending GDB graduations is key. “We have been to five
graduations,” Joan said, “and they have been very moving activities and reinforced our resolve in puppy raising. It is truly amazing to see „our puppies‟ as mature guides.”
Many thanks to the Chlebowskis for their financial support, their dedication to GDB‟s mission, and their commitment to raising puppies that make a difference in people‟s lives.
Notice: Effective July 1, 2011, annuity rates increase for individuals 75 years or older! Call our Planned Giving Department today for a personal illustration: (800) 295-4050.
You Can Make a Difference!
; Send a donation today
To send a contribution of any type or amount, please use our special mailing address for
donations only: Guide Dogs for the Blind, P.O. Box 3950, San Rafael, CA 94912-3950.
You can also donate at our secure website: www.guidedogs.com.
; Eliminate checks and postage
Direct your bank to automatically transfer your donation; we‟ll send you a year-end letter
; Make an Honor or Memorial gift
Pay tribute to a friend, relative or pet; we will send cards of celebration or sympathy in
; Create a Legacy in your estate plan
Make a lasting commitment by naming GDB in your will, trust, or as a beneficiary of your
annuity, life insurance policy, IRA or retirement plan. We honor such commitments with
membership in our Legacy Society.
; Designate your gift
Designate your donation to go toward a specific GDB program. Visit the “Case for Giving”
section of our website for more info.
For more information on any of these giving options, please contact our Development Department at (800) 295-4050.