Guide Dog News
2008, Issue #2
Explorations in Education
Watching the ease and grace of a person gliding down the street with their Guide Dog, it‟s difficult
to imagine the many steps that each have taken to develop into a smooth traveling team. At
Guide Dogs for the Blind, we‟ve recently made great strides in the education of both dogs and
people, and we‟ve only just begun! Our innovative training staff have revolutionized our process
of turning puppies into partners through the use of clicker training with food rewards, and the
early results are nothing short of astounding. Our new Adult Learning Program is receiving rave
reviews from our students of all ages, who appreciate the attention that is paid to individual
learning styles and personal goals. Our goal is to provide the guidance and support that will allow
both the person and the dog to be successful in the world. It‟s a great time to be involved with
Guide Dogs for the Blind!
Oregon Director of Training Brad Hibbard
Training Supervisor Kelly Martin, Senior Instructor Dina DiMaggio and student Charles
Davis with his Guide Dog Dalton.
I am not very good at doing math first thing in the morning. But there I was weighing squirming
puppies not even 12 hours old, and calculating in milligrams the amount they had gained or lost in
the past four hours. Those in the litter who are not thriving get special attention right from their
first moments. My day shadowing our staff in the Whelping Kennel was quite an eye opener! I
liken the activity level and intensity to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for humans.
The breeder moms were so sweet and trusting, allowing me, a total stranger, to lift their precious
pups from nursing so they could be weighed and examined. They are all treated like royalty of
course, and I was able to give a couple of them well deserved warm mini-baths and lots of
I was even able to help facilitate a successful breeding between two of our dogs, Audrey and
Bond, during the course of the day. Since Audrey is now expecting 10 puppies, I have labeled her
one of “Bond‟s Girls” (James Bond, that is). I hope to follow her throughout her pregnancy and
One of the highlights of the day was delivering a litter of five 1-week old Labs to the breeder
custodian family, as they had volunteered and been approved for our home litter raising program.
The family‟s adorable 4-year-old girl was snuggling with Gail, the new canine mother, as she
reached up from her car seat to give me a hug and say “Thank you for the puppies!” Three weeks
later, I was able to go back with one of our employees on a follow-up visit, and it was absolutely
delightful to see the now 4-week-old characters “toddling” clumsily, jumping on one another‟s
heads and then piling up in a sleepy heap.
Since our Whelping Kennel is protected from the public to prevent infection, it is often invisible to
most who visit our California campus. Yet our Kennel Department operates 24 hours a day,
seven days a week. Dedicated GDB staff members are present for every whelp, comforting and
assisting the mothers and helping the pups take their first breaths. If needed, they even act as
surrogate mothers! They take X-rays, do ultrasounds, administer meds, and bottle feed those
who require extra nutrition. They make exacting notes on each puppy, and monitor constantly. Of
course they are also cleaning kennels, washing dishes, feeding, walking and grooming dogs, and
maintaining a vigilant watch for any situation needing immediate attention. Veterinarians are
always on call.
After the Whelping Kennel, the next stop for the pups is our Puppy Kennel, where the little
bundles of energy and joy spend time being socialized by special “Puppy Socialization”
volunteers in the few weeks before being delivered to their puppy raising homes. This is just the
beginning of all that goes into creating a Guide Dog, and ultimately a special partnership with one
dog and one student.
At graduation, the employees who helped bring the dogs into the world and those who have
nurtured and trained them are often present to witness the powerful hand-off from the puppy
raiser to the graduate. We owe many thanks to the volunteers who keep our breeder dogs who
collaborate with us throughout this endeavor, and to our wonderful puppy raisers who give so
much over and over again. Many hands and hearts touch our dogs along the way to fulfilling our
mission, “Using our Power of Partnering to Improve Quality of Life.”
Nancy E. Gardner
President and CEO
How to “Talk Dog”
“Click!” The sharp, distinctive sound of the clicker was all that was needed for Forester to stop
immediately and wait for his treat. Instructor Todd Jurek reached into a pouch that hung from his
waist and pulled out some kibble. The dog sat in rapt attention and then happily gobbled his
reward from Todd‟s hand. “Good boy!” Todd said, pleased at how quickly Forester had learned
what was expected of him (pictured below, finding the chair).
Clicker training is the newest advancement to the art of Guide Dog training, and its use by the
innovative staff at Guide Dogs for the Blind is sounding reverberations throughout the world.
“In the hands of a good trainer, the clicker is a powerful tool,” said Oregon Director of Training
Brad Hibbard. “The beauty of it is that it communicates to the dog the exact moment it has done
something we want it to do. The timing and consistency of the sound followed by the reward are
key to its success.
“Sometimes, it only takes a couple of trials for the dog to „get it‟. We‟re just ecstatic with the
results,” he continued. “We‟ve always had very high standards for our dogs here at GDB. What
we‟re now seeing is more dogs that meet our highest standards—they‟re more „finished‟ when
they enter class than they have ever been in our history. Because they really understand what
they‟re being asked to do, they‟re able to start using their own initiative at a much earlier stage
than ever before. They have a better attitude—more confidence—much earlier in their training
cycle. Their ability to learn tasks has grown tremendously.”
There is nothing magic about the clicker—this is the basic operant conditioning many of us
learned in Psychology 101. But the combination of sound and food is new to Guide Dog training.
Part of the reason is that Guide Dogs are trained to resist the temptation of food while they are in
harness. They learn that when they are working (often in environments with food, like restaurants
and grocery stores), food is off-limits. Food, however, is a powerful motivator for focusing a dog‟s
“We‟ve only just begun to explore what we can do with clicker training our Guide Dogs,” said
Brad. “Recently, I watched one of our instructors take her dogs through their final testing in
downtown Portland. All three of her dogs came through with our highest rating, one right after the
other. It‟s phenomenal!”
The Other End of the Leash
During a lunchtime conversation, student Dan Donlan put down his fork and exclaimed, “Anybody
who says that education theory doesn‟t translate to practice should see this program!” Dan and
his classmates were spending a month learning to travel with their new Guide Dogs. As he spoke,
his black Lab Elbert snoozed beside his chair.
Dan is retired, but his passion for education hasn‟t waned. As Associate Dean of Education at the
University of California at Riverside, he built his career writing textbooks, training educators to
teach English curriculum, and molding students into good writers.
“Of all the educational retreats, seminars and conventions I‟ve attended in my professional life,
this one is the most powerful,” Dan said. “That‟s really the word I have to use to describe it:
powerful! I call my wife every night and say, „You wouldn‟t believe what we did today!‟ This is one
of the most brilliantly organized training programs I‟ve ever seen.
“My training started even before I got here. I was able to review the class lectures on CD, so I got
an understanding of the basic concepts. The hands-on training breaks complex skills down into
learning many small tasks. For example, during the first few days, we were introduced to the
leash and harness, and we practiced how to attach it to a dog model. We learned some of the
commands. A dog was brought out to interact with us. So, we achieved a level of comfort with the
process before we actually got our own individual dogs.
“People have different learning styles,” he continued. “Some learn better by being shown and
others by reading or hearing information. We were given as much time as we needed to learn.
Our instructors didn‟t move forward until we achieved success. Careful sequencing of learning is
so important—that‟s what determines whether or not it will be successful. And we learned a lot
from each other during class discussions.”
As with our dogs, Dan found that praise is a big motivator for our students as well. “Our
instructors used rewards with us—our rewards were praise and encouragement. We were never
scolded,” he said. “It‟s basically operant conditioning—praise is withheld until you do something
successfully. You learn to keep trying until you hear that praise.
“For me, I still have a little sight, but it gets me into trouble,” he continued. “Elbert has already
saved me from getting hit by a bicycle and falling down stairs. I‟ve learned to stop trying to rely on
my remaining vision. It‟s safer for me to pay attention to my dog.
“I never would have thought that I could be dropped off in the middle of town on an unfamiliar
street and make my way back with no problem. Here, I‟ve always felt like there are a lot of people
working with you, taking you to the next step; each new task building on the last. I never felt
unprepared. There was always support and encouragement. The training was very well planned
and flawlessly executed. I couldn‟t be happier.”
Donor Spotlight: Beverly and Dave Waldron
“Giving of yourself, we feel, is one of the most important things you can do in life,” said Beverly
Waldron. She and her husband Dave have volunteered for many activities and organizations
throughout their lives. “We are extremely proud of being part of Guide Dogs for the Blind,” she
said, “it‟s one of the most satisfying things we‟ve done.”
The couple first learned of the organization by attending a fundraiser. “Our love of animals and
people gave us a real desire to become involved,” Beverly said. “We were impressed by the
camaraderie and excitement. The value of the service provided to people who are blind or
visually impaired without cost was a real draw. And besides performing an invaluable service, we
liked the way operations were run with plenty of thought for cost control; in other words, more
value for the buck.”
Their dedication to our mission led them to chair the Sierra Nevada Friends Committee, helping
to introduce Guide Dogs to supporters in their local area. “The more we learned about how the
organization is run, our feelings were amplified. After we visited the California campus, it
cemented our commitment. The volunteers in the organization all give 100 percent. It made for an
Vet Tips for Your Pet
Courtesy of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. ®TM
If you‟ve recently added a dog or puppy to your household, here are some pointers from the
veterinarians at Hill‟s Science Diet on the physical signs of a happy, healthy pet.
What is Normal?
Eyes: Should be bright and clear. Report any discharge to your veterinarian.
Ears: Should be clean and free of discharge, odor and redness. Untreated ear problems
are painful and can cause hearing loss.
Nose: Should be clean, without discharge or sores.
Mouth: Should smell fresh. Gums should be pink. Teeth should be free of tartar or
plaque. Mouth and lips should be free of sores or growths.
Coat: Should be shiny and clean.
Weight: Active, playful puppies are rarely overweight. Ask your veterinarian for nutritional
advice on maintaining your dog‟s healthy weight.
Bladder/Bowel: Report changes in the frequency or consistency of your puppy/dog‟s
urine or stool to your veterinarian immediately.
Read more online: www.guidedogs.com/vettips
Pinot & Pups
We rolled out the red carpet in Portland this May for our inaugural Pinot & Pups Wine Gala. The
event featured silent and live auctions, complete with world-famous Oregon wines and other
fabulous items. When the final gavel fell, the event had raised $168,000 for veterinary care of our
Oregon guides and pups. Thank you to all event sponsors: Platinum Sponsor—Ralph and Caryl
Cechettini. Gold Sponsors—Key Private Bank; Pacific Power; West Coast Bank. Silver
Sponsors—Golden Promotional Products/Jim and Mary Fister; NW Natural. Pictured (top to
bottom, l to r): Howard Hedinger gives a thumbs-up; Dr. Laurie Christensen cheers Maureen
McKeever‟s winning auction bid; John Krieg with Auctioneer Jim Fiolek; event co-chairs Deena
and Mike Bragg.
Champagne & Chocolates Gala
Guide Dogs was the toast of the town last February in Seattle at the 7th annual fundraising event
planned by the Seattle Area Delta Gamma Alumnae Chapter. The evening‟s festivities raised
$107,000 to support veterinary care for Seattle-Area working guides and puppies-in-training, as
well as the Delta Gamma Lectureships in Values & Ethics. Thank you to all event sponsors: Gold
Sponsor—Millwork Concepts. Silver Sponsors—Mellon Bank; Bob and Jerilee Williams. Pictured:
Event co-chairs Scott and Melissa Cavanaugh; Oregon Campus Executive Director Sig Button
with puppy Bach.
Labs & Lunch
In April, the Orange County Friends Committee held its 3rd annual fundraising event in Laguna
Beach, Calif. The afternoon raised more than $40,000 to support veterinary care costs for Guide
Dogs and puppies-in-training in the Orange County Area. Thank you to all event sponsors: Friend
Sponsors—Fred James; Pacific Monarch Resorts; Cheryl and Carl Post. Buddy Sponsor—
Crevier BMW. Pictured: Event co-chairs Susan and Dave Gerke with puppy Lewis; Cheryl and
Alameda Wine Tasting
The 46th Annual Alameda Wine Tasting, hosted by Guide Dogs‟ Alameda Committee in May,
was a tremendous success. Held at Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda, Calif., guests enjoyed great
food and wine, and bid on exciting silent auction items. Proceeds from the event will fund a new
Guide Dog Team Sponsorship. Pictured: Event Chair Helen Molloy with pup Darby and Guide
Dogs‟ President and CEO Nancy Gardner.
Save the Date!
August 2: Fun Day (California campus)
August 9: Fun Day (Oregon campus)
September 27: Support our Canine Heroes Wine Gala (Napa Valley)
Shop Now—Snooze Later!
Cozy up to a host of Guide Dog Gift Shop merchandise! We‟ve got some exciting new items, as
well as plenty of our perennial favorites in stock now for your shopping pleasure.
2008 Holiday Cards (pictured above): It‟s never too early to stock up for the holidays!
Packaged in sets of ten; blank inside, or with the greeting, “Warm wishes for a joyful
2009 Wall Calendar: Our popular calendar, full of colorful pictures of our dogs and pups.
Plush puppies, notecard sets and more, including our new “Let‟s Go Green!” Recycled
Shopping Bag (pictured ): Shopping bag reads “Reduce your pawprint!” and is made of
100% recycled materials. Bags are tear resistant and water repellent; available in green
with white imprint (shown), or white with green imprint.
Purchase online, by phone or by mail!
Visit www.guidedogs.com/shop to purchase directly from our online store or to download
a mail-in order form.
Call (800) 295-4050, ext. 4611, to place phone orders or request a mail-in order form.
Check out what’s new @ www.guidedogs.com
Visit GDB’s new BLOG!
Called “No Bones About It,” our BLOG is THE place to get updates, insights and meaty tidbits
about our program. And, of course, we want to hear from you! “No Bones About It” gives you a
place to share your stories and connect with others just as passionate about GDB. It‟s a place for
people who want to celebrate life, and believe we should all (people, dogs, organizations) achieve
our fullest potential. Start blogging today at http://guidedogs.blogspot.com.
Play Yourself a Podcast
Listen to stories about all aspects of GDB‟s program with one of our Guide Dog podcasts. With
new episodes always in the works, you can hear insightful tales on everything from Puppy
Raising to Guide Dog training. In addition to guidedogs.com, the podcasts are also available
Click to Give
Consider giving online; it makes sense: it‟s safe, quick, easy… and environmentally smart! Giving
through our secure website is simple, it just takes a few keystrokes and saves time searching for
a stamp and an envelope. Your gift is acknowledged quickly and electronically, with all of the
information you need for the IRS. Together, we can help save the planet, one tree at a time, by
eliminating paper transactions. And, Guide Dogs saves money too. By avoiding the rising costs of
postage, paper and printing, more of your gift directly funds our services.
Team GDB Packs Pedal Power!
For the second year in a row, Guide Dog alumni, puppy raisers, staff and friends teamed up for
the American Diabetes Association‟s Tour de Cure in Napa Valley, Calif., raising $18,000 in the
search for a cure (diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.). Pictured (l to r): Guide
Dog Bristol takes in the scene; tandem cyclists Andy Eber (GDB‟s Director of Development) and
alumnus Ken Altenberger (who has Type I diabetes) lead the pack; Instructor Kristin Lucas chats
with GDB‟s Alumni Association Director Theresa Duncan and her guide Dario.
News of Our Graduates
Juliet Cody, with her Lab/Golden cross Guide Merle, had the opportunity to meet with
First Lady Laura Bush at the White House. Juliet is a student at California State San
Marcos near her home in Escondido, Calif., and received a scholarship that took her to
Washington to speak with Mrs. Bush about Braille literacy and education.
With support from many Orange County Puppy Raisers, alumni and volunteers, Frank
Frand of Santa Ana, Calif., with his yellow Lab guide Cardinal, has hosted a golf
tournament to benefit GDB for the past three years. Tee Off for Dogs has been a
tremendous success; last year, Frank presented GDB with $25,000. This year‟s event is
taking place as this newsletter goes to print, so stay tuned for 2008 results in the next
Janice Walth of Lodi, Calif., recently won a silver medal in archery at the Para-Olympics
world championship in Korea. In addition to her medal, she broke six world records. She
was the only blind archer and is now ranked 2nd in the world! Her guide is yellow Lab
Jeffrey Senge and his yellow Lab guide, Hobbit, were each the proud recipients of
California State Fullerton‟s Titan Excellence Award, given twice a year to university staff.
Jeff is the school‟s information and computer access program coordinator, and Hobbit is
his faithful assistant!
The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) dedicated its 2008
conference in June to the memory of Michael Osborne (yellow Lab guide Hastings).
Michael‟s advocacy efforts made it possible for assistance dogs to travel internationally in
airplane cabins alongside their human partners; his life and achievements were
celebrated at a special conference luncheon.
Andrew Malarski of Fremont, Calif., with Lab/Golden cross guide Loran, recently traveled
to France. A long-time history buff, Andrew was thrilled to spend seven days in and
around historic Normandy, site of WWII‟s D-Day invasion.
Gary Norman of Baltimore, Md., is the recipient of the Maryland Bar Foundation‟s 2008
Edward F. Shea, Jr. Professionalism Award. Gary‟s guide is yellow Lab Langer.
Barbara Manipod of Fremont, Calif., recently became a Microsoft Certified Systems
Engineer (MCSE), the first blind student in the program at Tech Skills LLC school in San
Jose. Her new title will come in handy at her job; she works at Sensory Access
Foundation as a Training and Technology Specialist. Barbara‟s guide is yellow Lab
On a recent vacation, Katharine Epstein‟s yellow Lab guide Cypress turned out to be
quite the attraction herself! The duo not only visited Brazil, but took an Antarctic cruise as
well. Katharine reports, “Many people took pictures of her, crew and passengers
constantly stopped me to talk to her, and one bus load of people even clapped for her!”
Despite all the attention, Katharine said Cypress was an incredible guide. “I cannot tell
you in words how helpful she was. She truly represented the best spirit of the Guide Dog
GDB will have great representation this summer on Capitol Hill! Corbb O‟Connor of Long
Grove, Ill., with his yellow Lab guide Phoenix, will be participating in the American
Association of People with Disabilities' Summer Congressional Internship program. At
press time, he was busy interviewing for a position in the U.S. Senate.
Charitable Gift Annuities
As of July 1, 2008, gift annuity rates are dropping! Act now!
Give the gift that gives back! Gift annuities offer you or a beneficiary payments for life.
Gift annuity income is partially tax-free; you also get an income tax charitable donation at
the time of the gift.
Call the Planned Giving Office at (800) 295-4050 for more information.
Announcing the Guide Dogs for the Blind credit card! It makes giving to Guide Dogs
easy—all you have to do is shop! Learn more at www.guidedogs.com/visa