Guiding Eyes for the Blind – Erie Region

Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Erie Region Newsletter

Spring 2007



Sharing the Loss


All raisers, team and Erie friends and family share in the grieving of the loss of Hildy. The following letter was written by Hildy’s trainer, Susan Kroha. These great dogs are so loved by the training staff...


“I cannot imagine what you're feeling as you read this letter.   I wanted to tell you a little about Hildy's month in training with me. From the start, I knew she was special. She shared a run with another yellow girl, and it wasn't until I had her on leash and out of her run that I saw that tiny white tuft of hair at the tip of her tail. My first notes on her read ‘sweet, composed girl, lovely temperament’. She was always very excited to get out of the kennel, jumping and nodding her head as I tried to get a collar on her. She nodded up and down, like she was laughing. It was the funniest thing. Once on leash I saw that she had lovely manners. You did a wonderful job. She took to the harness extremely well, and loved to get her treats as we started clicker training. Hildy was very bright and picked up on the basics very quickly. I had to take a couple of days off to go to a conference and, when I returned, I was pleasantly surprised that Hildy remembered everything she was taught.  She learned forward more quickly that most of my dogs. I genuinely looked forward to working with her because she was so refined and focused, affectionate, and she was so easy to teach! I came to work last weekend, and she was as happy as ever, bouncing in her run and waving her tail. We started to work in town this week.  She really did not seem to feel ill at all.

 We had our last workout Friday afternoon. We worked in a quiet neighborhood in Peekskill, on a grass-lined street with lots of trees. The weather was beautiful. I remember marveling at her when she stopped for curbs after only a few trips in town. I looked down at her, gave her a Charlee Bear treat, and told her how smart she was.  She seemed to be subdued, so I asked the vet staff to look at her when we returned to the school. She was very well cared for and she spent the afternoon with them. She had a bed and toys. I sat on the floor with her for a while, and she came into my lap and kissed my ears. I checked on her again before I went home and she was resting comfortably.

My heart is broken for you. Please know that I love Hildy dearly and I miss her all the time. I dedicate the training of all my dogs to her memory.”  




The Nose Knows


It’s clear that dogs have more sensitive noses than humans but researchers don’t know exactly how much.  Dogs have 20 to 40 times as many olfactory receptor cells as humans and the part of the canine brain devoted to smells - the olfactory lobe - is four times larger than a human’s. 

Dog’s exceptional olfactory skills are put to new uses every day.  While commonly used to track criminals and search out explosives and drugs, dogs have some newer, more novel employment today.  Here are a few amazing sniffing jobs:  bed-bug detection in Manhattan hotels, detecting when a cow is ready for mating, sniffing water samples to detect whether ponds will give farm-raised catfish an odd-flavor, detecting noxious weeds and sniffing out leaks in gas pipelines.

Increasingly, researchers employ dogs to benefit at-risk wildlife.  Considered the world’s first dog to make a living finding the scat of endangered killer whales, this ball-crazed dog gets to play with his favorite toy when he picks up the scat scent.  By analyzing the scat, researchers are finding what is killing whales in the Pacific Northwest.  Scat analysis avoids the need to chase elusive animals to obtain blood or tissue samples, that reveal what the whale eats and its DNA.  Another dog learned to sniff out the scat of caribou, moose and wolf as part of an environmental assessment of an area targeted for oil drilling.  Other dogs have been trained to locate threatened species such as desert tortoises so they can be relocated to protected areas. A beagle tracks pythons in the Everglades.  Abandoned by irresponsible pet owners, pythons eat prey needed by native alligators. 

Many working dogs use their noses to find mold and termites in homes as well as detect health changes and diseases.   A dog can smell the scent of a mold by-product, microbial gases, making the search for mold efficient and accurate. Dogs are used to sniff out arson by alerting when they detect a substance used to start a fire, usually gasoline. Their arson sniffing skills are well respected since accelerant detection devices are not nearly as accurate. More research is being conducted on a dog’s ability to detect malignancy in human cells, oncoming seizures and drops in blood sugar.  Any wonder why dogs are man’s best friend!




Local Heroes - Comings & Goings of our Puppies


Best Wishes to the following dogs and their proud raisers.  Congratulations for a job well done!

§          Laura gave lots of hugs to her 2nd puppy Hildy.

§          Diane & Rick said farewell to their 5th puppy Hans.

§          Alec gave lots of hugs to his raisers Kathy & Ron.  He is their 9th puppy.

§          Wade said goodbye to Russ & Audrey.  He is their 12th puppy.

§          Carol said farewell to her 1st puppy Winona. 


Welcome to the newest members of our region:

§          Island was welcomed into the home of Laura & Kelly.  She is their 3rd puppy.

§          Angie, Cecilia’s 3rd puppy, was welcomed with lots of hugs and kisses.

§          Richard’s puppy, Anderson, was welcomed with big hugs. He is their 7th puppy.

§          Fenton was welcomed into the home of Lois Crane & Family. He is their 1st puppy.





Safety on Spring Walks


Flowers are in bloom, lawns are turning green and the milder weather calls for both humans and puppies to head outdoors to enjoy it.  But not everything about spring is sweet and mild.  There are things to watch for when you and your puppy are out walking.  Steer clear of these common springtime items that could harm your puppy: mushrooms have many poisonous varieties; daffodils, crocuses, irises and other bulb or tuber-rooted flowers have toxic or caustic properties; toads and frogs of certain types exude toxins when touched; insects become active; honeybees are busy near flowers and movement can attract your puppy’s attention; skunks become more active especially during twilight hours.  Stay safe while enjoying the fresh spring air.




Happy 1st Birthday


The following puppies and raisers are celebrating! 

·          Rufus, born on 3/6/06, celebrated his birthday with many hugs from Sharon & Mike.

·          Mr. Handsome, Walden, celebrated his big day with his raiser Katie.  He arrived in the world on 3/15/06.

·          Barb sang Happy Birthday to sweet Yardley who was born on 3/16/06.

·          Barkley, born on 3/26/06, was honored at a party with his raiser Sue.   




Still the One


The American Kennel Club’s breed registration statistics for 2006 show that the Labrador Retriever is still the most popular AKC breed in the US. However, the Yorkshire Terrier replaced the ever-smiling Golden Retriever in the No. 2 spot.  The German Shepherd came in at No. 3.  With the Golden now at No. 4, the Beagle remains at No. 5.



Grooming - The Right Routine


As the seasons change, you want to keep your puppy as comfortable as possible.  Grooming encourages good circulation in her skin, increased healthy oil production to keep her coat shiny and wards off not only fleas and other pests, but ear infections, tear stains, hot spots and periodontal disease.  Grooming keeps you hands-on and tuned in to any changes in your puppy’s skin, coat, eyes, ears and teeth, and can help pinpoint sore areas, lumps and bumps, rashes and signs of serious health problems.

So, how do you get started?  Routine!  Puppies love routines as they help to calm and reassure them.  If something becomes a regular and infallible part of their day or week, your puppy will soon come to expect and enjoy it. Here’s how to make grooming part of your normal routine:

·          Set a time for grooming and stick to that time every day.

·          Establish specific cues that will alert your puppy that it’s grooming time such as a verbal cue ‘Grooming Time!’, physical cue of pulling out the brush/clippers and sensory cues such as a special toy or healthy treat you offer only for good grooming behavior.

·          Choose a grooming location and use it every time.  When you go to this location your puppy will know what’s coming and, as long as you keep grooming fun, she’ll follow you eagerly. Once she is accustomed to being groomed in this location, move to a new location so she learns that grooming is fun anywhere!

·          Relax and enjoy yourself!  Nobody sticks with a routine they hate, so both you and your puppy should enjoy the whole grooming process.  For your puppy, grooming should feel good.  Healthy treats and plenty of praise help too.  For you, enjoy the relaxation and bonding time with your canine best friend.  You do know that petting your puppy lowers your blood pressure, right?

·          A dose of will power never hurt.  Some days, you may not feel like grooming your puppy, but she depends on you, not only for helping her with her personal hygiene, but for that close one-on-one time you spend together.

·          Finally, have her groomed professionally at least once so she learns that grooming is fun with someone else.  Penny Lanich, Team Member and owner of Pawprints by Penny, professionally grooms our puppies at a discount price.  So, give your puppy a day at the spa - she deserves it!

Blind graduates are very grateful when their guide dogs enjoy being groomed as they want to keep their companions healthy and looking their best.  It’s the only way a graduate knows if their guide dog has a health problem.  Early detection is the key to successful treatment.  A raiser can help their puppy enjoy grooming sessions.  Its part of the gift we give to the graduate.   



Upcoming Events


Please stop by to lend your support at these events! However, unless you and your puppy are

scheduled to work at an event, please refrain from bringing your puppy with you.


4/21/07 - International Guide Dog Recognition Day at McKinley Mall

5/11/07 - Presentation at Westfield Academy in Westfield, NY

5/12/07 - Clarence United Methodist Church Mother/Daughter Banquet


Contact Russ or Mary Ellen with any Public Relations Events or Speaker’s Bureau requests.






Puppy Jeopardy


Want to win a Bonus Bone?  Below is the Puppy Jeopardy answer in the Health Care category.  The first class participant to provide the correct question at the next class wrap-up earns a Bonus Bone.  Good Luck! The irritating bug that can infect your puppy with the heartworm parasite or pass the West Nile virus to you.




Jack - On the Job


The following letter was written by a blind graduate whose guide dog Jack was raised in our region:

“Jack and I went to the market to pick up a few things.  Our route consists of crossing our apartment complex parking lot, going thru a gate and crossing a one lane access road used by delivery trucks.  On our way home, I heard a loud truck noise as we approached the access road.  Then, I heard someone tell me to go ahead, he would wait.  As we stepped off the curb, Jack pushed me back.  I heard the truck skid.  As I praised Jack, he pushed me back a second time, even harder. I never realized Jack had such power in his 72 pound body.  I heard a terrible scraping sound followed by a loud bang.  The truck has run over the curb.  The truck door opened and a shaken voice said ‘Thank God you’re alright!’  The driver hit a patch of black ice as he stopped to let us cross. He didn’t see Jack push me back so he thought he hit both of us.  I’m so grateful the driver was able to control his rig and even more thankful Jack responded quickly and remained so calm.”  Good boy, Jack!





Web Wise


Raisers need to keep a watchful eye on their puppy’s weight.  To help you determine if your puppy is within his target weight, go to the CDC Website at cdc.guidingeyes.org and click on Health Care, Common Illnesses and Obesity to view the Proper Body Weight Chart.  If you have a question about the health risks associated with too many puppy pounds, click on Obesity Epidemic under Health Care to read a letter written by Dr. Sandler, GEB Vet.  If you have a question about your puppy’s weight, contact your Area Coordinator.