Guiding Eyes for the Blind – Erie Region

Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Erie Region Newsletter


Spring 2008




Web Wise


The CDCWeb is now the Volunteer Network website at  volunteer.guidingeyes.org.  The new Relationship Centered Training material is posted in the Puppy Raising section under “Lessons for GEB Dogs”.  You must log in to have access to this material.   



Juno Goes to the Mall

Success comes in Small Steps


Juno and I go to the mall early to avoid the crowds.  On our last visit, there were very few people but he still dandered and was highly distracted.  We stayed close to the entrance, repeating the same area, encouraging comfort.  Our stay was short, about 15 minutes.


Our next trip was two weeks later.  This trip was at the same time but there was much more activity.  Juno was initially distracted but began settling after 10 minutes.  We proceeded very deliberately and slowly to the stairs.  Lots of passer-bys but he did very well!  I anticipated that he would lunge toward everyone, but to my delight, he sat and checked-in with me, where he gets highly rewarded.  This amazed me given his impulsiveness. One shopper impolitely invaded our space by bending over Juno and putting his hands near his face.  This made it impossible for all of us.  I suggested we (all three of us including the intruder) could do better so we tried again.  The second time, everyone exercised better control.


Loose leash walking is always challenging so we never get far in terms of distance.  Juno was dandering so we slowly headed back to our entrance.  Suddenly, he fell in stride, gazed up toward me and walked with a loose leash for the longest distance we’ve ever covered. That’s when I wanted to scoop him up and toss him in the air with joy!  Our distance for someone else may have been a big “So What!”, but for us, it was a mile of success.


Juno is beginning to show signs of maturing and having an understanding of all the tools taught in the classroom.  At times, it seems the patience required to practice class concepts will never pay off, but when you least expect it, the puppy puts it altogether, making the next exposure even more successful than the last.  Soon, we have the well-mannered, responsive dog that can walk down the street on a loose leash on your left without hesitation.  Then, it’s time for our good-byes as he begins his next chapter.




Secondhand Smoke


Cigarette smoke can make a dog sick. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, one of the primary causes of canine cancer and bronchitis is secondhand smoke, affecting the longevity and comfort of a dog.  In 2001, researchers at the Colorado College of Veterinary Medicine tested dogs that lived with smokers and found carcinogens in the dog’s fur and urine.  Toxins from cigarette smoke settle on the dog’s hair and become consumed when the dog self-grooms.  Also, researchers found that long-nosed breeds have more nasal tissue exposed to carcinogens, resulting in higher rates of sinus cancer than their short-snouted friends.


Research at the Saskatchewan College of Veterinary Medicine suggests that smoke exposure causes canine heart disease.  Studies beginning in 2006 show severe canine blood vessel damage.  For humans, this level of impairment is associated with a high risk for stroke and heart attack.  It’s unclear what this means for a dog’s health. 


All experts agree there is only one sure way to mitigate risk to our dogs:  don’t smoke inside the house, any building with pets or in your vehicle.




Local Heroes - Comings & Goings of our Puppies


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

§          Doreen said good-bye to her 2nd puppy Diva

§          Fortune “Cookie” gave lots of hugs and kisses to her raisers Gail & Doug.  Fortune is their 11th puppy.

§          Haiku, Hillary & Susan’s 1st puppy, said good-bye to her raisers

§          Denise said good-bye to her 5th puppy, Murray

§          Nugent gave hugs to his raisers Jody & Merlin.  He is their 5th puppy

§          Renae said good-bye to her 1st puppy Chico


                    Welcome to the newest members of our region:

§          Scamp was welcomed into the home of Susan.  He is her 1st puppy.

§          Colleen & Don welcomed their 1st puppy Titan, Sue Brado is graciously starting Titan for Colleen & Don

§          Babe is enjoying her new home with Laura.  She is her 4th puppy.

§          Barbara gave lots of hugs to her 3rd puppy “Little” Debbie




Happy 1st Birthday


The following puppies and raisers are celebrating!

Janelle, born on 3/20/07, celebrated her birthday with lot of hugs from her raisers Audrey and Russ

       Lambert celebrated his big day with his raiser Len.  He was born on 3/27/07.

       Tim is celebrating with his puppy Velour on her 1st birthday.  She was born on 5/16/07

       Wesley is growing up fast!  He’s having a party with his raisers, Mike & Sharon.  He was born on 5/22/07.

       Rich is having a party for big boy Amos.  He was born on 5/29/07





More than Punching the Clock

Good House Manners are Important to our Graduates


Its uncanny what my guide dog knows and how he reacts to situations.  In the two plus years we've been working together, we have truly become a team.  He knows all my usual haunts.  As we pass one of my favorite restaurants on the way to the train station, he turns his head to ask if we're going to stop there.  He loves to visit restaurants and Starbucks.


My boy lets me know when he needs to “Get Busy”.  I've learned to detect his signal that he needs a pit stop. I know his slight pull when he's trying to take me around an obstacle.  I also know when he's distracted by the presence of another dog or some interesting scent.  Because we trust each other, he can guide me confidently, with wagging tail, in any situation – to work/church or through unfamiliar airports or hotel lobbies.  At the end of the work day, when he punches out on the time clock and his harness comes off, my boy fulfills another important role in my life – that of loving family member.


I was blind at birth.  Currently, I have my 7th guide dog.  His impeccable house manners have earned him the run of my home.  He has a proven record of staying off my furniture; he never jumps on my kitchen counter; he never steals food; he waits patiently for his meals and he greets my friends and guests with all fours on the floor.  I do my part by providing him with safe chew toys in his toy box as well as playtime toys which we use only during play and exercise sessions.  At night, after his playtime and last visit outside, he goes up to our bedroom and heads for his dog bed.  It doesn't take him long to fall fast asleep. It's easy to tell when he's asleep, since he snores.  In fact, my husband and I can't decide who snores louder - us or him.  In sum, my boy is an integral part of the family.


I have loved all my guide dogs, each with their individual personalities and sense of humor.  However, not all were taught good house manners.  While my first dog was an excellent guide dog, she was notorious for jumping on people when they came to visit.  She thought everyone was coming to see her and wanted to give them a big warm welcome.  However, my guests didn't have the same opinion of the greeting.  Since her behavior was driving my friends away, I called the Training School for help.  A trainer worked with her and showed me what to do to keep her from jumping on people.  What a relief!  I didn't loose my friends, and they grew to love her almost as much as my family and I did.


My third guide dog never jumped on anyone, but boy did she love to eat.  She could grab food off the counter faster than anything.  One day I was making my daughter’s lunch for school and I turned around to get a sandwich bag.  In that brief second, she jumped up, grabbed the sandwich, and, in typical lab fashion, wolfed it down.  My daughter went to school without lunch.  I took it to her later that morning on my way to the university.  Because my guide dog had an iron stomach, most of her escapades with food were an inconvenience.  However, the day she took a wrapped box of chocolate off the table and ate most of the chocolate along with ribbon and wrapping, the result was a sick dog out of commission for three days, many messes to clean up, and a large vet bill.  Fortunately, I know how to travel with a cane and didn't miss any time at work.  After that episode, she was never let loose in the house without a sighted person present.  In addition, when I was handling food, she was tethered to the bookshelf in my kitchen to keep her from hovering around me, just waiting for any opportunity to run off with food. 


Climbing and sleeping on couches, chairs, and beds not only increases my vacuuming and laundry chores but also makes me an unwelcome guest in hotels when I travel on business or pleasure. Subsequent hotel guests don't want to find fur in their bed or on the chairs because a previous guest's guide dog wouldn't stay on the floor. 


All of us graduates will never find the words to thank raisers for the wonderful gift that you give us.  We know you put a lot of work into raising these dogs; we appreciate how hard it is to give them up.  My guide dogs have increased my ability to travel safely in all kinds of weather to anywhere I need to go.  For example, twice my fourth guide dog led me in heavy snow – once to get my daughter at daycare and later to be with my mother before surgery.  If they all had my current guide dog’s good house manners, it would be the icing on the cake (gravy on the biscuit!), making it the best gift ever.  Thank you again for all you do!




Volunteers Needed


Your help is needed at the Knight of Columbus Meat Raffle to be held on May 17 from 6 PM - 9 PM in Cheektowaga.  A portion of the proceeds benefits GEB.  Contact Mary Ellen if you are able to volunteer at this event. 









Upcoming Events


Please stop by to lend your support at Public Relations events. However, unless you and your puppy are scheduled to work at an event, please refrain from bringing your puppy with you.  If you are scheduled to work, digital pictures of the event for our web site are appreciated. Click on “Schedule of Events” for the list of regularly scheduled classes. Contact Russ or Mary Ellen with any Public Relations Events or Speaker’s Bureau requests.


                   4/29                           Boy Scout Group presenting used ink cartridges, 7 PM - 8:30 PM

                                                     Russ & Audrey, Windom Fire Hall, 3736 Abbott Rd, Orchard Park


                   4/30                           International Guide Dog Recognition Day - various activities pending


                   5/2 & 5/3                   New York State Lions Convention - Niagara Falls Convention Center


                   5//9                            Presentation at Westfield Academy - Russ, Audrey & Janelle


                   5/12 – 5/27                Vidler’s Window Display - Main Street, East Aurora


                   5/17                           Knights of Columbus Meat Raffle, 6PM - 9PM, Cheektowaga


                   5/19                           East Aurora Lions Dinner Meeting, 6:30 PM, Iron Kettle Restaurant, East Aurora, Jim - presenter


e’ll be beaming in no time.