Guiding Eyes for the Blind – Erie Region

Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Erie Region Newsletter

Summer 2007


Making a Splash


Whether you swim simply because you love the water or because it’s easier on your joints, your puppy can share the same fitness benefits.  Swimming builds endurance, increases muscle strength and is a terrific cardiovascular workout.


If you have a backyard pool or access to a pond, lake or ocean, here’s how to get your puppy paddling.  Don’t assume all dogs love water and inherently know how to swim even if they are retrievers.  Each puppy is an individual with their own personality.  If a puppy is unsure of the water, rushing into things will likely terrify her and turn her off for good.  Take the introduction to swimming slowly.  Attach a light-weight long line so she doesn’t stray too far from you. Pick a quiet place with shallow water and get in the water with her. Entice her with a buoyant toy or have someone stand with her while you move away slowly.  Then call her to you enthusiastically.  Once she’s in, she’ll love it!  Remember to introduce her gradually to each new water experience.  A pool looks much different than the ocean with the waves rolling in!  Also, water looks different depending on the time of day. The reflection of the sun on the water mid-day may confuse her as it glistens.


There are a few health concerns to watch for after she comes out of the water.  Check her paw pads for any cuts that could easily become infected.  Rinse her down to rid her coat of any salt, sand or chlorine.  And, remember to clean and dry her ears.  Try not to let her drink pool water as it contains chemicals that can upset her stomach.  Ocean water might nauseate her too. Pond and creek water may cause dietary indiscretion.


Even water-loving puppies can tire or get cramps when swimming. It’s a good idea to fit her with a canine life vest for safety particularly if you go boating.  Be sure the vest isn’t so loose that she’ll get tangled in it, but not so tight that it restricts her breathing.  Never leave her unsupervised around a pool and train her to exit the pool via built-in pool stairs or a floating pet ramp.  Only one puppy should be allowed in the pool at a time. Keep in mind that puppies can become chilled in the water, just like us.  Check the water temperature before jumping in.  Most important, when she wants to get out, respect her decision and she’ll be a great swimmer for years to come!  



From the Factory to the Bowl


Here are a few key things to look for on the label of a bag of food.  The package should state AAFCO – the Association of American Feed Control Officials.  This means that the recipe was formulated to meet the standard for a complete and balanced diet.  By law, ingredients are listed in descending order by volume.  Check out the top four or five ingredients.  As long as the AAFCO assurance appears on the label, it’s a matter of personal preference unless your veterinarian advises a special diet.  But, the important part of the label is the guaranteed analysis portion of the nutrient panel.  This information assures the food contains the stated percentage of protein and other nutrients.  “Human grade” food is a marketing term, not a term recognized or verified by federal regulators.  The same goes for  ”USDA-approved ingredients”.  The Department of Agriculture does not regulate pet food.   




Journey with Zed


by Tonya Cole, Puppy Raiser       


Zed was my first GEB pup, arriving in home September 2005. A small, docile ball of fur that captured my heart by the third day. I marveled at how a pup could be so laid back. By the second week, ‘Z’ came out of his docile shell, chasing Kitty from room to room whilst overturning lamps. He decided he preferred his emerging personality and never looked back to the placid days.


We attended weekly follow-ups together for 6 months, had several in-home visits, and stayed after class for extra help. Numerous stories to tell including some of the more renowned: Zed’s objection to being filmed, and the notorious 'how to ride in a car lesson' that left St. Catherine attendees certain the dog was driving.


Mary Ellen and team continued to work with us patiently when around 10 months Zed began making great strides in maturation and attentiveness. He went ‘In for Training’ on October 10, 2006 and passed. Quarterly evaluations improved month to month and Mary Ellen phoned mid-April – “get your bags packed, we have an upcoming graduation”. After inquiring whom three times, the realization finally sunk in!


Zed graduated on April 28, 2007. It’s a day certainly never forgotten. Zed ushered his graduate into the room and calmly laid under the chair for a lengthy graduation ceremony. I did my part and cried, triggering a chain reaction down the row. While observing Zed during the graduation, I quickly realized the bond between graduate and dog was much, much stronger than between raiser and dog.


I followed Zed and graduate out of the ceremony while ‘Z’ casually led his new owner down a flight of stairs – nice, calm, and purposeful. They continued down the hall where Zed gently nudged himself between a narrowing hall to get his new owner safely to his room. They were an absolute perfect match and the graduate could not stop talking about ‘his boy Zed’. The tears stopped and joy and gratification overtook.


At some late juncture, Zed decided to accept the challenge of becoming a Guide Dog. Not all do but a decision made independent of me in the end. Zed and graduate are happily meeting one another’s needs in the Bronx while I turn my attention to the next one. There’s always so much to learn and each dog imparts another layer irrespective of their final destination.




The President’s Volunteer Service Award


by Mary Ellen.


Regional Coordinators were invited to nominate those exceptional youth raisers in their region who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the Puppy Raising Program and our dogs for The President’s Volunteer Service Award.  Erie was proud to nominate their very own, Rich Elliott, Jr.


Rich Jr. has been a Puppy Raiser since age 11, raising 7 puppies including Rodney, Ethan, Paxton, Archie, Hansel, Anderson, Ripley and now, number 8, Amos.  His family is to be commended for their dedication and support.  As we all know, family support is paramount in Puppy Raising.  Rich Jr. can be described as quiet and understated, with a strong ability to ‘connect’ to the dogs as well as good handling skills.  We are extremely proud that Rich Jr. was awarded The President’s Volunteer Service Award. Congratulations and thank you so much for your continued passion for GEB.




Local Heroes - Comings & Goings of our Puppies


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

§          Jody & Merlin said good-bye to their 4th puppy Iggie.

§          Rufus gave lots of hugs and kisses to his raisers Sharon & Mike.  He was their 3rd puppy.

§          Anderson, Rich Jrs 7th puppy, said good-bye to his raiser and family.


Welcome to the newest members of our region:

§          Janelle is joining the home of Audrey and Russ.  She is their 13th puppy.

§          Lambert, Leonard’s 4th puppy, was welcomed with lots of hugs and kisses.

§          Tim’s 1st puppy, Velour, was welcomed into his home with warm hugs.

§          Wesley, Sharon & Mike’s 4th puppy, was welcomed with lots of hugs & kisses.

§          Rich Jr. and his family welcomed Amos, their 8th puppy, and a puppy from Hansel’s (a puppy raised by Rich) first litter.




Happy 1st Birthday


The following puppies and raisers are celebrating! 

·          Patience, born on 5/14/06, celebrated her birthday with many hugs from Dianne.

·          Mr. Handsome, Ripley, celebrated his big day with his raiser Rich Jr.  He arrived in the world on 5/15/06.

·          Doreen had a party for her puppy Diva who was born on 6/21/06.

·          Sister & Brother, Fortune & Finley, born on 6/28/06, were honored by their raisers.  Fortune is being raised by Gail & Doug and Finley is being raised by Tonya.

·          Goldie was the guest of honor at a party hosted by her raisers Kathy & Sarah.  She was born on 6/29/06.

·          Hillary had a party for Haiku who came into the world on 7/5/06.

·          Murray & Maxwell were born on 8/12/06.  Murray is being raised by Denise and Maxwell is being raised by Mary Ellen.

·          Brothers Nathan & Nugent were born on 8/14/06.  Nathan is being raised by Adam.   



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.



                              8/03/07    HSBC Mortgage Department Fundraiser

                              8/6/07      Erie Region Quarterly Walk ‘n Talks (formerly Evaluations), LSFH from 1:30-7pm

                              8/6/07      Puppy Pre-Placement Classes 7-9pm

                              8/13/07    Erie Region Quarterly Walk ‘n Talks (formerly Evaluations), LSFH from 1:30-7pm

                              8/13/07    Puppy Pre-Placement Classes 7-9pm

                              8/20/07    Puppy Pre-Placement Classes 7-9pm

                              8/27/07    Puppy Pre-Placement Classes 7-9pm                                                                                                                                                                     

                              9/14/07    Southtowns Dog Training Club presentation with blind graduate Lynnette and guide dog Quincy

                            10/24/07    Hamburg Continuing Education Program, Russ and Audrey

                            11/14/07    Lancaster Women’s Civic Club informational presentation, Mary Ellen 


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



Web Wise


The revised Puppy Sitter Form is now available on the Erie Region website at  Click on Forms to download the new document.



Puppy Jeopardy


Want to win a Bonus Bone?  Below is the Puppy Jeopardy answer in the Eye & Vision category.  The first class participant to provide the correct question at the next class wrap-up earns a Bonus Bone.  Good Luck!


A dog’s average field of vision in degrees.