Alumni News Winter 2014

Alumni News Winter 2014

Greetings GDB Alumni!

I am resending the current Alumni News as many folks did not receive it last week due to an unfortunate software glitch with our email server.


Alumni News

Volume 21 – Number 1

Theresa Stern, Director of Alumni and Outreach Services, Editor

Send submissions to the editor via tape, phone, mail, or e-mail

Alumni Association Mission Statement

The Alumni Association will support the vision of GDB of “using our power of partnering to improve quality of life” by building a strong sustainable community of support among our Alumni. We will work to support Alumni success with their guide, in building relationships with others, and actively participating in the greater GDB community.

Alumni Association Board of Directors Mission Statement

Connecting Our Community through Leadership, Advocacy, Communication and Outreach

We'd like to send our very special thanks to all of our Alumni who, by their efforts and their examples, refer others to our program.

Alumni News is available electronically, in Braille, and on audio CD. If you are able to access email and would like future issues sent to you electronically, please let Theresa Stern know at . Email allows us to get the news to you in a timely manner and is easy on the environment!

Table of Contents

  2. Message from the Alumni Association Board Chair
  3. GDB Welcomes New CEO
  4. New Pet Food Discount Program
  5. New GDB Video – Harnessing the Power of Partnership
  6. Guide Dogs Cruise the California Coast
  8. Alternative Health Tips for Your Guide
  9. Top Ten Things To Do Before the Next Emergency or Disaster
  10. Checklist for a Guide Dog Emergency Evacuation Kit
  12. The Furry Festival
  13. Guide Dog Handlers All Ways Welcomes You
  14. Guide Dog Handlers of the Midwest
  16. A Walk with Lava
  18. Exploring Talking GPS


Message from the Alumni Association Board Chair

By Becky Andrews with Cricket, Alumni Association Board Chair

I hope this finds you and your guide doing well. This has been another busy quarter for our Alumni Association. We have hosted two speaker series calls and we are pleased to feature the summaries in this newsletter. For those interested in listening to the full content, the podcasts can be downloaded from the GDB website.

My guide, Cricket and I are going through the transition of her retirement. I am sure you can relate to how quickly the years fly by with our guides! As alumni we share a special connection, friendship, and support for one another. Thank you!

We are pleased to see the number of our Alumni Chapters growing, attendance of the speaker series calls increasing, and many interesting updates from our grads in the Alumni News!

As an Alumni Association Board, we appreciate hearing from you! We welcome your ideas, concerns, and stories to be shared as we strive to build an even stronger connection in our GDB community.

GDB Welcomes a New CEO

Jay Harris and the GDB CEO Search Committee

We have very exciting news to share with you. On behalf of the GDB CEO Search Committee, I am delighted to announce that Christine Benninger (Chris) has been appointed as the CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Chris brings a wealth of experience from the non-profit and for-profit sectors that will help us continue as leaders and innovators in our field. She is a strategic, compassionate, and compelling leader, who is well suited to help GDB fulfill our mission of empowering lives by creating exceptional partnerships between people, dogs, and communities. Chris spent 17 years leading the Humane Society Silicon Valley. During her tenure there, she and her team’s progressive approach helped save the lives of tens of thousands of animals and greatly reduce pet overpopulation problems in Santa Clara County. Under her leadership, the organization was also able to raise $25.5 million to build The Animal Community Center -- the first facility of its kind in the country.

Chris honed her business skills as an auditor with Arthur Andersen & Co. as well as in her 15 years with Hewlett Packard Corporation. At HP, Chris held managerial positions in the U.S. as well as in Europe. She holds an M.B.A. from Stanford University.

Chris gives back to the community through her role on several non-profit boards. She serves on Page Mill YMCA as Board Chair and Pan African Sanctuary Alliance as Board Vice Chair. She is on the board of Merit Partners.

Chris loves to bicycle ride and hike. This past summer she rode her bike from Bellingham, Washington to Portland, Oregon and just completed a trek to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back in February. Chris has 3 dogs: Hank, a Basset Hound, Bess, a three-legged Cattle Dog mix, and Fred, a Chihuahua. Chris’ first day will be April 7th. Interim President and CEO, Bob Burke, will be helping lead the onboarding and transition process. I hope you will join me in thanking him for stepping in and doing an amazing job over the past months. We look forward to welcoming Bob back to the GDB Board.

Stay tuned for information about opportunities to connect with Chris. She is thrilled to be joining GDB and shares “I am thrilled to have been chosen as the next CEO for Guide Dogs. It's an amazing organization and it's such an honor to be part of its team.”

We are looking forward to a bright future for GDB under Chris’ leadership and hope you are too.

Welcome Chris!

NEW Pet Food Discount Program!

1-800-PetMeds is offering GDB constituents an ongoing discount program. An additional 15% discount is provided on everything they sell, from all major brands of pet food including Natural Balance, to preventatives, supplies, and more. Free home delivery is available for all orders over $39.

Simply go to the special website they’ve set up: and the 15% discount is automatically deducted from the price of everything you purchase. No special coupon or discount code is required and it shows the amount you save per line item before you place your order.

You can also call 1-800-Pet-Meds (1-800-738-6337) and mention that you are with Guide Dogs for the Blind and would like to take advantage of the 15% discount offered through

All orders can be drop shipped directly to your home, and any order over $39 receives free shipping.

New GDB Video – Harnessing the Power of Partnership!

We’re excited to announce that our new video Harnessing the Power of Partnership is now live on YouTube! This video is narrated by GDB graduate Belo Cipriani and gives an overview of our programs and services at Guide Dogs for the Blind as well as the magical relationship that forms between a guide and its handler. We chose to work with Belo because he has an eloquent way of narrating not only his own story, but sharing information about GDB as well. Belo is also bilingual and it was important for us to have this piece available in Spanish.

Another important part of this project was making sure the video is accessible for those who are visually impaired; you will see there are two versions of each of the English and Spanish videos (one has a descriptive audio intro by Belo). Also, below each video link there is a full written detailed description of each scene under the “show more” option.

Please feel free to share this video with your family and friends. It would also be something nice to show if you’re doing a speaking engagement or presentation. The video has also been launched across our various social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter) so please feel free to share on those as well. We think this is a great reflection of our evolving brand and organization, and we hope that it makes you proud to be a part of GDB.

Guide Dogs Cruise the California Coast – October 11 – 18, 2014

You are invited to bring your guide dog, friends and family on a 7-day voyage roundtrip from San Francisco, CA, along the California Coast & Baja Mexico aboard the Star Princess®. There will be four ports to visit and two sea days for relaxing and shipboard fun. On excursions ashore, you may visit Solvang or do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley; visit the Getty Museum or Grauman’s Chinese Theatre & the Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles; or explore San Diego’s waterfront or Balboa Park.

Experienced escort Andi Cercos will host the cruise. There will be dog lifejackets, a private safety drill and ship orientation tour for our group, reserved front row theatre seating, a relieving area for guide dogs and dog play time on deck. Menus in pdf format are available in advance upon request.

The ship offers deluxe staterooms, fine dining, cozy lounges, swimming pools, spa & fitness center, casino, Movies Under the Stars®, adult sanctuary, boutiques and exciting evening entertainment.


Day 1 – Depart San Francisco

Day 2 - At Sea

Day 3 – Ensenada, Mexico

Day 4 - Long Beach (Los Angeles)

Day 5 - San Diego

Day 6 - Santa Barbara

Day 7 - At Sea

Day 8 – Return to San Francisco

For more information or to book your vacation contact Andi Cercos, DIMENSIONS IN TRAVEL, 800-828-2962 or 415-883-3245, .


As you know the Alumni Association Board offers a Speakers Series program via conference call every other month to GDB Alumni. Our last two presentations, Alternative Health for Dogs and Emergency Preparedness, were very interesting and informative and we thought we would recap some of the highlights for you. You can also check out recordings of the presentations on the GDB website under the Alumni tab on the Alumni Information page. If you have any ideas for topics for future discussions, please contact Theresa Stern at .

Alternative Health Tips for Your Guide

By The Outreach Committee

During the November Speaker Series call hosted by Alumni Association board member and Reiki student, Gary Norman, GDB grads were treated to a presentation about complementary health and wellness therapies.

Alumna Chelsie Bowden of Washington state and healing touch user, Christina Deutsch of Maryland taught us that when allopathic veterinary medicine is combined with alternative health tools, Dogs respond well to non-traditional treatments like aromatherapy and therapeutic touch.

Aroma Therapy / Essential Oils

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine incorporating volatile plant materials, known as essential oils and other aromatic compounds for treating mood, cognitive function or health. Aromatherapy for canines can be used in the same ways humans use it. Essential oils can be inhaled directly from the hand or bottle, or they can be diffused into the air with a diffuser. The oils can also be rubbed on the handler’s hands and stroked across the dog’s body or placed directly on the dog’s toe pads. Specific essential oils can be used to repel insects, for relaxation, to relieve itchy skin or motion sickness, or to reduce pain; some specific applications are lavender for relaxation, tea tree, eucalyptus or citronella to repel fleas and other insects, and willow bark for pain. Essential oils are non-toxic and environmentally friendly. Depending on a client’s needs, Chelsie uses both massage and essential oils, often both. Chelsie says, “Dogs need massage for the same reasons we do, to loosen muscles, to relieve physical or emotional symptoms and for relaxation.”

Healing Touch/Energetics

Healing Touch is an energy therapy in which practitioners consciously use their hands in a heart-centered and intentional way to tap into the energy field of humans or animals. Practitioners of therapeutic touch state that by placing their hands on, or near, a patient, they are able to detect and manipulate the patient's energy field. This healing touch initiates the relaxation response which releases endorphins, increases circulation, increases oxygen levels, regulates the immune system and leads to the body’s ability to heal itself. Closely related is Reiki which is a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient's body and restore physical and emotional well-being.

Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine but is often not based on evidence gathered using the scientific method. It consists of a wide range of health care practices, products and therapies, using alternative medical diagnoses and treatments which typically have not been included in the degree courses of established medical or veterinary schools or used in conventional medicine. Other examples of alternative medicine include homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. If you are considering the use of any of these therapies, Guide Dogs for the Blind recommends that you first discuss them with your dog’s veterinarian.

Top Ten Things to Do Before The Next Emergency or Disaster

By Maile George with Jasmine

Our January Speakers Series call was focused on emergency preparedness. We were very fortunate to have Jenine Stanly share her wealth of knowledge with us. Here are ten things we can all do to prepare ourselves for an emergency.

  1. Identify and educate a trusted caregiver for your Guide Dog in case you become incapacitated.
  2. Assemble an emergency kit for yourself and your Guide Dog. (Tip - include your dog’s favorite chew toy)
  3. Place an identification card in your wallet or an ICE (in case of emergency) app on your Smart phone.
  4. Review your emergency plans with your dog’s veterinarian and ask for a current copy of your dog’s vaccination record.
  5. Purchase a pet first aid kit or assemble one of your own. Take a canine first aid class and / or download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app.
  6. Check water and rotate monthly.
  7. Check food and rotate every two months.
  8. Check medications and refresh after expiration date
  9. Develop emergency/evacuation plans based on the types of emergencies that could potentially occur in your area.
  10. Introduce yourself and your Guide Dog to your local fire and police departments. Ask them to explain the community’s emergency/disaster plan. You may also want to ask where local emergency shelters are located and if arrangements can be made for transporting people with disabilities to the shelters. Remember FEMA requires that every community have a disaster plan.

Checklist for a Guide Dog Emergency Evacuation Kit

By Maile George with Jasmine

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the types of emergencies that can occur where you live and prepare accordingly. Planning ahead can make all the difference in securing the best possible outcome. When you are prepared with an emergency plan and an emergency kit appropriate for your area, you are more likely to be calm and confident in case of an emergency. Staying calm will be particularly important since your Guide Dog will be attuned to your emotional state.

What to include in your Guide Dog’s emergency kit:

- Sturdy backpack or sports duffle for carrying/storing items.

- Emergency identification card (tip - fold this ID card to the shape of your other ID card and keep it with you at all times). You can also purchase a USB thumb drive, transfer identification information and a photo of you and your Guide Dog and attach it to your key chain and/or to your dog’s collar. If you have a Smart phone, download an ICE (in case of emergency) app. Regardless of how you store the information, you should include:

  1. Guide Dogs for the Blind contact information (In case you’re separated from your Guide Dog).
  2. Your dog’s name
  3. Your dog’s breed, color and gender
  4. Tattoo ID and where it is on your dog’s body
  5. Microchip information, if applicable
  6. Name, address and telephone numbers of your dog’s veterinarian
  7. The name of your dog’s caregiver and his/her telephone number
  8. Name of special food if your dog is on a prescribed diet
  9. Name of medications taken daily/weekly and monthly

- One week supply of the food you normally feed your dog (tip - 8 lb. bag works well). Be sure to Rotate every two months.

- At least one week supply of your dog’s Medications, if any, and be sure to check expiration dates regularly.

- At least 2 gallons of water or approximately one week supply. Rotate/change once a month.

- Clean up bags and re-sealable bags (to keep things dry).

- Guide Dog certification. Be ready to provide proof to shelter personnel that your dog is a Guide Dog, even though this is not required by law, it is a good idea to have on hand.