Thursday, July 8, 2021

Woman with her arm around a yellow Lab guide dog.

 “Angela” Kennedy

April 28, 2006 – June 27, 2020

“Hello, I’m here!”    Angela wouldn’t just walk into a room, she pranced into a room, and she expected attention, which she most certainly always got!  She had a cute sassy gait, and her tail curved straight up,  wagging like a metronome   She had a way of getting your attention by staring into your eyes.   Angela’s personality was larger than life.  She was exuberant and irrepressible.  My princess made friends wherever we went.  She was tiny, weighing in at 50lbs.  She had the nickname “da Peanut.”    A real mighty might, she was!

Angela was a beautiful yellow Lab, who was puppy raised by the dynamic Mother Daughter duo, Gayle and Jenna Bittner, from Danville, CA.  Angela was their first puppy.  They always said that though she was very small, she was a handful.  We never doubted it!   Angela was always such a happy dog, always having a wide smile on her face.  Her “joie de vivre” attitude was with her till the very end.  Clearly Angela had assimilated the funny, super energetic personality of Gayle.  Just adorable!  God bless them both!  :o)

Angela was my great second guide, and she was a wonderful companion.  We traveled quite a bit for my board meetings at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael. She had two speeds.  She had her regular guide pace, but whenever we were at airports she went to warp speed.  We flew through the airports without bumping into people or tripping over baggage …. she meant business and wanted everyone to know that we were coming through!  Often, airport assists had to ask us to slow down!  LOL

Da Peanut guided me for just short of 10 years.  Then it was time to let her enjoy retirement.   In February of 2017, she reluctantly accepted my third guide, Buddy.  She and Buddy got along fine, but she was not as close to him as she was to my first guide, Freida.  Those two were especially close.  When Freida passed away, Angela mourned her passing for almost 3 months.

Woman seated with two yellow Lab. They are overlooking a golf course.

When she retired, she became “Daddy’s Dog,” but she still was quite velcroid to me.  Whenever I worked in the kitchen or on my computer, she was always there, watching me.

Her presence is still here, in our hearts.   Jim and I miss her so very much.  Buddy mourned for weeks after she passed, wandering about the house looking for her so he could go play with her.

Thank you, my dear Angela, for being my guide and keeping me safe, while at the same time making so many new friends along the way.   Peanut, you are so missed by all of us.  We smile, thinking of you romping in the lavender fields in heaven with Freida.

Love you, Peanut, and a hui hou! (until we meet again.)

Your mommy, Vickie, and Buddy

Thursday, July 1, 2021

"Freida" Kennedy

 “Freida” Kennedy

A yellow Lab guide dog in harness.

November 10, 1988 – June 16, 2011

Today marks the 10 anniversary of when my precious Freida crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  Freida was a wonderful guide, my first guide, who knew exactly what to do.  She was a miracle given to me by Guide Dogs for the Blind on June 5, 2000..  You taught her once, and she never forgot.

I truly believe that “things really happen for a reason.”  I was originally partnered with Nettles for 5 days, but she did not work out and was “career changed.”  So, Charles introduced me to Freida.  She was so very sweet, came up to me and licked the tears from my cheeks.  Although I was to lose total vision a few days later, I was so grateful to able to see her beautiful eyes.  She and I became inseparable.  Freida was an extraordinary guide, knowing exactly what to do, with hardly a command.  I think she could read my mind.  Really.  She was quite the elegant lady too, always crossing her dainty paws whenever she laid down.

Freida was raised by the amazing Sandy Thomas in Mesa, AZ, the third of 17 puppies she raised.  Sandy says that Freida was the easiest puppy she raised.

We had a real scare in 2006 when dear Freida was diagnosed with what turned out to be a very large mass cell tumor.  I could have lost her, if it wasn’t for GDB’s Dr. Craig Dietrich’s awesome skills as a surgeon.  God bless him, he gave us 5 more years with precious Freida.   Love you, Doc!

Thank you, dear Freida, for your almost 8 years of impeccable guide work.  You guided me so beautifully and always watched out for the little holes on the sidewalks, guiding me around dangerous obstacles.  I always felt like a passenger in your limo.

You are now my angel on my shoulder, together with Angela, watching Buddy and me.  You set the bar high for Angela, and now Buddy.   You were the next best thing to having my sight back.

Aloha dear Freida and a hui hou (until we meet again).  You are in a very special place in my heart, together with Angela,

Your mommie, Vickie

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Pawprints on my Heart

Please enjoy this audio-video tribute to Hugh, the wonderful guide and companion to Fran Marie Franks for 11 years, from July 2008 till June 2019. Video and original song by GDB volunteer Lauren RenĂ©e Hotchkiss.

Friday, December 20, 2019

A Tribute to Hawk

On November 22 2009 Hawk came into this world for a very special reason: to become my guide. He was one of six puppies born in the H litter that day. Hawk met his puppy raisers John and Amy at the end of January 2010.

Hawk learned so much from them over the next year and a few months. One very special thing he learned from them was you could tell him to sit and stay and he would as long as you wanted him to stay. He returned to GDB for his formal training at the end of April 2011.

I met my black Hawk on August 31 2011 at 10:00am and knew he was very special.

We had a hard time in the first few walks figuring out each other. Thanks to my class supervisor, Kelly Martin, who used helped us figure it out. We are all trained to use words to help us become a team. It turns out Hawk needed me to not say anything walking down a sidewalk - that would distract him. But I will share that Hawk loved praise at each corner! As soon as we started bonding in training we became a wonderful team that walked at Hawk’s speed until he retired.

We graduated from GDB on September 17, 2011, and yes, his puppy raisers came and he fully enjoyed seeing them.

Hawk enjoyed playing tug from the very first day I received a tug toy. He played tug with many people. Hawk would figured out your strength and played with you at your level.

Hawk always took his time and made sure I was safe when we were out working together as a team. Hawk went to many meetings with me over the years. Hawk made many friends everywhere he went, including other guide dogs.

Hawk settled into our home and from the very first visit from my brother Donald Hawk bonded with him. My brother early the next year started redoing floors in our home and Hawk became known as "Traffic Jam." He would always be where the tools were and most times laying on the next tool my brother was going to use.

In early summer of 2014 Hawk couldn’t cross a street so he semi-retired. On November 1, 2014, he guided me for the last time. He went to live with my brother as a beloved pet.

Two weeks ago we found out that Hawk had spleen cancer. We were hoping for a longer time with him to be able to spoil him, but he took a turn for the worse and we agreed to let him go. When he crossed the rainbow bridge, Hawk was with a small group of people who loved him to the very end.

Love you always my special black Hawk.

- Louise Johnson

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Beautiful Spunky Sparkly Gretchy Girl!

Gretch, lovingly raised by Kristina and Judy Logan and Kathy Hawkins, was according to them,  “the perfect puppy!” So who am I to argue. My first memory of Gretch is sitting on the floor in my room at GDB with my new little yellow labby girl curiously nibbling at the rhinestones on my jeans. I kept that pair forever, but the Gretchy Girl never did that particular cute thing again. Gretch had enough sparkle and spunk that she didn’t need any denim bling to work her magic. Gretch had adventures, like chasing wild turkeys on a deserted beach in Molokai and rolling in Norwegian cow (don’t know that word in Norwegian). Gretch enjoyed showing off her tricks, including ringing my back door bells when she wanted to go out and turning somersaults in my lap finishing big with lots of tail wagging and ankle biting. Those were my ankles.

I will never forget when I returned home from a clicker workshop and was trying to clicker train my cat to play the piano. Gretch became impatient, deciding to show everyone what was required by jumping up and loudly planting her front paws on the thunderous bass keys. From then on,  it was a good idea to keep the lid down unless I wanted an impromptu concert. Gretch grew into her job as a guide while always doing little extras for me like locating Roomba when it didn’t return to its home base and on more than one occasion, locating mittens dropped in snow. She loved jumping up for elevator buttons and APS poles. My little tax day retriever retired just shy of her eleventh birthday when I brought Paxton home. 

She went on to enjoy a life of leisure with the cat and two much younger working male lab guides, to whom she became very attached, adding cougar to her resume. Gretch enjoyed being top dog, getting fed before the guys and going in and out first. Gretch’s journey into old age was peaceful, with her fifteenth birthday representing a satisfying high point two months ago. Her last morning will always be imprinted on my heart, as we enjoyed the gift of one final breakfast she got to start on before the boys  and one final treasured grooming session, where if only briefly, Gretch lifted her front paws for me. Gretch was my fifth guide dog, and she was my favorite, as all of the others have been and will continue to be. Rest in peace, my beautiful spunky sparkly little Gretchy Girl!

Sheila with Paxton

Monday, February 13, 2017

Celebrating the Life of Sebastian

By: Mazen M. Basrawi

It is with great sadness that I share the passing of my guide dog Sebastian. He was an extraordinary dog and lead an extraordinary life, even by guide dog standards. He traveled to 30 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. I am a trial attorney for the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and Sebastian was with me when I appeared in over a dozen federal courts in five states. One judge would insist that he be introduced on the record every time we appeared. He was my secret weapon at trial, distracting the jury with his snores and sleep-barking and sleep-running when the other side put on their case.

For over nine years, Sebastian was a loyal and faithful friend, and always watched out for me, even when I wasn’t working him. He had a gentle and energetic soul, full of youthful exuberance even in his old age. I will never forget how he would put his muzzle underneath my forearm and with a strong jerk, fling it up over his head so that I would pet him. He had an uncanny ability to connect emotionally with almost anyone. He was beloved by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him, including President Obama who called him by name. He was a regular at the White House, and was given the most rare of privileges of going to the residence to drink out of Bo Obama’s bowl; I was not even invited for that particular perk. He was with me in some of my most difficult moments, and some of the best in my life, including in the delivery room when my daughter was born. My family and I are thankful for having shared our lives with him. May he rest in peace.  

In Memoriam of Hayden

By: Angus MacKinnon

On March 19, 2003,
A small bundle of fur said,

And without knowing,
The lives he would change,
And places he would go.

With structure and rules,
He grew into,
A guide dog extraordinary.

As the best present,
A blind person could have,
He introduced freedom.

As he grew into a loving role.
The world loved him back,
While he showed the way.

He gave love, compassion and strength,
To one and all,
Even when the job was done.

As I raise my glass,
I remember how,
He gave and gave and gave.

He is now an angel,
To watch over,
The people needing a guiding light.