Finding the perfect pet to add to our family was no easy task. We visited pet stores and pet adoption centers and events in hopes of being able to find our perfect companion, which unexpectedly came to be two companions. That's a story for another time. What if your life depended on having the perfect pet companion? Developing a close personal relationship with a trained guide dog is a more complex relationship than one could ever imagine. The safety and well-being of visually impaired and blind people is the primary concern of trained guide dogs all across the country. During the month of September we celebrate National Guide Dog Month in honor of the dedicated guide dogs that faithfully serve countless acts of service to blind and visually impaired individuals every day.
Thank you to the team from Natural Balance for sponsoring this advertorial with informative content and promotional materials to raise public awareness.
Paws Up for the Guide Dogs Empowering the Visually Impaired & Blind
National Guide Dog Month is a an annual time of celebration of and tribute to the trusted guide dogs serving the visually impaired community throughout North America. National Guide Dog Month is greatly inspired by Dick Van Patten, tremendously impressed by the demonstration of intelligence and intensive training of guide dogs. Following a visit to a local guide dog training school, Van Patten was blindfolded for a firsthand experience of how guide dogs provide mobility and assistance to visually impaired and blind people. Discovering the financial expenses, dedication and commitment required to raise and train guide dogs, he became inspired to help raise public awareness and support for the cause.
In celebration of National Guide Dog month during September, Natural Balance is partnering with Guide Dogs for the Blind. Since its establishment in 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind has empowered the lives of many by creating exceptional partnerships between people, dogs and communities.
* Largest guide dog school in the country.
* Dedicated to providing high quality student training services and extensive follow-up support for graduates.
* Services are provided to students from the United States and Canada at no cost to them.
* Operate two training facilities in San Rafael, CA and Boring, OR.
* More than 2,000 puppy raising families throughout the Western states.
* More than 14,000 teams have graduated since their founding.
* Approximately 2,200 active guide dog teams are currently in the field.
Meet some of the Guide Dogs for the Blind teams behind these inspiring guide dog success stories-
Ashleigh & Yuri - “Being paired with Yuri has changed my life in so many ways. In addition to being my eyes, keeping me safe, and giving me independence, he has also become my best friend—and is constantly by my side,” says Ashleigh. Without Yuri, Ashleigh may have never developed the confidence and independence needed to fulfill her dream of living and working in New York City. She is now able to navigate the city’s fast-paced subway system every day, feeling fully safe and cared for.
Bruce & Marley - Bruce has had the opportunity to work with five different guide dogs—and his life is transformed. He was introduced to his current companion, Marley, through Guide Dogs for the Blind. “The strength of our bond is perhaps the engine behind the enjoyment and success I experience when out on any outing with Marley. When out on an errand, I am relaxed, confident, motivated, safe, and literally having fun. When on a route, I feed off of Marley and what he is doing for me as much as what Marley gets from me in my praise and reinforcement of what a good boy and job he is doing—for us both, as a team. My smile on my face is coming from my heart!”
David & Parnelli - Through his experiences with multiple guide dogs, David’s life has been enriched over the years. He was introduced to his current companion, Parnelli, through Guide Dogs for the Blind. “To have the confidence to go to work or get into a situation you’re not familiar with—it would be substantially harder without him. I have now lived in NYC for almost 10 years, and use all of the resources available including subways, buses, taxis, and Uber to travel around to any part of the city. If I need to see clients in Philadelphia or Washington D.C on a moment’s notice, Parnelli and I navigate Penn Station, hop on the train, and go. Going blind hasn’t always been easy, but doing it without a guide dog would have been impossible.”
Maile & Jasmine - Maile was introduced to her current canine companion, Jasmine, through Guide Dogs for the Blind. “Jasmine is a superhero times three! Not only is she a wonderful companion—there’s no one in the world I’d want to spend all day everyday with except her. She also enables me to navigate any sidewalk in any city safely, gracefully, and confidently. I enjoy volunteer work, taking classes, and I’m 100% convinced that I’m as healthy as I am because it’s just so much fun to get out and meet people when you have an intelligent, gorgeous, healthy, friendly, well-behaved and, yes, perfect guide dog!”
Mary & Regina - Mary was introduced to her current canine companion, a yellow Lab named Regina, through Guide Dogs for the Blind. “Before I had a guide dog, the cane was more of a stigma—but with the dog, I became a people magnet rather than someone who needs to be pitied,” says Mary. Get this: One of Mary’s guide dogs was a flower dog at her wedding, and another attended her graduation! She has also had dogs help her when moving from place to place. Each of them have been an essential part of different important events throughout her life. "My guide dog and I are a team. We travel together, make deci-sions together, and are with each other all of the time. Like any close rela-tionship, we are sensitive to each other’s needs and care about each other.”
Melissa & Camry - Now on her third guide dog, a beautiful black Labrador named Camry—Melissa is an entirely different person. She says that with Camry, her “invisibility clock has been lifted.” Her independence and mobility have been enhanced, and new-found freedom shines through her countless adventures with Camry. The two have traveled to three continents, including North America, Europe, and Asia. Even more importantly, through the highest of highs and lowest of lows, Camry is always by Melissa’s side. From navigating through the chaotic streets of Los Angeles to dodging skateboarders, Camry and Melissa tackle each new obstacle like professionals. Together, the two are ready to conquer the world.
Michelle & Oscar - Michelle knew that the program had done a marvelous job in matching her with her beautiful golden guide dog Oscar—they immediately fell into step with each other, and within two months knew they had a lifelong partnership. Even more surprising was the sheer number of people who approached Michelle on the first day of the new semester. The questions on everyone’s lips were: “Who is your furry friend?”, “Where can I get one?”, and of course “Can I pet him?” With this positive attention, the pair was able to walk with confidence everyday—whether it be on a small grocery shopping trip or a longer trip to visit Michelle’s sister in Los Angeles. Together, the two tackle intense Psychology and Jiu Jitsu classes, but always leave room for playtime.
Tom & Dynamo - “I’ve had four great gifts in my life: my wife, my two kids, and Dynamo,” says Tom. A superhero guide dog and a superhuman athlete, Dynamo and Tom spent their days training and securing their bond for two intensive weeks. They have never looked back. With Dynamo never more than 20 feet away, Tom can listen to the birds sing and feel the wind in his hair without worrying about his safety. The added mental calm that Dynamo gives Tom, and the support and positive reinforcement that Tom gives Dynamo, have helped the two complete a half-marathon together, raising $6,000 for charity. With no signs of slowing down, the two are now planning to hike up Mount Rainier and travel the country— speaking as ambassadors for Guide Dogs for the Blind.