As each of you joined me in my countdown of Arby’s retirement, I also wanted to have you join me on my journey to receive my new guide dog.  I have been sitting down each evening journaling my thoughts as I step once again through this process.  I hope you enjoy reading along as each day passed by.  

Day 1

September 13: Sitting in my room this evening there is much excitement and questioning running through my being – Yes, once again I am here on the Oregon campus for Gide Dogs for the Blind. This afternoon my guide dog Arbuckle started retirement and I am starting a new chapter in my life.

Sitting here there are those questions once again. What breed will it be?  What sex?  What will its name be?  Will I be able to trust him or her?  How will this dog react when I take ahold of the harness and give the command, “Forward?”

As I prepare to go to sleep this night there are visions of guide dogs running through my head; Yellow or Black Labrador, Golden or Golden cross?  Will I be able to sleep, and will I trust this new dog?  Once we are a team, where will all of these adventures take me?  

Tune in tomorrow as you see Monday is Dog Day!

Wags to You!

Day 2

September 14: Monday morning started and we all gathered for breakfast. As we enjoyed getting acquainted there was a sense of anticipation in the air.  Especially for those of us who are retrains or retreads as I like to call them.

Breakfast was then followed by a meeting where we were introduced to all of the class instructors and given a rundown on what was going to happen for the day.  This was then followed with some Juno work. Juno is the imaginary dog which allows the instructors to work with each student giving them exposure to the commands which the student will then transfer to the dogs.  This would then be followed with a quick Juno walk outside the campus, where the instructors would finalize their evaluations and complete their matching process.

After Juno training, we went back in for some lunch – Everyone was excited for what was to come next! Once lunch was over we were told to return to our room and await a knock on our door.  Yes the next knock would be from our instructor who would be there with a furry, four legged friend.

As I sat in my room the same questions started racing through me.  What would its name be?  What kind of dog would I get? Would it be a male or a female?  Would this dog like me?  Would I be able to trust this animal?  What would happen when I had the opportunity to take ahold of the harness and give that first Forward command?

As I sat there contemplating all of this there was a knock on my door.  I quickly grabbed the empty leash and opened the door, letting Candis (our GDB Instructor) in along with the dog she had for me.  “Clark”, she stated – “you are receiving Aurelia a Golden Retriever, Yellow Labrador cross.  After I placed the leash on Arelia  I had the opportunity to take my hands and look at her completely. Arelia and I then took some time to bond, playing, being silly, and having some cuddle time. 

Later that day, there was another knock on the door and Candis told me to grabe your harness and lets go take the first walk.  As she said this and I grabbed my harness there was a flood of emotion that caught me off guard.  Excitement and gratitude overwhelmed me as I took ahold of the leash and let Candis take me outside. I was blown away by this gift that would once again provide freedom of mobility and allow me to go do where I want, when I want and do that as a team

Once outside I took ahold of the harness with a sweaty palm and gave the command “Forward”, Aurelia shifted gears and took off, this little girl is what I will call my sports car.  Not sure what model but a sports car.  Low to the ground, quick on the turns and yes, once again I have 4paw drive fully equipped with leather accessories and pawsey traction rear-end!

Day 3

September 15: This day, much like every day, started early. The difference this morning was that now along with getting ready for all that the day would bring, I needed to take care of my 4pawed friend. So… wake up – coffee would have to wait (I know this shocks those of you that know me!) get Miss Aurelia up, fed, watered, relieved and ready for the day and then I get to finish getting ready. After breakfast we would load the bus and head to Gresham.  Upon reaching Gresham we would be oriented to the building and after a refresher with Juno, start working our dogs on the streets. 

After our refresher course it was out to the streets. Aurelia was ready to rock n’ roll and so was I. The sky was grey and the air cool, but it was time to take my sports car out for a drive, so we put it in forward motion and away we went. It did not take me long to realize with a new harness handle she was ready to step out and show me what she was made of.  I was impressed and it did not take us long to hit cruise control.

Once we had done our route we returned to the downtown lounge to wait for the others. Candis said we looked great and she was eager to work us over a longer route. After lunch when it was once again my turn Candis would say let’s go and we would harness up and head outside for a longer walk.  Aurelia let us know that just because she is small does not mean that she does not have a heart that does not want to work and please.  Yes this little lady will work all day and then play just as hard.

Once again GDB I am impressed on how you take my profile, the dogs you have in your string and match us together.  Way to go and keep up the awesome work!

Day 4

September 16:  It’s hard to imagine it was only Monday afternoon when I met my sports car Aurelia.  Today we moved one step further as we went into Portland to start city work. This meant we loaded up in minivans and headed into the city to learn how the dogs worked in the heavy foot traffic, around vehicles and many different obstacles that only a city can bring.

After being oriented to the Portland building we would start working in the city. Now, being introduced to everything in a city environment means learning how to deal with, flat curbs, light rail tracks, and sidewalks full of pedestrians during the lunch rush.  Then there are the dog distractions in city parks and streets with busy traffic which are all situations that the dogs are introduced too.

We had a fantastic morning route, weaving our way in and out of people and dog distractions we then managed to make it back to our destination of the downtown building. After lunch I was informed that my instructor had to return for a meeting on campus so I was turned over to another instructor and she was the person who I worked with for Arbuckle.  Yes it was a blast from the past and a great chance to reconnect.

Once we completed our daily workouts and returned to campus, we were told that we could start relieving our dogs outside our rooms in our covered patios.  This would also become one of the areas for grooming our dogs. Another item that we got to introduce to our dogs today was toys!  This is always a happy day for me as I get to see the playful side of my dog.  You see, when I request a new dog I want one to work to the letter and then when it is play time play as hard as they work.  Aurelia is a playful dog and since she is of Golden origin she has what is known as the Golden Wiggle which is a sight to behold! Yes K9 fans this little lady knows how to play about as hard as she works which makes me a very happy man.

Day 5

September 17: Sitting in my room this evening I am listening to rain fall gently outside, the pitter patter of the drops are soothing and rhythmic. I am relaxed and thinking about this past week, I cannot believe that this is the end of day 5.  Where oh where has the time gone?  Recapping today’s activities, I realize that a lot has been covered in a short amount of time.  We started out the day by loading the vans once again and heading in to Portland.  Once we reached the city we were quickly picking up our harness handles and heading for the building that has been our home base. Reaching the building it would be time to head out and work on individual techniques. This would mean learning how to perform moving turns for getting in and out of a building.  At the same time we would start modifying our dog’s vocabulary.  Our dogs are very well educated and understand certain words, soon they will understand more and be able to target certain areas and assist at a higher level.

After we did two routes in Portland we headed to a local Target store to work inside and allow the dogs to see what it was like to shop and perform our moving turns inside buildings.  This also allowed the instructors to see if there were issues with toys or other things that might trigger the dogs to be distracted.  Aurelia and I passed with flying colors.

One of the things I am quickly learning is how intelligent she is but also that she has a sensitive side, this would be typical as she is female, I may not totally understand it, but I have learned to accept and embrace it (young men, you would be wise to take heed to that). Once again as I continue to watch my little sports car interact with traffic, pedestrians and all of the other items out on the street, I marvel at how wonderful this organization is with their matching of person and dog, I know I have said it before but it must be stated again, GDB keep up the awesome work!

Wags to You!

Day 6

September 18: Friday started like every other morning this week; Prepping for the day, feeding and relieving Aurelia, followed by breakfast for me, followed by the morning activities.  After gathering up all of our gear we would load the vans and head into Portland for another day of training.

This day under the blue skies of a gorgeous fall morning would have us working on travel routes, clicker training, escalators and overhanging objects. As we parked the van and gathered up our gear we were excited to head for the downtown building. Arriving at the building I was first out for morning routes.  Walking up the first block I was informed by my instructor that there was a plant sale happening in the city and the proceeds were going back to GDB. Candis asked me if I would mind stopping by (if we had enough time) and doing a little PR work.  I answered yes let’s do it!  On our way back from this route we stopped and spent about 5 minutes thanking this organization for everything they were doing to continue the program.

After lunch my route would have me entering Pioneer Square to do escalator training.  This meant putting booties on Aurelia’s back paws and walking to the mall. After entering I was given a layout of the building and it was time to go and see how she worked on escalators. It was as I thought - she was a little champ up and down like she had done this a thousand times.  This was just one more reason to have confidence in this little sports car.

After returning to the GDB campus I would be introduced to clicker training.  This is always fun for the dogs because it is like a game with the end resulting in getting fed kibble. Let me tell you something, these dogs like their food and will work well when they are rewarded. After completing clicker training I was picked up without Aurelia as I was headed home to Seattle for a speaking engagement Saturday morning. This meant a 3 hour bus ride and had me being picked up by Karrie.  Throwing open the sliding door on our van I would be met by Arby my retired guide dog.  I would have my face cleaned and be investigated by his sniffing nose.  “Okay, where have you been and who have you been with,” was what I am sure was racing through his doggie brain.

Day 7

September 19:  Waking Saturday morning in my own house without a working guide was very strange.  Traveling home the night before without a dog and now waking up without one as well… this is just weird. After Arby, my retired guide, was let out of our daughters room he raced downstairs like a silly puppy, as this this is the best time of the day for him, breakfast! He runs as fast as he can down the stairs, slipping and sliding as he takes the corner and after hitting the carpet regains his footing and continues to the garage door. There he stands wagging from one end to the other waiting for me to take him out and feed him. After he was fed and relieved Jacob our son took him for a walk and Arby was happy.

Once I had prepped for the day it was time to load the van and head to the Newcastle library.  We were immediately welcomed by Vicki Heck and already had people waiting to meet us.  Just as we were getting ready to start the puppy raisers from Paws of Promise arrived with 2 puppies and a table full of literature.

I began the presentation explaining what a guide dog does and why someone like me would want a guide dog.  I then explained the program and how Guide Dogs for the Blind operates. It was then that it hit me.  Standing there explaining how this program makes it possible for one such as myself to receive this amazing gift of mobility, an unstoppable wave washed over me.  This huge amount of emotion and realization that I was retiring a great friend and companion, one who had been there for the last 7 years and who was not going to be at my side as my guide after today.  This was new to me as I was midstream in training with a new dog and yet back with my old dog. Not a new experience in retiring a guide, but definitely a new experience in going back and forth.

After regaining my composure I continued my presentation on Guide Dogs and I had the Puppy Club come up and share their role in the process. We concluded by answering questions and it was time to head back to the house grab my overnight bag and head back to the bus stop, a whirlwind day!

I climbed on the bus as I said goodbye to my wife realizing that the next time I saw her that I would be graduating with my new guide Aurelia.  Settling in I relaxed for the next 3 hours and arrived back in Portland. GDB sent a representative to drive me back to the campus where I would walk to my instructor’s office to retrieve my sports car.  Upon entering the room she went into crazy mode, like saying where OMG where have you been.  Why did you not take me with you?  Aurelia and I would return to my room and spend some time playing and reassuring her that all is well.

As I write this article Aurelia is lying on the floor content at my feet knowing that her life is good and okay and her handler is back.

Day 8

September 20: This day is a day off from training which allows both the student and the dog an opportunity to relax and enjoy the day. This is a day to do laundry, have guests come visit, go off campus and work on anything you want to. It’s also a great time to play with your dog and allow them to regroup and be ready for training.

One of the other things that happens which is wonderful for the students is that the kitchen staff does a Sunday brunch which lasts from 10-2pm.  This means you can come to the dining room and order what you want during this time.  Custom made omelets, pancakes, and any combination or side options by themselves. Great staff, great food, great fun which makes all the hard work worth it!

I was fortunate to have some very good friends come and visit me Sunday afternoon.  They took my very first guide dog, Missy, when she retired.  I was thrilled to have company to visit with and to introduce my dog to.  It was great to see her silly and social side come out, although Aurelia is a trained guide dog given the opportunity she is still a people driven, socially oriented dog.

After dinner it was time to settle in and watch some Sunday night football, Go Seahawks!

It was a great day to get refueled, filled up with great friends reconnecting and getting some much needed rest.  We will be ready to go back to work training Monday morning.

Go Hawks!

Day 9

September 21: It’s now Monday of the second week of training.  This day started much like the previous weeks with breakfast with fellow students. As we ate and conversed about different aspects of blindness, we talked about the fact that 5 out of the 6 of us in training have RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) the disease that took my sight.  But even after talking a bit about that, we always managed to return the conversation back to our dogs.  Training was going well and everyone was excited.

After breakfast it was time for a short lecture about working platforms for light rail and subways.  As this would wrap up we would relieve our dogs, gather up anything we would need for the day and head to Portland.

Parking the van we would be informed that we would be practicing on platform work, light rail travel, followed with second route for the day featuring escalator work.  Yes we did some of this Friday but Candis wanted to make sure we were on top of It so we worked to the mall and then up and down on escalators.  Aurelia was spot on and ready to rock n roll.

During both of our training routes we would interact with heavy pedestrian traffic.  My sports car knows how to maneuver whether it is to shift gears and slow down, push in the clutch and gear up or use her pawsey traction rear end for a quick stop.  Yes a little wind in the face and hair waving and all are good.

After returning to campus it was time for dinner both for Aurelia and me.  It is important to have a belly full and well fueled engine as it makes for a very happy guide dog and therefore a happy me!  This would then be followed by loading the bus and heading to Gresham for an evening route.  This is what we retreads know as a night route.  This allows you to see if your dog handles the dark well or if there are issues that spook them. The night sky was no problem for my girl as she determined to do just one more route and one more time to let me know she has this under control.  It was if she was saying “I’m not sure where we are going but I will definitely get you there safely.  Trust me and allow me to bless your life and I will show you how to be blessed by my silly golden personality.”

Wags to You!

Day 10

September 22: Exiting my room this morning I felt the tinge of fall in the air, crisp and cool, causing my dog to be frisky as she exited my room into the relieving run. Yes both of us were excited and anticipated a great day in the glorious beauty of Oregon.

As we headed to breakfast for a time of fueling and chatting about the activities for the day we discovered that this day was scheduled for our traffic checks.  After breakfast we would again load the bus and head to town so that we could individually be tested on how our dogs would react when we had a traffic check.

Just so you understand, a traffic check means a situation where you either have a vehicle in front of you with an engine running, a car turn in front of you cutting you off from your path, or you have a vehicle backing up while you are walking.  You need to know how your dog will act when any of these potential traffic situations happen. Each handler and their dog are given a controlled route knowing that at any time on this route you will be tested. This safe but real scenario allows you to understand what and how your dog will react when you need them too keeping you safe as you travel.

After this was completed we returned to campus to have our vet checks.  Each student had an individual exam with the veterinarian and we then returned to the fire side room to talk in general terms about veterinary care for each of our dogs. Lunch was then served and Doctor Patti joined us and we had a great time of question and answer, allowing us more time to chat about any veterinary questions and any other topics we wanted to discuss but did not have time for.

After lunch we headed out to do sidewalk-less training.  I was very interested to see how my girl would handle this since the area we live in does not have sidewalks.  Now she has been handling most everything with flying colors, but this afternoon she had her buttons pushed.  This happened as we tried out her gentle leader so that she might not sniff along the route and shortly after we started we encountered a cat.  Now Aurelia has seen many cats along the way but this afternoon it pushed her buttons into what our instructor calls twitter pated.  It was good to see how she reacted and some of this action was re-demonstrated afterwards as we visited a pet store.  Aurelia kept her head on what she was doing but she was distracted by small animals like mice, chinchillas, ferrets, cats and birds.  She worked the store but these animals caused her some stress. Overall she did quite well.

Upon returning to campus we completed our evening routine with food, water, and a time to relieve her. We both grabbed a couple of minutes to relax for a bit, have dinner and then we had the opportunity to be introduced to a doggie massage, a method for relaxing the dogs after a long day.  Aurelia felt quite special and I am sure that this helped her to know how much I appreciated her keeping me safe and all of her hard work. 

Wags to you!

Day 11

September 23: As I exited my room I was met by the chill of the air as I stepped out to the relieving area.  The chill of the air invigorated both Aurelia and me.

This morning the discussion at breakfast was on puppy raisers as we all were wondering when and if we would receive a phone call letting us know who they were and where they were from and any other pertinent information. When breakfast was done, I would come back to my room and gather up my working gear and be informed by our instructor what the plan was for the day. Our instructor informed us that we would be heading to Portland to work on buses, light rail and escalators.

As we were talking in the van on our way to Portland, we laughed, shared stories of our week and talked about what our day would look like. The trip did not take long and we parked the van, unloaded and the day was in progress.  Dannie and I would work together on our way to the downtown building.  Arriving we would be informed we needed our dog’s booties so we gathered these up and then we were off

Exiting the building we were given our route which would take us first to a bus stop about two blocks away from the downtown building.  This would give us practice on loading, riding and exiting buses.  After a quick ride on a downtown bus we exited and worked a two block radius where we would wait for a light rail.  While waiting we would do a little obedience work with our dogs.  Then before we knew it our light rail was approaching.  We boarded and rode a short 6 blocks and exited, leaving the light rail and worked through the US Bank Tower heading for a downtown shopping mall.  Here we would stop by a bench and boot up our dogs for escalator work. 

The booties are small, canvas, slip on covers, which slip on over the dog’s paws.  There is a Velcro strap that wraps around the leg at the top of the bootie and secures the bootie onto the paw. On the bottom of the bootie you will see small rubber nubs giving them traction on slick surfaces. Watching the dogs wearing these is a little like watching a child with shoes on for the first time; A little confusion, a little apprehension, but tentatively willing to try to walk and work.

After riding a few escalators up and down we would leave the building head for the relieving area.  Now you have to understand it was lunch time and the streets were filled with pedestrians giving us more training and my little sports car said bring it on!  She weaves in and out, stops on a dime if she needs too and then shifts gears once again getting up to the necessary speed.   There is nothing like having a little sports car!  After returning to the building, we watered the dogs, ate lunch and did some additional sidewalk-less work. We then would return to campus for a lecture on how to work the security section of the airport.

Returning to my room I found myself getting excited as I realized I had a message on my phone letting me know I would have puppy raisers at graduation.  I still did not know who they were and where they were from, I just knew they were coming.

After dinner I returned to my room to work on my computer.  Shortly after I sat down, my phone began to ring. As I answered it I knew this was the call all of us had been waiting for - Puppy Raisers!  After a half hour conversation I was excited that not only had I talked to the puppy raisers, they had let me know they were going to be here Saturday.  There is nothing better than graduating with a new guide dog and having puppy raisers here to present this well trained puppy to me. Saturday is closing in, the puppy raisers are coming and my family will be here. How much better can a celebration get?

Day 11 comes to a close and soon it will be Saturday!

Wags to You!

Day 12

Closing in on G day, end of training and beginning of moving out into life with a working guide dog.  None of this would ever have been feasible if I had never had faith to grab ahold of the leash to be connected and then to take ahold of the harness and trust the dog to assist you in getting from point A to point B.

This morning came after a restless night sleep.  Phone call evening before from our puppy raiser, knowing they will be here for graduation  and  that soon the goal that we came back to the campus of GDb will be completed.

Thursday started like eachg and every day.  Feeding, watering and relieving our dog.  breakfast time had a almost giddy sense with each student.  Discussing the  day activities and listeninbg to the fact that all 6 of us are ready to head home and begin our  life with our dog.

After breakfast we loaded up the vans and headed into Greshum where Dannie and I would complete our route for the morning as our instructor acknowledged yes you  have done a great job, your dog is working well and you are ready to go home.

Returned to campus for lunch and after filling our bellies with scrumptious  dormitory food we would then load the bus for an afternoon of hiking.  Yes we would drive about half way up Mount Hood to a day hike area.  Unloading we would be taught some new skills on how to work our dogs in a hiking environment.  Yes skills that would allow us to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors wherever that might be.  Walking  through the woods it was awesome to listen to the sounds of nature.  Wind whistling through the pines, the incredible smell of  pine trees and then there was  the rush of the water in the stream that ran along the walkway.

Returning to campus we would then go over service information that is available to all of us grads upon returning home and then after dinner we were able to do what we needed to do to prepare towards exiting.  Yes first timer or  retred it soon will be time to pick up your harness, give your dog the proper command to proceed, follow your dog and go out and have many years of safe and awesome travel.

Wags to You!

Aurelia

Day 14

September 26:  G-DAY!!  Graduation Day!  Whether this is your 1st, 3rd, or for me my 6th, the feelings are always the same…gratitude, joy, excitement, feeling of accomplishment and anticipation of all that is to come.

I awoke Saturday morning after a restless night’s sleep, as I was ready for this day to arrive.  Waking that morning it started as usual – by now even you as my readers know the drill, feed, water, and relieve my dog Aurelia and then it would be breakfast time for us students.

As I entered the cafeteria Saturday morning all of us were in a joyful mood.  Jokes were flying around the table and you could tell we were all ready for this day, Graduation Day!  This day marks the completion of our training and for me it was my official completion with dog #6.

After breakfast was over it was time to head back to my room to finish packing.  There was no training today, no field trips, no hikes, and no last minute lessons to learn.  Once graduation would conclude I would be picking up my gear and heading home.

Entering my room and placing Aurelia on her tie down so that I could be free to pack and not have her under foot; I wondered how it would it be once I arrived home for Mr. Arbuckle, my retired guide?  How would Aurelia and I continue to bond and become a well working unit in society?  What would my family think once they met her?  These and many, many more questions were running through my head as I packed.

Looking at my watch I realized I had about an hour to relax before things would begin to get busy for the graduation schedule. Before I knew it lunch was being served and once over I would then return to my room to change clothes and prepare myself to meet both of my puppy raisers and their family.  Dressing for success, both Aurelia and I were looking very smart!

Now that I was at the end of this journey I was given the information that my raisers were Adult Raisers and lived in Southern California.  Aurelia was their very first guide puppy and this only spurred them on to attend their first graduation as they had succeeded in having a dog graduate.  I am very glad they did as Aurelia is a perfect team mate for me.  Aurelia and I had the opportunity Friday evening to meet Victoria, get acquainted with her and for Aurelia to get some of her silly Golden energy out of her the night before.

As I sat in my room this morning I had the same excitement that I felt the very first time.  I listened for the footsteps and the knock on my door. It was time to go and meet both of the raisers.  I did not put Aurelia in her harness as the trainer tells you that that you can expect your dog to go crazy.  I was not a stranger to this and looked forward to the mayhem. This is a reunion for the dog and raiser as much as it is a time for me.

After you have had about an hour to talk about your dog, how the training has gone and you get to find out anything else you want; you are then taken out for a photo session.  First it is just handler and dog and then it is handler, dog and puppy raisers.  After the photo shoot we would have a little more time to talk and then it was time to go relieve the dogs one last time before graduation began.

The great thing about this day for the dogs is that they get to go with their puppy raisers until the puppy raiser presents them officially to their new team mate.  My GDB instructor guided me into the visitor center to be seated with the other graduates until graduation began.

As I took my seat I once again was enveloped by this large wave of emotion as I waited for graduation to start.  Sitting there I was reminded of the five prior times.  I sat and listened as each person ahead of me received their dog, told a little of their story, and the puppy raisers officially let go of their puppy for the last time.  It was emotional for everyone. 

Before I knew it I would be escorted to the platform to be handed a leash attached to a wiggling 19 month old female golden/yellow Labrador retriever named Aurelia. As I took the leash in my left hand and was given the microphone I once again was reminded of the importance of the leash.  This is the connection between man and dog, but it is not just between man and dog.  This tool which has been created to do many things is what starts the whole process.

A puppy raiser receives an 8 or 10 week old puppy from a truck out of a crate with food, leash and instructions on how to socialize this new little 4pawed creation.  Attached to this leash is a puppy club to help the raiser learn the rules as they socialize the puppy and watch it grow up in front of them.  In a blink of an eye it is time to return the (almost full grown) dog to GDB for training.  At this time a group of kennel staff take over and work with the dogs and place them with instructors who teach them how to lead in harness, walk not pull, and teach them what to do in each and every situation you can imagine.  Crossing intersections, flat curbs, high curbs, over-hanging objects, escalators, and airports just to mention a few of the things.  Then you receive a phone call letting you know they have a dog ready for you.  A match made with a little bit of magic and a lot of studying of the dog and a profile of the visually impaired individual. You then sit back and watch to see if they were correct … they usually are.

Students come from many different states and countries. Just like me, they are here to receive a tool which would give confidence and freedom to go back out in society and live a full life, doing what we want to do.  This day and this time marked the celebration of this occasion.

As I waited for this all to take place my mother and father-in-law came up and gave me a hug as they were there to celebrate with me.  Just before things were about to start I got a great big hug and a kiss from my wife as she let me know that she and the kids were here and that she was so proud of me.  To know that my family and friends were there to support me meant the world to me as this is the first time I had anyone attend my graduation. Graduation began and before I knew it we were done and Aurelia was mine. 

I don’t ever want to forget how many hands and hearts it takes to get this dog from the beginning to the end goal of graduation (tip of nose to tip of tail).  From the time the dog gets back to the GDB campus for formal training the staff does its job with great success.  From the instructors, to the nurses in the dormitory who are there 24/7, to the kitchen staff who makes sure we have our bellies fueled for a day, to the administrative staff, veterinary and kennel staff and many, many, others.  Thank You!

These are all of the people that I now become connected too because I had the faith to pick up a leash, grab ahold of a harness, give a command to go forward and then choose to TRUST. Trust the guide dog that he or she would get me where I needed to go - safely.

I do not know how long this little sports car will guide for me but I pray that it is a long time down the road. I also pray that Guide Dogs for the Blind continue to make these dogs available to people like me and so many others.

Thank you GDB, thank you family for continuing to support me, thank you John and Victoria for raising Aurelia and thank you God for giving me the faith and strength to pick up a leash and trust a dog.

Wags to You!

Clark Roberts & Aurelia