Portland, November 6th, 2015. Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) raised a record-breaking $57,000 at this year’s sold-out Oregon Fall Luncheon event at the Nines Hotel in Portland. During the event, eight puppies born at GDB were introduced to the Portland-area local families who will care for them, and teach them basic obedience and manners, during the first year of their lives. Many of GDB’s local puppy raisers have mentored more than 10 puppies on behalf of GDB. After their time with the puppy raisers, the dogs return to one of GDB’s campuses for formal training. GDB is the largest guide-dog school in North America. (Photo credit, Morry Anne Angell)

Barbara Coit Yeager, local philanthropist and long-time GDB supporter (seated), greets a puppy starting its journey to become a guide dog.

Barbara Coit Yeager, local philanthropist and long-time GDB supporter (seated), greets a puppy starting its journey to become a guide dog.

Christine Benninger, the CEO of the nonprofit, sits with local philanthropist and long-time GDB supporter Howard Hedinger as he meets a puppy in training.

Christine Benninger, the CEO of the nonprofit, sits with local philanthropist and long-time GDB supporter Howard Hedinger as he meets a puppy in training.

More than 300 guests gathered to hear blind long-distance hiker and motivational speaker Trevor Thomas talk about his relationship with his guide dog, Tennille, a partnership GDB made possible. GDB was the only guide-dog training organization willing to try to fulfill Thomas’ dream of continuing to hike despite losing his sight.

More than 300 guests gathered to hear blind long-distance hiker and motivational speaker Trevor Thomas talk about his relationship with his guide dog, Tennille, a partnership GDB made possible. GDB was the only guide-dog training organization willing to try to fulfill Thomas’ dream of continuing to hike despite losing his sight.

Tennille rests on stage at the event.

Tennille rests on stage at the event.

“All the other groups told me that guide dogs don’t do what I wanted one to do. I was even told that I was setting a bad example for the blind,” Thomas said. “GDB is progressive. It caters to the changing needs of the blind.” He and Tennille were matched and trained by GDB in 2012. Since then, they have hiked approximately 20,000 miles together. “There are so many trails left to hike and beliefs about blindness that need to be stamped out. Tennille and I are doing it together,” Thomas added.

 In addition to learning how to lead a person safely around obstacles, Guide Dogs are also trained in "intelligence disobedience": if they are given an unsafe command, they are taught to not obey it (for example: refusing to step out into the street when there is oncoming traffic). Guide Dogs are also trained to have impeccable manners (for all those times they must visit places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, grocery stores and public transportation), and are capable of avoiding distractions (such as cats!). In addition, all Guide Dogs possess an eagerness to please and a willingness to work.

In addition to learning how to lead a person safely around obstacles, Guide Dogs are also trained in “intelligence disobedience”: if they are given an unsafe command, they are taught to not obey it (for example: refusing to step out into the street when there is oncoming traffic). Guide Dogs are also trained to have impeccable manners (for all those times they must visit places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, grocery stores and public transportation), and are capable of avoiding distractions (such as cats!). In addition, all Guide Dogs possess an eagerness to please and a willingness to work.

Celebrating 20 Years in Boring

Christine Benninger, CEO of GDB, recognized the importance of the Boring campus to GDB’s success, and thanked local donors and volunteers for their strong support. The Boring campus is celebrating its 20th year.

“Every year, approximately 150 people and their guides are trained at our Boring campus, and hone their skills by working their dogs in downtown Portland. The generosity and hard work of our Oregon staff, volunteers and donors play a critical role in helping us fulfill out life-changing mission,” Benninger said.

From Guide Dogs for the Blind:

GDB is the largest guide-dog school in North America. It prepares highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision. GDB is completely funded by private donations. All of its services are provided free of charge.

GDB has its headquarters in San Rafael, California, and a second campus in Boring, Oregon. Half of the teams that the organization supports are trained at its 13-acre campus in Boring. More than 12,500 teams have graduated since the organization was founded in 1942. Today, there are approximately 2,200 active teams. For more information, visit www.guidedogs.com

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