My Journey at Guide Dogs for the Blind

Day 24 or Work Day 1

Just a quick note as I am at work.

Harold and I arrived to the office at about 9:00 this morning and things have been going well.

I took him out for lunch (no, he didn’t eat :)). We did a simple route of about two very long blocks (probably 4 or 5 Gresham blocks) to Jack in the Box. I am not eating there anymore. Their prices have gone through the roof. Well, overall his work was good considering. The issues we had were:

* Approaching the down curb was a bit problematic as we approached the crossing. Having lots of people around probably was a good cause of that.

* Not getting directly to the down curb on the second crossing. This was my fault and was a bit of a surprise as we traveled across the street.

* Running the up curb (no step up). I showed it to him and told him “careful” and his work on the way back was flawless with curb work :).

* His pace was a bit slow, almost walking and I ahead a bit of a time getting him to “Hup Up”. This was mainly on the way back though. It is almost like, “I have been here and it is boring”. Something to mention to Don Frisk if this becomes a pattern.

The rest of the afternoon should be pretty boring as I am back into code land.

Days 22 and 23 – Excitement Builds, arival on campus, lunch, graduation, party time and leaving on a jet plane

Harold and I are home safely and I am writing this on my desktop. Boy does it take some getting used to switching keyboards :).

I got up early on Saturday and was dressed for the day by 6:00. I ran down to the nurses office to speak to Mary who assisted me with getting the digital picture frame ready for Robin (who loves it by the way). Mary put in the 1 gig SD card (that I had loaded pictures on prior to me leaving to the nurses office). She then plugged it in and made sure that it was working. Sure enough, it went great! She spent time reviewing the pictures in the frame and then afterwards proceeded to wrap it for me with Guide Dog puppy wrapping paper that I bought from the store.

After breakfast I assisted a classmate with some Victor Stream questions. The day was going slower then a turtle. At 11:00 I went down for lunch and ate quickly. I then proceeded to take Harold out (we were now allowed to take them out by ourselves and not as a group). While at lunch my cell phone rang and it was the Goldstein family letting me know that they were on campus and in the visitors center. We finally met at 11:45 or so. It was so wonderful to meet them. When I approached I handed Robin the leash and she took Harold from there for quite a while. They really missed him and you could tell how much love they had for him.

We talked for quite a while and then went and had a group picture taken. We will get copies of this picture. Robin, Scott and me went outside to relieve Harold. We then hurried back inside and talked for just a bit more. Once we were done Robin took Harold from me (in harness) so that she could present Harold to me on the stage.

Then the graduation. I saw Marlaina just before the start of graduation and she took my DS50 and recorded the entire graduation. We are also getting DVDs of the ceremony and when I get it I will rip the audio from the DVD and post it.

Many funny stories were told, as well as a few sad and touching ones. The time went by very fast.

After graduation we went on a tour with Robin and her family. I got to see portions of the campus I actually hadn’t seen, so that was fun.

We then went out to Outback for dinner. We had Robin’s entire family, Marlaina, Gary, myself and Erika, a friend from our class. I believed at the time that she would have been the only one left on campus so we took her with us. We road in Marlaina and Gary’s van. We were there for over 3 hours and it never seemed like it.

When we departed we all give hand shakes and hugs goodbye. I guess when I got into the van to leave Sam started to cry. That really touched my heart.

I got back on campus and proceeded to make final preparations for home. I took a shower, washed remaining clothes and packed all of the electronic goodies. I purchased the Rising, an audio drama from Earflix to listen to on the plane and copied it to the stream.

I was up at 4:00 or so and took my luggage out at around 5:15. We loaded into the busses and we proceed to the airport. Harold did a bang up job in the airport.

The plan rides were uneventful, save it for the nurse who kept offering powdered doughnuts to Harold.

It was great to see Keri and the kids. Harold has been doing well. He gets along with our cat Mew, at least on leash anyway :). He really likes Brian and Keri very much. David has yet to interact with Harold yet.

Time to finish unpacking, one more suitcase to go!

We will give more updates this week along with some audio clips.

Stay tuned for the blog update on day 1 of Harold’s working week.

Day 21 – Mall Visit, packet review, graduation walk through, Goldstein family confirmation and packing

Friday was going to be a short day as far as routes go. After breakfast we meant in the Visitor’s Center and talked about graduation a bit and then transitioning home with our guides (travel, expectations at home, feeding, relieving, etc). After this we loaded into the busses and went to the mall. Jim was back and he worked with me on moving turns. Harold did awesome today! I picked up a card for the gift I am going to be giving Robin. The front of the card has a picture of a yellow lab (as a puppy) that very much looked like Harold. The inside is blank. More on the card later.

We got back from the mall and it was time for lunch. We ate and then proceeded into the discussion/lecture room to review our packets. The notebooks are quite large and most of the documentation is included on the accompanying CD. The top right corner of the first page of each documents has a hole punch if it is included on the CD. We were going to have the development lecture but our guest speaker didn’t make it.

We then had a ten minute break and then went to the visitors center to go through the graduation. They lined us up on the stage in the order we will be presented in and we walked through the entire process. After this we reviewed the plans for Saturday night and were then told to go and pack.

I waited until after dinner to start packing. I listened to Darrell and Karen do the Desert Skies Show on ACB Radio Interactive while I packed.

After packing I wrote up the message that was going to go into the card. Here is that text:

Dear Goldstein Family,

I would like to sincerely thank you for the precious gift you have given me of raising Harold.

Sheri and Scott:

Thank you for raising such wonderful children who are so loving and giving to others. Thank you for the time, patience and huge commitment you have undertaken as a family to raise Harold for my benefit. You will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you so much!


Your love, compassion and willingness to serve are traits that are simply amazing. I can see through Harold what kind of special young woman you are. I so very much appreciate your willingness to be there for Harold and me. It took a lot of work on your behalf when you could have been doing a lot of other things as a young woman going to high school. Thanks for your courage, strength and willingness to put Harold first. You are truly an ambassador for Guide Dogs for the Blind and have represented what true character means in today’s youth! Thank you so much!


Thank you for the honor of reading the essay you wrote. It gave me insight into your family and especially Robin. I can tell you are a part of a close
family and the respect and honor you have shown toward your sister is wonderful! It is amazing that Harold and Robin have transformed many lives and for that I am sincerely appreciative.


Thank you for the time and patience you had in working with Harold. I can just see him now going to your fourth grade classroom and interacting with the rest of the children. This will be wonderful as I interact with youth at church and in other settings.

Our hope is to stay in close contact as Harold and I transform into an even stronger team. We will send pictures and continue blogging events in Harold’s life as he travels around my home town and in other areas.

Again Goldstein family, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

With lots of love,

Jeff Harold Bishop

PS. The signature above represents the signature that Shari posted on blog comments and I love it!

I emailed it to the nurse Mary who assisted me in wrapping the gift and preparing the card. Thank you Mary, your awesome!

I am writing this on Saturday, the day of graduation. It is an exciting day and I am looking forward too meeting the Goldstein’s. This will be a wonderful opportunity. I will write more later. It is breakfast time.

Day 20 – Taking trips, Getting security concious, Freelance and buying Smart for our Dogs

We are almost done! Today started with a discussion about taking trips with our guide dogs. All of the basics were covered: feeding, watering, relieving, riding in cars, cruses (they should have asked Marlaina to do that one ), planes and much more. After that we all went to the airport to practice going through security with our dogs. Frankly, I am not sure who this was for more, the airport staff or us. For me it was for sure for the airport staff. I had a great discussion with Kim at our table about many things along with other classmates.

After lunch it was time to load into the busses and go to Gresham. I just did a very simple freelance route. After this the gang went to Pet Smart. I staid on the bus. I really didn’t need anything and the outing was strictly optional anyway.

We all said our goodbyes to Sioux, as Jim will be returning on Friday. Again, she worked with Mary to train Harold and she really was a great help to me this week. I gave her a hug and thanked her very much. She did awesome with Harold as well as Mary of course.

One thing I learned about Harold is that he was one of two dogs in class that went through the “accelerated training program”. GDB is doing these trials where they cut the training time in half for the dogs by taking them out 2 times per day, 6 days a week. So, Harold left the Goldstein’s on 10/31/2008 and entered class the first Thursday that I was there. Talk about quick! To make it clear, all of the same training is done as well as testing, it is just done in less time and more often.

This evening I gathered contact information for the entire class and will be emailing it out to the gang. Another classmate, who has simply been a God Send to me in class as far as helping me with some things, wrote cards out for all of the staff here at GDB. I will comment on this later.

So, the last formal day is tomorrow, Friday. Here is the schedule as I know it:

8:15 – Obedience and transitioning to your home area
9:00 – Head to the mall to do last minute shopping
1:30 – Review packets, development discussion and graduation review and practice with mics and other items.

To answer a question that I have received by many, yes, the blog will continue with Harold updates as well as updates on my personal life. Many have also asked if the blog will return to a focus on technology type topics. The answer to this is an emphatic “NO”, unless it is such an item that could dramatically impact my life personally. In that case, I will.

See you all the next day for another review.

Learning Life Lessons through Guide work

Below is an essay that Bryan Goldstein wrote about his sister Robin. Remember that Robin raised Harold even though the entire family played a vital role in making Harold who he is today. This was very touching and I just received permission to post it here for all to read. Bryan, you are an incredible young man! Robin, with character like yours you will go far in life.

My little sister taught me everything I needed to know and she was only in eighth grade at the time. I may be an older brother by 17 months, but I must admit my younger sister has influenced my life the most. In my growing years, I was always the kid who messed around and enjoyed life rather than taking any piece of it seriously. My sister was the one who enjoyed life by getting involved in it. She was only in middle school when she decided to devote her time to raising guide dogs for the blind. She began her commitment by puppy sitting for others who were raising guide dogs and our family finally decided that she was so determined in her decision that we could not stand in the way.

Robyn brought home her first 6 week old puppy and began the process of waking early for feedings and potty training as well as training in proper behavior every minute of the day that summer. When school began, she determined to take him with her every day for socialization. Guide dogs have to be comfortable with being on duty for a blind person in spite of the confusion of the workplace. Therefore going to high school was as good a place as any for him to learn proper behavior. This decision of hers astonished me more than anything else because it’s not that easy to be completely different than everyone else in a school of 4,000 students. She reported getting weird looks and funny glances, but she said that it was simply part of the sacrifice that she was willing to make for another person’s life.

I think that it is fair to say that she is one of the most self-confident kids at our school these days. In a place where the majority is looking to fit in and at the same time looking for an identity, my sister has already figured it all out. Her identity is in making her own decisions and helping others. It was during this time that I began to realize that my sister and I were not that different at all. I recognized my own talents for helping others and I began to volunteer at the local retirement center playing the piano for senior citizens every Wednesday. I thought that giving to others would mean sacrifice, but I started to realize that it mostly means sharing your talents so that others find joy in their lives.

I am proud of my sister. She is now raising her third guide dog. I am also proud of myself. I have stopped looking to others for acceptance and I have begun reaching out to others who stand alone in the crowd. I believe that this is the greatest characteristic that I can bring to a college campus in order to make a difference. I am determined to bring joy to others through my love of music and performance, but I am also just as determined to help others find their gifts in order to find their own purpose. The minute that a person finds their unique gift to give back to the world, their life takes on a new dimension and meaning. My sister may be younger but she taught me the most important lesson of my life.

Day 19, AGS discussion, Clicking through to Caring for your Dog and Mewing as we moved toward Crossing the diamond rough, Exit Interviews and Alumni discussions

We are nearing the end. I got a very nice note from my boss today and I sincerely appreciated that. She is awesome. I actually have two supervisors and Zach is out all week at an Oracle conference.

In the morning we got up at the regular time and took the dogs out. I checked some email and other such things and then went down to breakfast. I ate very fast to get two loads of laundry into the washing machines before the start of our day. It was either do it now or don’t do it at all today and it had to be done. I certainly love procrastination :). I finished up by 8:00 and waited for our lecture on the Admissions and Graduate Services offerings. After this we took our dogs out and loaded onto the busses to head too the lounge.

Today it was phase three of the Clicker training. We would take what we learned and teach Harold to find light polls (actually the button to push to cross the street). He picked it up very fast. Harold is an awesome boy! More proof of this is coming soon.

We finished up early and we headed back to campus to have a lecture on the care of your guide dog. This was mainly a review of material already covered.

At lunch it was cafeteria day. We had to go into the kitchen with our dogs, load up trays and move back to our tables. They made pizza for lunch so at least it wasn’t something more difficult to balance :). We had two eye doctors at our table (one was a student) and he was from Mesa Arizona.

After eating lunch I hurriedly moved back to the laundry room and moved my laundry into the dryer. I went into the Visitor’s Center and did cat distraction work with Harold and the cat. Harold completely ignored the cat. Keri will be happy :). Harold was more interested in the humans across the way then he was with Chester the big fluffy cat laying on the floor about 4 feet from Harold.

We then moved into town on the busses and worked on large street crossings. Harold’s work in this area was simply amazing. We first showed Harold the crossing at each curb giving him a food reward. This was done using sighted guide and not holding onto the harness. To Harold it was a game. Lots of praise and “Let’s go’s” were the words used to motivate him across each part of the intersection. The intersection was a diamond shape and was 5 lanes wide. We walked across and back rewarding at each stop. Sioux then told me to work with Harold across the intersection by my self. He did it perfectly and with gusto!

When we got back we had exit interviews and then dinner. Before the exit interviews I retrieved my laundry and through it on the bed. I must say, no socks lost since I have been here :).

After dinner we met with Aaron to talk about the Alumni association and to also discuss things about the Victor Reader Stream.

On Thursday we are going to the airport to work through security after a discussion about going home with our dogs. In the afternoon it is freelance work in Gresham. As for me and Harold, Sioux and I will focus on moving turns. We will be off that evening where I will work on gathering contact information from everyone and emailing it all around. I also plan on starting to pack for the trip home. I promised Keri I will do laundry on Saturday night so nothing comes home dirty accept of course what I am wearing :).

See everyone on the next post.

Day 18 – Route, Clicking, going to the doc and the night life

Today was again going to be a very long one. We went into Portland to work on routes in the morning. Nothing special here. We did stop at a Goodwill and walked around inside. Harold did well here. He is still having a bit of trouble with moving right turns but it is something we are working on.

In the afternoon we split into two groups. I was in the first group so right after lunch we went to the vet for Harold’s last checkup. We also reviewed his medical profile. He is quite the healthy boy. His weight was 68.6 pounds (unchanged from the last time he got weighed). Harold and I then went outside and did overhead work. He had a bit of difficulty with this but admittedly it is the hardest work for guide dogs to master and frankly the routes I take generally are overhead free (most of the time). I am not trying to make excuses but this will come in time and experience.

Then we did a 30 minute clicker session with Sioux and Molly. We taught Harold to find empty chairs. It seems quite the tool to use indeed. He got it down very quickly. The trick in all of this is to make it like a game. We will go out on Wednesday and do more clicker work. This will happen on Wednesday morning.

After this we went back to the lecture room and heard a lecture from the vet. I honestly had a hard time keeping awake. I did record the vet visit earlier in the day, the clicker training and the vet lecture so I have it to review for later. I don’t think I fell asleep completely but my head kept bobbing. I think I need a week just to recover from the hectic schedule. I am glad work is coming, it will be relaxing compared to the very busy schedule here (not that I am complaining).

After dinner we loaded into the busses and went on another night route. Harold did absolutely perfect on it. I took Mobile Geo with me for this one sense we had to do these alone. I really didn’t need it but it was nice to hear the intersection crossings as I approached them. We got home close to 9:00 or so, and man was I ready to crash.

Super Bowl Party and Day 17 – Route, Clicking and Targeting

Sunday morning was pretty lazy. I kind of hung around in my room and then took a nap at 12:30 or so until we had to take Harold out again for relieving at 2:00PM. I was out like a light and had to be woken up to take him out. Man was that tough going out there just after waking up.

We all ventured over to the Visitor’s Center for the Super Bowl party. It started at 3:00PM. They had: chips, chicken wings, pizza on french bread and much more. They made these very rich cupcakes that had dark chocolate frosting. I had one but wow was it rich! I went back at half time to my room to attempt to get my laptop back on the wireless network. I actually didn’t get it back on the network until Monday after lunch.

Earlier in the day Keri told me that the microwave oven gave up the ghost. So, I kept getting calls from her throughout the day as she shopped around for a new one.

I was about ready to call Darrell and Karen when I received a phone call from Harold’s puppy raising family. What a huge surprise that was. It was wonderful to talk to Robin and her mom and dad all about Harold. We talked for over an hour or at least it seemed like it. In fact, I was late for taking Harold out for the last time Sunday evening. The weekend instructor knocked on the door and I told her I was chatting with them and she said no problem. I loved talking with them. They are trying very hard to make it for graduation this Saturday. They will call me on Friday to let me know if they made it or not. Marlaina and Gary will for sure be coming so I am very excited about that.

Monday started at the usual time and man did I not want to get out of bed this morning. We went down for breakfast and then lined up to take the dogs out at 8:15AM in preparation for heading into Portland again. While waiting to go out on a route I called Keri and we worked out the final details on the gift we are getting for Robin when they arrive or one that I will mail them. Keri did an awesome job in getting it all arranged. I just hope and pray that it gets here in time. It better dang it! We paid extra to get it here so I think we will be OK.

I worked with Sioux today. She told me that Harold and I are really looking smooth together and she is quite impressed. Harold only got himself in a bit of trouble with one sniffing incident, but other then that the route was absolutely perfect. Robin and Shari would have been proud of Harold for sure.

We came back to campus and got ready for lunch. After lunch we lined up to again go to the Visitor’s Center to work on the beginnings of Clicker Training. I was called out first. I have a recording of the process and will be asking Sioux if I can post it to the blog. So, keep an eye out for that.

This first session is basically to teach clicker timing and technique with a human and the fictitious dog Wheeler. Basically, as I recall, the steps are this for teaching to find an empty chair:

1. Find the item first.

2. Step away from the item and walk to it placing your hand in a closed fist with food in it on the edge of the chair and wait for the dog to touch your hand with their nose. Once the dog touches then “Click”. The click must be done at the time of the touch.

3. Move back away slowly and then rework (this is called back chaining). Continue to work your way back a few more steps and rework.

4. Eventually the goal is to eliminate food in your fist and eventually the hand association to the point that the dog will place their nose on the chair and then you check and then click and reward.

5. The ultimate goal is to associate a command to the action and not have to utilize the clicker.

From those that I have spoken with this is a very powerful tool and is very affective in real world situations to teach your dog new things. I am excited to teach Harold all kinds of things utilizing these techniques.

On Tuesday we will actually work with Harold on finding an empty chair. On Wednesday we will go into Gresham and work on benches, light crossing buttons, ATM machines and more. I am jazzed about it.

After clicker training we went back into town and ended up at Target. I bought a couple of items and then it was time to come home.

This brings us up too the current.

The rest of day 15 and Super Bowl Day!

The last time I left you we were all preparing to go out on our routes in the afternoon. We all eventually met for pizza or ice cream. We had no problem getting there but getting back was a bit of a challenge. Main and 2ND is a T-intersection and a few of us had a bit of trouble with it. We ended going up a block and reversing our steps but I could have sworn that Jim told me to cross there. Oh well, so much for my memory. Other then that, the trip was fine.

I joined the rest of my classmates at the table for dinner but didn’t eat. I ate enough when we went for pizza. The pizza was so so. We have far better pizza places at home, that is for sure :).

After dinner I groomed Harold. It must have been a lot of fun for him as a puppy or something. He is the only dog who wags his tail throughout the whole experience. That makes for an interesting challenge at times :).

It was time to go hear all about those things that we can buy from GDB. I left when they got into the clothing items. I am going to mainly get equipment items: extra leashes, extra rug, extra tie downs, a collapsible water bowl, a comb, an extra bone for the Harold boy, a Kong (although I may get that at the pet store) and more.

I took Harold out and then started to get ready for bed. I called Keri and found out that Brian wasn’t back from his school event. He didn’t make it home until 11:00 or so. Oh what a fun night. Suffice it to say, I am a bit tired this morning.
Today, Sunday, it is Super Bowl day. We will have Brunch at 10:00 until 12:30 and then a Super Bowl party at 3:00PM at the Visitors Center. They will show the game on a big screen. I will bring my walkman and listen to the commentary of the game on the radio. That really is the best way to hear the game anyway if you want to truly know what is going on.

Leave a Comment