Appologies for the late guest post this month. With so much going on, it was my fault entirely, and not the fault of this month’s author. This one was worth waiting for though 🙂
Hello everyone and thanks to Jenny and OJ for giving me the opportunity to make a guest post. First of all, for those who don’t know me, on the internet I tend to go by the name L^2 (that’s L-Squared written in mathematical-speak), and for the last 7 years or so I have been blogging over at
Dog’s Eye View.
Mostly I blog about life with my guide dogs, but occasionally I mix it up a bit with some of my other interests including crochet and lots of photography.
In March of 2010 my first guide dog, a female pale yellow Labrador Retriever, named Willow retired after almost 8 years of hard work with me. Then, I went back to using a white cane for 7 months, until in October 2010 when I was matched with my second guide dog, a male dark Chocolate Lab, named Jack. He and I are approaching our one year anniversary as a guide dog team and I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier with him.
When Jenny contacted me about making a guest post, she mentioned the auction I recently held. So, I’ve decided to write a bit about fundraising. I’m not sure if other countries do this, but for at least the last 3 years, in the United States, September is designated as National Guide Dog month. This is supposed to be an event to promote awareness of guide dogs. However, mostly it is a marketing campaign put on by a well-known pet supply chain store and a dog food company, who get a couple of celebrities to help advertise for them. Together they make a video press release, commercials, and do a few television appearances to promote the sale of a certain type of dog food, from which some of those sales profits are donated to numerous guide dog organizations.
I think in some countries, guide dog organizations receive at least a little bit of support from the government. However, in the United States programs that train guide dogs do not receive any form of government funding. Also, most of the programs do not charge their clients any sort of fee to receive a guide dog – and even the few that do charge a fee, only ask for a tiny fraction of the total cost of raising and training the dog. So, all 15+ guide dog programs currently operating in the U.S. are only able to provide their services to individuals who are blind thanks to the incredible generosity of private donors. Thus, most, if not all, of these programs are constantly fundraising.
As some of you reading this probably know, about 6 months ago I embarked on a fundraising venture to sponsor a guide dog puppy. Many programs have started to offer sponsorship options – for a certain specific donation amount you can sponsor a guide dog leash, harness, newborn puppy, newborn litter, puppy in training, fully trained guide dog, student handler, or guide dog team. At my current guide dog’s program, a puppy sponsorship is a $5,000 donation which helps pay for anything the puppy needs while being raised to become a guide dog: including food, veterinary care, equipment, training, evaluation, etc..
I was motivated to take on this project partly because my guide dog Jack was a sponsored puppy himself, and this is treated as quite a neat honor at his school. I also decided to do it, because at one time I had hoped to be able to raise an assistance dog puppy as a way to “give back” for the gift of my first guide dog , Willow. I was never able to do that though, so I supported her school by raising funds for them in several ways with my photography. However, in my mind if I can’t raise a puppy myself, a puppy sponsorship is the next best option.
So far, to raise the needed funds, I have held a dog collar raffle and an online auction. Additionally I am continuing to offer special items for sale in my online photography shop (including holiday cards, items featuring an oil painting of Guide Dog Jack, and chocolate Lab 2012 wall calendars). I am donating proceeds from general sales at my shop during certain months to the cause as well, and of course, I have also been collecting a few personal donations from friends and family. With these efforts I am currently a little over 35% of the way to my goal. I haven’t quite been able to work out all the details for the fundraising event I had hoped to hold this month, but at some point in the future I am planning to hold an International Dog Walk, another online auction, and a few more fun contests.
When I started this project, I wasn’t sure I should even mention it on my blog, because a great majority of my blog’s readers are associated with Assistance Dog organizations other than my own dog’s program. So, I felt awkward asking for donations from them. However, I am both happy and grateful for my many blog friends who are able to look past the fact that this pup will wear a specific “In Training” jacket, and open their hearts to the more important fact that the money will provide for a future guide dog puppy who has the potential to help someone the way Willow helped me, the way Jack continues to help me, and the way that so many other awesome guide dogs help their partners every day. I truly appreciate this support, and I think it shows just how wonderful the guide dog community is – that breeders, raisers, and handlers from all over the world can come together to help a puppy on his or her quest to become a guide dog for the blind. And that’s why my puppy sponsorship is not really mine; the official sponsorship name that will appear on the puppy’s jacket will be
“Friends of Guide Dog Jack”, because so many generous friends and family are playing a part in helping to make this sponsorship possible.
Well, I didn’t mean to ramble on for so long about my own fundraising project, but my point is that I think everyone who is able to do so, should try to find at least a small way to help support a guide dog program. These great organizations couldn’t do what they do for those of us who want guide dogs, without the generosity of people who really care about such a worthwhile cause.