Guide Dog Puppy Sponsorship Info.

Dark brown chocolate Lab guide dog Jack dressed in his black and white leather guide harness and black leather leash, standing in front of a pretty limestone brick wall. His ears are perked up and his tail is wagging. I know, with all that's going on in the world right now, it seems like everybody is trying to raise money for something, but I’m throwing my hat into the ring anyway. Why? Because I want to help support my Guide Dog Jack's school, Guide Dogs of America (GDA). Unfortunately, since they are located in Southern California and I'm in the midwest, I live too far away to do any direct volunteer work with them. Plus, I live on a very limited income. Thus, I can't afford to make many out-of-pocket donations to support the organization. However, I am willing to try to support them with fundraising efforts.
I don’t want to just fund-raise randomly though. I have chosen a more specific project for GDA, in the form of a sponsorship. According to the sponsorship list on their website, the total cost of each team that graduates from GDA is now approximately $42,000. That's A LOT of money, especially when you consider that they give each guide dog to their blind or visually impaired partner for FREE (and they receive absolutely NO federal, state, or local government funding to help them do this)! While I highly doubt that I alone could raise enough for a team sponsorship ($42,000), or even the full dog sponsorship ($21,000), I'd love to at least raise enough money to sponsor a puppy = $5,000.

Why do I want to sponsor a puppy?
Well, partly it's because Jack was a sponsored pup (by the Culver City Rotary Club). Also, 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, Leader Dog Willow. That project never happened, because I just could never get all the logistics worked out. So, I supported her school, Leader Dogs for the Blind, in other ways (through the 2008 Day of Blogs, donating 2 photos to a silent auction benefiting LDB, and of course submitting Willow's photo that was selected to appear on the school’s 2007-08 Holiday card which was sold to raise money for the program). However, in my mind if I can’t raise a puppy myself, a puppy sponsorship is the next best option, since this money will go to provide everything a puppy in training needs while living with his or her puppy raiser.

What exactly does the money pay for?
The specific associated costs can vary for each puppy. Generally though, donations to my puppy sponsorship project will help cover care costs for the pup from whelping to 18 - 20 months of age when the puppy goes back to GDA for formal harness training. This includes the cost of breeding and delivery, medical care (vaccinations, spay/neuter and veterinarian visits) Heartworm preventative, locator microchip, hip and elbow x-rays, dog food, small puppy bib, larger puppy jacket(s), obedience classes, raiser's puppy kit (which includes all necessary supplies for new puppies – dish, collar, leash, ID tags, puppy raising manual etc.), plus periodic evaluations by the staff of GDA's puppy and training departments.

How am I going to do it?
Well, I hope my friends and family will be generous enough to donate to my project, and also to spread the word to their friends and family who might like to contribute too.
I realize that many people we know are associated with Assistance Dog organizations other than my dog's school, so asking them for donations is not going to be the best method for raising money for this project. However, I guess there's a part of me that hopes at least some of our friends might be able to look past the fact that the pup will wear a specific puppy jacket, and open their hearts to the more important fact that the money will provide equipment and care for a future guide dog puppy who has the potential to help someone the way Willow helped me and the way Jack continues to help me.

How much should we donate?
However much you want to donate would be great! If, in addition to myself, 99 other people each donated $50 we could easily meet the sponsorship amount. However, obviously not everyone can afford to contribute that much, but every little bit will help me reach my goal of $5,000. GDA is a non-profit (501 c 3) organization, so all donations are tax deductible. If you’d like to have a little fun with your donation amount, here are some suggestions for figuring up a total:
  • Donate $0.10 for every ounce of chocolate candy you consume in a year.
  • Donate $0.25 for every puppy kiss you receive in a month.
  • Donate $1.00 for every puppy in training to be an assistance dog you meet/know.
  • Donate $2.00 for every assistance dog (guide, service, hearing, therapy, etc.) you meet/know.
  • Donate $5.00 for every four-footed friend you share you home with.
  • (more suggestions will be added as I receive/think of them. )
Where/how can we donate?
If you, your group, or your business would like to make a donation for my puppy sponsorship project there are various ways to do so:

In-Person Donations:
  • If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area and would like to hand-deliver a donation for our project to GDA, you can stop by their administration building Monday - Friday 9am - 5 pm (I think).  Guide Dogs of America is located at 13445 Glenoaks Blvd. Sylmar, CA 91342) + IMPORTANT: be sure to let them know that your donation is for my project, which is registered under my real name for “Friends of Guide Dog Jack” (If you need to know my real name in order to make a donation, drop me an email or comment with your email address). 
Mail Donations:
  • You can send GDA a personal check (Guide Dogs of America 13445 Glenoaks Blvd. Sylmar, CA 91342) + IMPORTANT: be sure to include a note with your check designating your donation for my project, which is registered under my real name for “Friends of Guide Dog Jack". 
Phone Donations:
  • You can call GDA, (818) 362-5834, with your credit card info + IMPORTANT: be sure to tell them that you want your donation to be put toward my sponsorship project (again it’s registered under my real name for “Friends of Guide Dog Jack”).
Online Donations:
  • DO NOT use the donation form on the GDA website, because apparently there is no way to designate your online donation for my project – if you do use this, they’ll still get the money, but it won’t count toward my goal.
  • Instead, I have set up a fundraising page for this puppy sponsorship project on FirstGiving to collect online donations. It is located here: Guide Dog Puppy Sponsorship. Unfortunately, FG does deduct a 7.5% fee from every donation we receive in order to process the donation before sending it on to GDA. However that processing fee can be covered by contributors, so if you are able to, please check the box to cover the the fee for processing your donation too. Thanks! FirstGiving accepts Visa, Master Card, American Express, or Discover credit cards for donations worldwide. They also accept U.S. debit cards, but not international debit cards. (All donations made through our FirstGiving fundraising page are billed in U.S. dollars.)
International Donations:
  • Yes, GDA can take international checks. The school's bank will convert the currency into American dollars (and of course, charge them a small fee to do it), but they say this is not a problem. (Also, any donation made with a credit card is billed in U.S. dollars.)
Give Donations to Me:
If, for whatever reason, you would prefer to send/hand-deliver your donation for GDA to me instead of any of the above options:
  • Email me at yellowdogphotog[at]gmail[dot]com, if you need my mailing address. I have to mail items to GDA from time to time anyway, so I will include any donations I’ve collected for the project in with those mailings.
Other Ways to Contribute:
If you want to have something to show for the money you give, you can make a purchase that will support my project: During the months of April, July, August, October and November of 2011 100% of profits from direct sales through my Cafepress Photography shop will go to the puppy sponsorship project. NOTE: I only earn somewhere between 5-30% of the total purchase price of each item I sell in my shop, but I'm willing to donate those meager profits to help sponsor a puppy, if people are willing to make purchases in support of my project.  (More dates will be added if needed.)

Special Items for Sale:
  • Katrin's Guide Dog Jack painting items: Artist Katrin has generously given me permission to take a high-quality photo of the awesome painting she made of Guide Dog Jack and use it for fundraising purposes. The painting photo has been added to certain products in my cafepress shop and ALL profits from ALL sales (direct and marketplace) of these special items (at any time from now until we reach our fundraising goal) will be donated to the puppy sponsorship project. HERE is a direct link to the items featuring Katrin's Guide Dog Jack painting in my Cafepress Shop. Thanks Katrin!
  • Holiday Cards (August 2011 - ?) - 100% of the profits (approx. $2 ea.) from the sale the holiday card sets sold in my Cafepress Photography Shop, will be contributed to the puppy sponsorship fund. 
  • Chocolate Labrador Retriever 2012 Wall Calendar sales: (October 2011 - 2012) - 100% of the profits (approx. $5) from the sale of each Chocolate Labrador Retriever Wall Calendar sold in my Cafepress Photography Shop, will be contributed to the puppy sponsorship fund. The calendar features 12 high-quality full-color photographs of Chocolate Lab Guide Dog Jack taken by me in 2010-2011. In the various photos he is having fun, enjoying his non-working time, and generally being his silly, sweet self.      
NOTE for our international friends: Cafepress does automatically convert currencies, so if you’d like to contribute by making a purchase, you can easily do so no matter where you are in the world.

Fundraiser Events:
We will be holding various fun events to help raise money for the sponsorship, so check this space for more info on each one.

Denise's Collar Raffle: (May - August 2011) 
The Collar Raffle has ended. Congratulations to all our collar raffle winners and thanks to everyone who participated!
Online Auction #1: (August 08 - 14, 2011)
The first auction has ended.  Congrats to all the winners and thanks to all those who participated and helped spread the word about this event! 

Paws for a Cause 2011 World-Wide Dog Walk: (October 22 - November 12, 2011)
This event has ended.  Thanks to everyone who participated. 

Guess How Many Chocolates Game: (November 15 - December 10, 2011)
The game has ended. Congratulations to our winner and thanks again to everyone who participated in this fun game! 

Online Auction #2: (February 24, 2012 through March 04, 2012)
The auction is open. Please see the Guide Dog Puppy Sponsorship Fundraiser Auction website for more information.  
Paws for a Cause 2012 World-Wide Dog Walk: (Spring 2012)More info coming soon!
Gift Card Drawing: (2012)
More info coming soon!

Puppy Photo Contest: (2012)
More info coming soon!

Yard/Bake Sale: (2012)
More info coming soon.

Other ways you can contribute will be added/announced as I come up with them.

What will I get out of it?
Well, besides the pleasure of helping another puppy in its quest to become a guide dog, the puppy sponsor can be involved in various decisions relating to the puppy they sponsor:
  • Puppy sponsors can specify which color, gender and breed of pup they want to sponsor: We have already specified Labrador Retriever since this is the most common breed GDA uses.
  • They can choose the name for the puppy if they wish. 
  • And sometimes they can even suggest the raiser they’d like their pup to have. 
(or they can leave it all up to the GDA Puppy Department).
Puppy Sponsors are also recognized by GDA in various ways.
  • The puppy sponsor's name is embroidered onto the puppy’s yellow jacket: For this project the name on the jacket will be “Friends of Guide Dog Jack” – I didn’t want it to be my name, since more than likely  the great majority of the donations will not be from my own pocket. 
  • Puppy sponsors receive quarterly reports (including pictures) on their puppy
  • And if/when the puppy graduates as a guide dog, the sponsors are invited to and recognized during the ceremony. 
  • Also, puppy sponsors are offered the option of second rights to apply for adoption of the pup if it is career changed (raisers get first rights to a CC'd pup): We have already opted to waive these second rights.
What if I don’t raise enough for the puppy sponsorship?
If this project seems to be going nowhere during the next six months or so, I may be able readjust the goal for a smaller sponsorship (newborn litter: $2,500, newborn puppy: $1,000 etc.). Ultimately though, however much money I raise will still go to GDA to support a future guide dog.

How much have I raised so far?
I have added a ticker gadget below to track my fundraising progress. I’ll try to keep it as accurate as I can - GDA can provide me with an update on my collection total whenever I ask for one, but I don’t want to pester them too often. ;-)

Donation total ticker

Thank you so much to any donors for your contributions to my guide dog puppy sponsorship project!  Guide Dogs of America, Guide Dog Jack, and I very much appreciate your support!
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