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Guide Dog Receives the Purple Paw

By David13676 @dogspired

A trip to Bruce Breslauer’s Great Falls office involves shaking hands with Breslauer, and, sometimes, patting his 9-year-old black Labrador retriever Glendale on the head. But Glendale, other than wagging her tail, shows little visible excitement at a new visitor. She likes new people, Breslauer explained, but she was also “born old.”bilde

“You wonder whether she ever had a puppyhood,” says Breslauer, who received Glendale as his guide dog in March 2007 when she was 22 months old.

Together, Breslauer and Glendale are a team, each one relying on the other’s strengths.

That’s why, when the Animal Foundation of Great Falls decided to honor a guide dog with its Purple Paw award this year, they turned to Glendale.

“Glendale came to our attention and perfectly exemplified the bond between human and animal,” said Cindy James, co-chairwoman of the Fur Ball, the annual event and fundraiser where the Purple Paw was awarded Saturday evening.

The Purple Paw has been given to animals who have performed heroic deeds or exhibited a strong bond with humans, James said.

Breslauer said he is excited Glendale received the honor, but he notes that a guide dog does not work alone.

“The person-dog team makes the guide dog work,” he said.

The dog is a good tool for people who are blind but not a necessity. Breslauer said canes, when used properly, can be just as effective. A dog provides directional cues but is dependent on her handler to be oriented properly, Breslauer said.

While in Breslauer’s office at Montana Vocational Rehabilitation Blind and Low Vision Services, where Breslauer is the regional manager of a 17-county area, Glendale spends time lying on her bed or greeting co-workers and visitors.

While on walks, for example to a bus stop, Glendale is all business. Once, she stopped to let a car pull out of a parking lot. Breslauer did not hear the car and admitted he didn’t really notice they had stopped, either.

That shows the intuitive relationship that has built between them, he said.

This route, from work to the bus stop, is habit for Glendale. But Breslauer also travels to rural towns in his region; those days are more of a challenge for Glendale. A small town with fewer sidewalks and fast-moving traffic, for example, requires her to be on high alert.

“Working a strange area is hard for a guide, and following somebody when I teach them cane travel, Glendale has to concentrate on where that person is going but also concentrate on keeping me safe,” Breslauer said.

The end of the day, when they get to the home Breslauer shares with his wife, Joy, and her guide dog named Nanette, is time for Glendale to rest and relax. But Breslauer said he has a hard time getting Glendale to relax.

“She’s not really a player so I have to work hard to get that relaxation into her. So we’re both serious,” he said.

Glendale is coming to the end of her tenure with Breslauer. She is developing cataracts, so she will retire soon, he said. Upon retirement, she will go back to the place she was raised in Colorado, and Breslauer will be matched with a new guide dog.

“It’s terribly hard. I’ve let go of five dogs, and it never gets easier,” he said.

That may make Glendale’s Purple Paw just a little sweeter.

“Glendale deserves it,” Breslauer said. “It’s a thrill for myself and my wife.”

James said Glendale exemplifies what a guide dog should be, and the bond she and Breslauer enjoy is what the Purple Paw award is all about.

“Animals provide a real, just as important part of people’s lives, and I think that resonates,” James said.

Glendale acts as Breslauer’s guide, but she is also a companion.

She has provided some of the best work of all the dogs Breslauer has had. She’s been ready to work from the beginning.

“That first day, she just came right up and sat down in front of me as if to say, ‘OK, I’m here to work,’” Breslauer recalls.

Still, after seven years, she is by his side to work.

~Via Great Falls Tribune

Tags: dog human bond, guide dog, Purple Paw

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