“Spontaneity. Freedom. Self-reliance. Possibilities.” These are a few key words Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) graduate Bruce Gilmour uses to expresses the guide dog lifestyle. Bruce received his first guide dog in 1985 and through the years has had five guide dogs that have been partners in opening doors to what he describes as “opportunity, contentment, and enrichment.”
His current guide dog Marley is a golden retriever whom Bruce affectionately calls “Marvelous Marley.”
Bruce is a transportation consultant who lives with his wife Wendy and their daughter in Vancouver, British Columbia.
He has high praise for GDB’s Veterinary Financial Assistance program, which he says plays an important role supporting the health and success of guide dogs.
“Knowing the program is there, is very reassuring. The care, the love, the socializing, the grooming, the play, the quality of the food, allowing for down time, and annual veterinarian checks, all go a long way toward keeping my guide dogs as healthy and finely tuned for the demanding work and challenges they face in guide-work.” When a few of his guide dogs had unexpected health events, Bruce says GDB’s medical team supporting the Veterinary Financial Assistance program exercised “the highest degree of professional support, wisdom, and empathy.”
Bruce has also enjoyed serving on GDB’s Alumni Association Board from July 2015 through June 2020. GDB is the only guide dog school in North America with an active and engaged Alumni Association with regional chapters that organize activities and events. The GDB Alumni Association provides graduates with opportunities for mentoring, networking, and advocacy, as well as to actively be involved in GDB’s mission.
Every other year, the Alumni Association holds a reunion. Attendees share their triumphs and challenges living with their guide dogs. “It’s been great connecting with other alumni throughout the U.S. and Canada,” explains Bruce. "There’s this unconditional sense of welcome."
Theresa Stern, VP of Outreach, Admissions and Alumni Services was grateful to Bruce for his six years of service. “Bruce was an inspired member of the Alumni Association Board who brought a unique and positive viewpoint to the team, which led to creativity and innovation.”
Bruce says it was a “honor” to be selected to serve on the Alumni Board in support of GDB’s mission. “It meant so much to give back to GDB and work collaboratively and synergistically with such inspiring, wonderful, beautiful people.”
Bruce is particularly proud that the Alumni Association’s collaboration with GDB staff has resulted in “miles and miles” of progress for clients through the years. “It’s how the school has become so directed around an individualized service model. They really are committed to matching each client with the right guide dog and offering personalized training to fit each client’s individual needs.”
Bruce describes GDB’s community of clients, puppy raisers, campus volunteers, breeder custodians, donors, staff, and board as “one big family that creates powerful partnerships” that help make the world a better place.
Over the years, Bruce has stayed in close contact with several of his guide dogs' puppy raisers, one of whom invited him to speak at a puppy raising club meeting. “Many puppy raisers had never actually interacted with a person who is blind or visually impaired. I wanted them to know how much I appreciated their volunteer work and how my dogs have enriched my life.”
Bruce says he’s also extremely grateful to GDB’s donors who make it possible for him to have had his guide dogs free of charge. “Thank you for being a very important part of bringing health, activity, new horizons, and normalcy into my daily life through the journeys made possible with a guide dog by my side. Your support is part of the embodiment of the partnerships building success at GDB!”
If you know someone who might be interested in exploring the guide dog lifestyle, please email them this link about our program and services.