The UC Berkeley Football Team (Cal Bears) recently hosted a meet-up with the friendliest of on-field visitors: guide dog puppies! More than a dozen of GDB’s volunteer puppy raisers and guide dog puppies-in-training met with coaches and student-athletes following a practice session at Memorial Stadium to provide even the toughest of players with some irresistible inspiration, while also raising awareness for recruiting more GDB volunteers.
The outing, which is the first community initiative between Cal Athletics and GDB, was not only an uplifting way to end football practice, it was also another way to socialize our puppies in diverse settings. Exposure to new and unique people and environments helps the pups learn how to navigate places and situations that they may face in the future as guide dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired.
Players huddled up with the pups and enjoyed oodles of puppy love and attention. Pups got plenty of belly rubs and snuggles. Head Coach Justin Wilcox said having the pups come to visit was a wonderful way to let the players unwind after a tough workout, and to energize them regarding community involvement. Coach Wilcox had an uncle who was blind and who had two guide dogs, so he is aware of the life-changing difference a guide dog can make in a person’s life. GDB was introduced to Coach Wilcox by longtime Cal boosters and GDB donors, Todd and Gayle Travers, and we are so grateful for the connection.
The interaction with the players and puppies was a sight to behold, and many media outlets were there to capture the joy. Check out the news feature that aired on KTVU-Fox 2 about the outing.
We look forward to an ongoing relationship with Cal Athletics - stay tuned for more exciting collaboration news to come!
To learn more about raising a guide dog puppy, please visit our Volunteer page.