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Growing Up GDB

Tuesday March 12, 2024

Three women and a yellow Lab guide dog.

Megan Minkiewicz, her sister Rochelle Bochner, and their mother Diane Shapiro with her guide dog, Henrietta.

Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) has been a big part of Megan Minkiewicz’s life. She grew up in California with GDB career-changed dogs and retired guides as pets. Her older sisters were puppy-raising volunteers in the 1970s, and her mother became a guide dog client at age 80. She has introduced generations of nieces and nephews to the organization as well.

Megan and her husband Alex took the plunge when they adopted Noah, a career-change dog (pictured below with them on their wedding day). “That’s when I told Alex that we should raise one puppy to give back to GDB for giving us Noah.” After that, raising a guide dog puppy just fit in with our lifestyle so we just kept doing it.”

Today, she and Alex live in Oregon and are raising guide dog puppy #18, Lancer, a yellow Lab (pictured with Megan below). Her experience with the Bend, Oregon Puppy Raising Club led to close friendships, particularly with club leader Jennifer Brewer. “She’s one of my closest friends.” Megan says the people and club activities introduced her to the Bend community. “I primarily work from home, so volunteering is an important social outlet for me.”

Ten of the pups Megan and Alex raised have become guide dogs and Megan has enjoyed meeting and staying connected with their handlers. Over the years, she has brought guide dog puppies to various work functions at Pure Storage, where she works. The company sponsored Flash, one of the puppies she raised. “My entire team from work was thrilled to accompany me when I picked up Flash.” Handing her Flash was GDB Board Member Joan Boyd. The two became friends after meeting at a GDB event 20 years ago. “She’s part of our GDB family,” says Megan. “My connections to people across the organization just keeps growing.”

Megan and Alex have also been donors for 20+ years and have named GDB in their estate plans. “The primary reason we support the organization is because GDB cares for the health and wellbeing of the dogs we raised for their entire lives,” notes Megan. And she says GDB’s unrivaled care and support for its clients is another key reason. “We choose to give to organizations that we believe in and that we know have strong reputations in their communities. We see the impact and the results of GDB’s work every day. I see it with my mom – their willingness to support clients and fast response is world-class.”

Megan also enjoys educating the public about GDB’s puppy-raising program and its impact on people who are blind or visually impaired. And she is always quick to purchase a table and invite guests to GDB’s fundraising events. “I’m probably most proud of all the people we have brought into the GDB fold because of our involvement with the organization. Friends who came to the holiday event want to become puppy raisers! I’ve come to realize that it’s not just about the dogs, it’s about the people. The people are what make GDB great.”

Learn more about GDB's puppy-raising program.
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Categories: Donor Profile, GDB Community, Puppy Raising