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It Takes A Village

Wednesday March 13, 2024

A man and his guide dog pose with a woman and her daughter.

Eric Holm with his guide dog Daxton, and Daxton's puppy raiser, Joelle Cook and her daughter, Lacey.

Guide Dogs for the Blind's puppy raising volunteers are an integral part of our life-changing work. Our Puppy Clubs throughout nine western U.S. states are a big support system for our raisers. At a recent graduation, guide dog client Eric Holm expressed his appreciation and thanks to GDB’s trainers, staff, and volunteer puppy raisers for all they do to nurture and train amazing guide dog teams. “I love this organization, and I love the mission, and everyone involved in this program. It does take a village. There are so many people who give of their money, time, and love. I don’t mean for this to sound like a cliché, but it is just pure love. It’s wonderful.”

Eric has been a guide dog handler since 2006 and says his recent in-home training experience with successor guide dog Daxton was excellent. He remembers when his instructor first introduced him to Daxton. “He immediately came up to me, nuzzled me, and said, ‘You’ll do.’’’ recalls Eric chuckling. “He’s just remarkable. From the first time I picked up the harness handle and we went on our first route and we flew. It was perfect.” says Eric.

Daxton is Eric’s third guide dog, and he praised GDB for consistently matching clients with the right dog to suit their lifestyle. He also applauded GDB’s ongoing care and support for its guide dog clients. When his previous guide dog, Amarillo developed cancer, GDB ensured Amarillo received the care he needed. “Now he’s cancer free, so thank you to Guide Dogs for the Blind for covering all of the medical bills,” says Eric, noting that Amarillo continues to be well-loved as his retired guide and immediately bonded with Daxton. “The two get along beautifully.”

Eric continued to express his appreciation to everyone involved in GDB’s life-changing work, especially Daxton’s puppy raiser, Joelle Cook, and the entire Cook family for raising a remarkable dog. “He’s just perfect,” says Eric.

Joelle began raising GDB puppies as a young girl. She later pursued a degree in animal science and embarked on a career in animal welfare “because of the love that grew out of this organization.” Today, she co-leads the Pleasanton Puppy Club. With two daughters and a menagerie of animals, Joelle agreed to care for Daxton on a short-term basis until the club could find another puppy raiser. But soon after settling into her home, Daxton took her busy household in stride. “He was always very comfortable and confident, so, I thought, ‘he can stay because he’s making this really easy,’” says Joelle.

She also credits the Pleasanton Puppy Raising Club for its amazing support. “I would like to thank all the puppy raisers and puppy sitters in our club who gave their time and energy to me and to my family and to Daxton so that we could raise this puppy full time. I would not have been able to raise this puppy without you, so thank you,” said Joelle. “Winston Churchill said ‘You make a living by what you get, but you make a life out of what you give.’”

Eric, meanwhile, is looking forward to all the adventures and paths he has yet to blaze with Daxton.

Eric Holm with his guide dog Daxton and a group of friends and puppy raisers.

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Categories: GDB Alumni, GDB Community, Puppy Raising