Guide Dog Leads Way to Give Back

Dog is Good and Leader Dogs for the Blind will raise awareness of service dog contributions through raising a puppy.

When Jon and Gila Kurtz launched Dog is Good, a pet apparel and gifts company, they made a commitment to giving back, donating a portion of profits to charities such as™ and the Victoria Stilwell Foundation.

But when Leader Dogs for the Blind approached them about raising a puppy for the guide dog organization, and in the process raising awareness about the amazing contributions of service dogs, they jumped at the chance.

“We celebrate the human-animal bond in our products and in how we give back, and there is no more powerful bond than that between a guide dog and owner,’’ says Gila Kurtz, who knows a great deal about animal bonds because she is also a dog trainer.

As Gila describes how the project got started, she is cradling a sweet and somewhat pooped BOLO in her arms, a yellow Labrador Retriever mix, and on this day the star of a puppy shower fundraiser for the project, held in Huntington Beach, Calif.

BOLO is named for Be On the LookOut, the name of the Dog is Good logo mascot, which shows a cheery dog with a halo above.
The BOLO Project, a fundraiser to benefit Leader Dogs for the Blind, will last approximately one year – following BOLO the puppy from about seven weeks of age until she is ready to begin the actual guide dog training.

“We will take her with us to trade shows and various events around the country, and also do a lot of promotions and awareness through social media,’’ says Gila Kurtz. “Our goal is to raise $50,000 for Leader Dogs for the Blind, and also get BOLO ready to be a Leader Dog, changing someone’s life,’’ Gila says.

BOLO is clearly already one smart little Lab puppy, because at only 12 weeks of age Gila has already taught her Down, Sit, Stay and Go to Mat.

One challenge of raising the puppy is that the Kurtzes and their company are based in Los Alamitos, Calif., and Leader Dogs for the Blind is over 2,000 miles away, back in the Midwest, based in Rochester Hills, Mich.

Today, technology helps overcome such challenges. “We visited the Leader Dogs campus in September and will use Skype to work with our puppy counselor at Leader Dogs,’’ Gila says. “Leader Dogs is such a wonderful organization. No wonder they have more than 1,000 volunteers.’’

Jon and Gila Kurtz say that raising a guide dog puppy is a perfect fit for the Dog is Good mission: “deliver Dogvergnügen!” Dogvergnügen is a word they made up to describe how great one feels when with their dog. The special bond between a Leader Dog and someone who is visually impaired goes beyond Dogvergnügen – it is perhaps the epitome of the dog-human connection.  

About Dog is Good
Creates and markets gifts and apparel for dog lovers, committed to being socially responsible and philanthropic. For more information, please visit Learn more about the Dog is Good BOLO project and how you can help here.

About Leader Dogs for the Blind
Since 1939, Leader Dogs for the Blind has been providing guide dogs to people who are blind and visually impaired to enhance their mobility, independence and quality of life.  They provide all services free of charge to clients thanks to funds provided by individuals, foundations, Lions Clubs, and corporate donations around the world. For more information, please visit the Leader Dogs for the Blind website.

Partners with and funds leading nonprofit organizations around the world including many animal welfare organizations. Dog is Good donates a portion of proceeds from the “I Like Big Mutts’’ line of apparel and gifts to to distribute to animal rescue organizations.

About the Victoria Stilwell Foundation
Provides financial support and canine behavior expertise to assistance dog organizations and small animal rescue shelters while promoting the concept of reward-based, positive reinforcement dog training philosophies in organizations and households throughout the United States. To learn more, visit the Victoria Stillwell Foundation website.

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