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Anita and Loki

Meet Graduate Anita

Anita sits in a chair in front of a bright pink azalea bush with yellow Lab Loki and both have very happy facesGraduate Team:   Anita and Loki
About the Team:   Loki is a male, yellow Lab and Anita’s 5th Guiding Eyes dog
Location:   Houston, Texas
Training:   March 2024 Home Training

Anita worked for over 20 years at Texas Medical Center, first as a receptionist/secretary, then a Customer Relations Specialist, and then as an Administrative Assistant. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in music and voice and was a cantorial soloist for 20 years at Temple Beth Torah in Humble, Texas. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she sings there every year at the Holocaust Remembrance Service. Anita still has her amazing soprano voice at almost 71 years old and has been a performing member of the Houston Tuesday Musical Club for about 40 years. Songs have been written for all four of her Guiding Eyes dogs and in 2004 she recorded a CD, “Friends Forever” to raise funds for the Specialized Training program. In 2021 another CD, “Seeing Through My Heart,” was recorded to raise money for the Puppy Raising Program and included the singing of Guiding Eyes graduate Becky and the harmonies of graduate Barbara. Living with mobility issues due to Cerebral Palsy, Anita goes on walks with Loki and works with a trainer each week. Anita lives by her mother’s philosophy in life: “Don’t give up, don’t lose hope, and be positive.”

How would you describe your guide dog? “Loki is calm, yet lively, and loves to play and work. He is adorable and affectionate.  When you look at him, he wags his tail. He loves to wag. He always has his attention on me and what I may need.  In harness, he is serious and knows that he is at work, so at that time he is not thinking about anything else. He pays attention.  He understands his job.  He gets it.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I read a book, “A Guide to Guide Dog Schools”.  At that time, I was a guest artist in New York at the Lighthouse International, and I did not have good cane skills. My Orientation and Mobility instructor noticed that I was veering left when I walked because of my Cerebral Palsy. She said I’d be a lot better off if I had a guide dog and recommended I contact Guiding Eyes. I remembered reading that they had a Specialized Training Program for people with complex mobility issues. I had heard what a wonderful school it was and what it could do for people with multiple issues. They trained a dog to walk on my right side with the right hand holding the harness. It totally changed my life. My guide dogs keep me walking straight.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life?  “Independence and confidence are the biggest advantages, I feel, of having a guide dog.  I also feel safer with a guide dog, especially when crossing the street.  Having a guide dog has allowed me to go out into the community safely.  I am enjoying getting out and walking again. We’re going to be a stellar team.”

Were there any training highlights?  “Guiding Eyes is excellent when matching a dog to an incoming student. I’ve been thrilled with all of my guide dogs and the instructors. During this training, Susan was such an amazing instructor.  I hear Susan’s inspiring words, ‘You can do this, and don’t overthink it. Just do it.’  Her instructions were very descriptive, and her corrections were encouraging.  We went to stores and restaurants, and it was very helpful having her work with us where we live.  I came away from her training with the attitude ‘You got this! Just go do it!’”

For Anita’s performance of “Seeing Through My Heart” at the March 29, 2024 graduation ceremony, click here. (timestamp 26:00 approx.)

Meet Guide Dog Loki

DOB:  4/15/2021
Litter ID: 2L21
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Helen
Stud: Barlow
Littermates: Lucy, Louie, Laredo, Lindsey, Lorraine, Laramie
Region:  Montgomery
Regional Puppy Instructor: Jeanyne Gembarski
Puppy Raiser:  The Fannon Family
Facebook: Montgomery Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Loki is the second GEB puppy that we have raised. We were blessed to have raised his mother Helen during the pandemic. We began our adventure with Loki when he was 8 weeks old. His cuddles and playfulness were a welcomed relief after the long pandemic. Loki grew to be a confident, thoughtful companion and future guide-dog-in-training. Some highlights of our 14 months together included shopping, nature walks, farm visits, sporting events, swimming, and puppy playdates. We wish Loki well on his current and future responsibilities and adventures with Anita. ~The Fannon Family

Photos of the Team…