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Anne and Bronson

Meet Home Training Graduate Anne

Graduate Anne and guide dog BronsonGraduate Team:  Anne and Bronson
About the Team:  Bronson, a male black Lab, is Anne’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Georges Mills, New Hampshire
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Nikki Wentz (July Home Training)

Annie, a New Hampshire native, graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Elementary Education and Educational Psychology. She grew up in New London, N.H. riding and working with horses, so after college she combined her love of kids and horses by managing a horse show barn, teaching riding to children.  Before losing her sight from diabetes in her 20’s, Annie was the Director of Riding at Colby-Sawyer College and head coach of their Intercollegiate Equestrian Team, which won the National Championship that year. She is the fortunate recipient of two successful transplants, first a pancreas and then a kidney donated by her brother. Annie’s life revolves around her animals and family, and an incredible support system of friends. She is happy and grateful to add her “life changer” guide dog, Bronson to the team. 

How would you describe your guide dog?  “First and foremost, Bronson is a lovebug; sweet and loving all the time and loves to snuggle. When the harness comes out, he gets so excited because he loves to work.  He is as excited as I am, to get out and about, and do things. He works hard, checking in often to be sure I’m ok. It’s as if he knows I’m all new to this and he’s doing a little teaching, for which I am thankful. He’s the best dog. He makes everything so much fun. He’s my buddy.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?   “I have a friend locally who now has her second Guiding Eyes dog. I watched her get her first and saw how wonderful he was. He took her through graduating high school, college, then getting her masters and first job. I knew, when the time comes that I need a dog, that’s where I’m going. He was so well-trained, and they were such a great team that worked well together. I thought it was really something special, that Guiding Eyes not only bred and trained such amazing dogs, but they took the time to make such a wonderful match and helped them develop a partnership. That’s what I wanted.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “We’ve gone hiking a few times, which we both really enjoy. With Bronson I can look up and around and cruise right along. It’s just amazing – the freedom. I’ve had health issues all my life and I just always kept going; thinking what I have is what I have and I’m not going to stop. Same with when my vision decreased more; that’s what I must live with, and I’ll keep going with my cane and work with what I have. Then I got Bronson and my life opened up. He is my life changer. Bronson gave me back so much that I didn’t realize I’d been missing, but now I have it again.”

Were there any training highlights?  “My instructor Nikki was wonderful. She took the time to help Bronson fit in with my two pet dogs. She has a horse, so she got Bronson accustomed to horses before he came here. Also, I told her as we sat in the grocery store parking lot, going in would be the most stressful adventure we’d attempted so far. I was worried I would not be able to give him the directions he needed. First, we carefully worked the perimeter and the next thing you know he’s leading me down aisles, around displays and zig zagging past people and carts. We’re just flying around; no problem! We took a break, and as I was petting and praising him, I burst into tears. I told Nikki, ‘I love him so much; look at what he just did for me.’ Something silly like a grocery store, but he makes it so much easier.”

Meet Guide Dog Bronson

Raising Bronson was amazing! One of the positives of the Covid pandemic – it gave us extra time with this special pup! The first word that comes to mind to describe Bronson is happy! If a dog could smile – he would be all the time! He has a sweet nature and loves to be around people! He is known for his never-ending wagging tail! You always hear a thump, thump, thump (x100) as you enter a room. He loves fleece blankets and emptying the toy bin! Bronson enjoys long walks in the woods, riding in the truck, and snuggling.   He has a great work ethic and loves to run! We are so excited for this next leg of his journey with Annie! Way to go Bronson Burger! You make a great team!!

The Sortore Family, Puppy Raiser of Bronson

Enjoy these photos of the team and Bronson as a pup on program…