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Bob and Gage

Meet Graduate Bob

Bob sits next to black Lab guide dog Gage for team portrait

Graduate Team:    Bob and Gage
About the Team:   Gage is a male black Labrador Retriever and Bob’s 1st guide dog
Location:   Concord, New Hampshire
Training:   April 2024 On-Campus

Bob is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with the Vermont Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He has a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Western Michigan University.  Bob and his wife Jess have been married for almost 23 years and relocated from Michigan to New Hampshire a few years ago. While adjusting to progressive vision loss from Retinitis Pigmentosa, working with an O&M instructor in 2016 in Kalamazoo was life changing. Accepting using a cane, opened up a sense of independence. Now, with his first guide dog, Bob is experiencing a new level of confidence and independence. With Gage, Bob and Jess enjoy visiting restaurants and exploring new places. They love being outdoors and experiencing the lakes and mountains of New England. They also like walking, hiking, and traveling to the beaches in Maine. Bob also plays guitar in his downtime.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Gage loves people and other dogs.  He is happy, friendly, and bounces with eagerness to do things. He’s got lots of energy but at a birthday party with young children, he was quite gentle. When in harness, Gage loves to work. He wants to do a good job and enjoys new routes. He’s visited the ocean, Boston, Concord, Montpelier, and attended staff meetings.  He handles anything I ask of him.  He’s a great dog.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “A former co-worker has had several Guiding Eyes guide dogs and spoke highly of the school. I knew many guide dog users, so I did my homework and took the opportunity to learn, observe, and listen. It seemed that Guiding Eyes was the right fit for me. I like the training philosophy and focus on positive reinforcement. I’ve had dogs my whole life and used that approach. Gage is a happy, well-trained dog that loves to work.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life?  “It’s a gift to go for a walk on my own with my dog. As part of the Running Guide Dog program, it was the first time I had been running outside, by myself in 20 years. I feel confident and independent when I reach my destination, knowing that he is guiding me safely. Gage is always paying attention. It’s comforting to have such a well-trained dog. I’m just beginning to understand what he is capable of. One of the things I appreciate most about Guiding Eyes is the post-graduate support.  The regional instructor visited after I came home, to give a few pointers and to see how things were going.”

Were there any training highlights?  “Michelle was our class trainer, and very good at what she does. The highlight of this training was the quality, organization, and cohesiveness of a great team. “They helped to build our confidence and challenged us, but they also made it fun. One of the days I’ll remember well, was when we went by train to a local town and had lunch at outside tables, a fun time at the end of an amazing two-week experience. The whole process was outstanding, and I really appreciate the professionalism and quality of instruction. The food, and the kitchen staff with Chef Rob, were fantastic. I enjoyed being there.  It was a great atmosphere. The people at Guiding Eyes care about what they are doing, and it shows. I am so grateful, and the best way I can show that is to take care of this dog the way Guiding Eyes did.  Gage will always know that he is loved.”

Meet Guide Dog Gage

DOB:  2/6/2022
Litter ID: 4G22
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Brood: Eloise
Stud: Odin
Littermates: Greta, Georgette, Giada
Region:  Cleveland West
Regional Puppy Instructor: Macy Nauman
Puppy Raiser:  The Meler Family, Jennie Schaef
Facebook: Ohio Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Gage is a sweet boy who enjoyed lots of outings with other raisers and loved his training time and classes. He was such a cuddle-bug and couldn’t get enough loving! We went on many adventures and attended lots of festivals. Though I only “finished” him and my time with him was short, I’m proud of what he’s accomplished and I know he will excel in his next chapter. Congrats Gage!! We miss you. ~ Jennie Schaef 

Photos of the Team…