Bobbie and Zane

Meet Graduate Bobbie

Graduate Bobbie and yellow Lab guide dog Zane

May Home Training
Graduate Team:  Bobbie and Zane
About the Team:  Zane, a yellow male Labrador, is Bobbie’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Pulaski, Tennessee
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Susan Kroha

Bobbie is a 25-year veteran of the United States Army. She was deployed to Vietnam, and for twenty of her years of service worked as a Counterintelligence Agent, using surveillance and observation, while interpreting, analyzing, and assembling data that could affect operations. Bobbie was part of a close-knit group of women, doing military and civilian clearances through background investigation, with shared reports going to other intelligence groups. She left the Army in 1990, but returned in 2010, spending five more years with a guard unit when her capabilities were needed again. In the interim, she joined a Tennessee law enforcement agency and was also an instructor at the law enforcement academy. Bobbie has earned three undergraduate degrees: one in Theater, another in Business, and a third in Criminal Justice. Her pursuit of higher education has also resulted in a graduate degree in Counseling.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Zane is my first guide dog. Out of harness, he is a great companion. He is always by my side.  He is a good size, cuddly, and very playful.  In harness, he works hard and pays close attention to my needs and assists me while we go to places like the doctor’s office and physical therapy. He is very dependable and so highly trained.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I had lost the sight in one eye while in the service.  I lost the vision in my other eye after returning home. After leaving the military, I attended Birmingham VA Medical Center for blind veterans. Also, I worked for Disabled American Veterans in my home county as a veteran service representative, helping other veterans with the V.A. red tape and paperwork involved with their records of service and medical records. It was at the Southeastern Blind Resource Center that I met someone with a Guiding Eyes dog, and a mobility instructor who told me about Guiding Eyes. Due to my disabilities, my gait is slower and Guiding Eyes was willing to find a dog that would match my slower gait.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life? “I went from being a hermit alone in my house, to being a mobile person again, out in society shopping at Walmart, Tractor Supply, and Home Depot, and going to doctor’s offices. I am no longer housebound waiting for someone to take me places. While I’m shopping, Zane guides me around obstacles in the aisles and to people if I have questions. We can go to the park or out to eat. I’ve had an interesting life. I’m out and going now. I’m putting mileage on.”

Were there any training highlights? “The one-on-one training and supervision were so helpful, and with positive, meaningful feedback. We trained in various town situations including a mall, library, and community center.  Zane and I would walk around town for a couple of hours with Susan, my instructor, then we’d go back and rest during the time she was out with another student. When they’d come back, we’d go out again.  We went for coffee at a restaurant and practiced how to place your dog in a way that he wouldn’t get hurt or be in the way.  Before we left, someone came from the veterinary department to talk with us and taught us how to best care for our dogs. I had had a few interruptions during the whole process, including some lingering military medical issues, and breaking my leg in a fall, so my Guiding Eyes trainer, Susan came to my home and completed my training, and the school sent me my certificate.”

Meet Guide Dog Zane

Raising Zane was truly a Beller-Staryak family affair over two years. Zane was featured as a part of the AKC Puppy Pack, where they promoted his journey on their social media channels. Meanwhile, he held down a 9-5 job at Vector Media, where he gave cuddles, rode double-decker buses, snoozed through meetings, and was adored. Our favorite memories with Zane include: family hikes, beach swims, NYRR race cheering, and going out to eat. Zane even played matchmaker; solidifying the puppy love between Lizzie and Adam, who were married just before IFT! Zane was a pleasure to raise. His sweet teddy bear nature was complimented by his hard work, constant reliability, and the size of his heart. We are thrilled for his next chapter. We love you Zane-y!!

Lizzie Beller Staryak and Lisa Staryak, Puppy Raiser of Zane


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