Briasia and Journey

Meet Graduate Briasa

Graduate Team:  Briasia and Journey
About the Team:  Journey, a female yellow Lab, is Briasia’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Paterson, New Jersey
Training:  November 2022 On-Campus

Briasa and her yellow Lab guide dog JourneyBriasia teaches preschool but has many interests to keep her busy when she’s not working. She enjoys making lanyards, which she grew up making at summer camp, in addition to pottery and other crafty activities. Briasia likes learning the different stitches and patterns, such as the “box” and “staircase”. Lanyards are easy to handle, and she can get in the zone when doing her stitches. She also likes bowling, going to arcades, reading, and binge-watching first responder and crime shows, like Law & Order, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, and Grey’s Anatomy. Briasia lives with her family, which includes a cat, a Yorkshire terrier, and now her guide, Journey. It is a close family relationship, and Briasia notes they know they will always have each other’s backs and will be there to protect and support one another.

How would you describe your guide dog? “We clicked the day we met. Overall, she’s affectionate, lovable, and a joy to be around. She loves snuggling and giving kisses. I never have to ask her to sit at my feet because she always does it on her own. I can be out of the room for 15 minutes and when I come back, it’s like she hasn’t seen me in 24 hours. Out of harness she’s friendly and so playful and loves tug of war. I could pet her for hours and she has a face that can solve all your problems. We’re attached to each other; she goes wherever I go and I’m so happy I went through this experience and got her at the end of the training.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I wanted a guide dog because of a fear of crossing big intersections. I can’t see it unless the car is close to me, so I would go out of my way and off my route to avoid crossing a multi-lane intersection. Our training with ‘traffic checks’ helped me get over my fear, and independently and confidently cross the street. I took Journey out near my house to get used to the area, since it’s populated and there are lots of people and cars. I didn’t see a car at a light coming from my right because I don’t have much peripheral vision and she did what she was supposed to do. She stopped, backed me up, and we waited until the path was clear. Getting in touch with Guiding Eyes and getting Journey has been the best decision I’ve made in my whole life.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Being able to travel independently at night has been tremendously easier with a guide dog, especially because she has the reflective strips on her vest that make it easier for people to see her and me. It’s a newfound independence I have with Journey, that I’m eternally grateful for. Having a guide dog has been the best experience. Training doesn’t end because you leave Guiding Eyes. It’s a continuous process and they help you with it throughout. I’ve been contacting my instructors and they’re always available to answer or help. It’s even more of a joy because it never bothered them that I ask a lot of questions. I’m thankful that your instructor is still there to give extra advice if you need it.”

Were there any training highlights? “I liked the training because it not only teaches you how to travel with the dog, but also that respect goes both ways, between you and the guide. It wasn’t just training and learning how to travel – it was also dog maintenance. The fact that they went through it so thoroughly was a highlight too. They sent us home with things for dog care and told us about their vaccinations. They went over the entire spectrum of having a service animal and being represented as a team. They told us about the ADA and discrimination -it’s good to be knowledgeable about having rights and the right to speak up. We ran routes over and over again, and at first, I thought, ‘man, this is annoying. Why do we need to keep doing this?’ but it’s to help you and the dog get familiar with the route. It’s truly a blessing that I found Guiding Eyes, and it’s surreal because how I found them was so random, but two days after I applied, I heard back. From maintenance and kitchen staff to nursing, they made it so accommodating -it was amazing beginning to end.”

Meet Guide Dog Journey

DOB:  5/10/2020
Litter ID: 5JJ20
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Mercy
Stud: Yarmouth
Littermates: Julie, Juniper, Jake, Jane, Jim
Region:  Eastern Montgomery
Regional Puppy Instructor: Jeanyne Gembarski
Puppy Raiser:  Carson Pursifull & Jacob Tate
Facebook: Montgomery Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Journey was a true pandemic puppy! She came to us in the Summer of 2020 while we were all still staying home and we had an older GEB pup home due to the kennel closure. None of that stopped Journey from excelling from the start. She learned to settle and handle distractions in our basement that served as office, obstacle course, laundry room, and more. When we were able to start getting her out in public, she immediately started generalizing her skills. She came to school and settled amazingly even when small children were very excited to see her! She made several road trips near and far with us, and each time would sleep for hours or quietly chew a toy. She has always had a remarkable talent to remain calm no matter the situation, so we know that she is going to be an amazing guide! Thank you to everyone in Guiding Eyes and the Montgomery Region who helped make Journey into the success she is today!  ~ Carson Pursifull, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…