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Catalina and Zephyr

Meet Graduate Catalina

Catalina sits with yellow Lab guide dog Zephyr for their graduate portraitGraduate Team:  Catalina and Zephyr
About the Team:  Zephyr, a female Lab and is Catalina’s 3rd guide dog (1st Guiding Eyes)
Location:  Edina, Minnesota
Training:  October 2023 On-Campus

Catalina has spent the last 19 years working in U.S. government service. She holds an associate degree in accounting and has worked with the IRS, USDA, and now the VA/Debt Management Center as an Accounts Receivable Tech. Zephyr is her first Guiding Eyes dog. She likes going to work with Catalina, resting in her office, and when off harness, greeting office co-workers who enter. Catalina loves crocheting and loom knitting and likes long walks and visiting her relatives in Chicago. She enjoys outings to the theater, plays, and concerts. Baroque music is her favorite, and she looks forward to attending chamber music or orchestra performances with Zephyr.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “In harness, Zephyr is very focused, wants to work, and is excited to follow commands.  She loves going to work with me.  I have a big, fluffy bed under my desk for her.  When she is out of harness, she is playful, loving, and very curious. She likes to retrieve squeaky toys, play tug, and wrestle.  Zephyr has beautiful strawberry blonde fur, and long legs.  She’s just beautiful. I get a lot of compliments on her.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I know several people in my area who had guide dogs from Guiding Eyes, and their dogs were really good. I read about the program and decided it would be a good fit for me. Guiding Eyes follows-up if I have a problem, and they come to me if that’s what I need.  The trainers had a dog picked out for me before I got to the school. They had come to my home, interviewed me, recorded me walking with my cane. They did a lot of preliminary things before matching Zephyr and I.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life?  “I enjoy the company.  I can move around quicker and it’s easier to find things. It is much easier to travel and maneuver around people and things. When you are walking down a sidewalk, you don’t have to worry about this pole or that tree.  I don’t have to worry about getting around tables and chairs that are set up in front of stores.  In my community, there are no sidewalks and stores are farther away, I’d like to move to an area with sidewalks next year and use Zephyr’s talents. I’ve enjoyed the company of having a guide dog for 21 years now.  Zephyr makes it easier for me to travel; we have a trip planned to Naples, Florida.”

Were there any training highlights?  “We took a commuter train to Grand Central Station in Manhattan. We took a long walk in the city, a couple of subway rides, and ate in a restaurant that had really good food. Zephyr was great the whole day.  These dogs are so smart. She knows that she can’t have table food, so she just goes to sleep. She was raised in Maine, so she was quite comfortable when we had a few inches of snow here. She was so happy to play in it.”

Meet Guide Dog Zephyr

DOB:  9/24/2021
Litter ID: 1ZZ21
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Nyla
Stud: Everett
Littermates: Zeb, Ziti, Zodiac, Zircon, Zach, Zoe, Zest
Region:  Maine
Regional Puppy Instructor: Lisa Bumbalo
Puppy Raiser:  Edie Konesni

From the Puppy Raiser…

From the moment we got her, Zephyr was curious. What’s this under my feet? What is that in the sky? I can hear something across the valley! She was raised in a rural area with hiking, nature (and chickens.) Swimming, especially with other pups, makes her smile. She has enjoyed challenges, and loves to work. Zephyr has been wonderful pup to raise. Congratulations on your graduation. We’re sure you will soar together!  ~Edie Konesni, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…