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Doula and Bushka

Meet Graduate Doula

Doula sits on a sunny bench with smiling yellow lab guide dog BushkaGraduate Team:  Doula and Bushka
About the Team:  Bushka, a female yellow lab, is Doula’s 4th guide dog
Hometown:  Denver, Colorado
Training: October 2022 Home Training

Doula is active in her community and involved with the National Federation of the Blind, (NFB), on both the state and national level. On the National level she serves as secretary for the National DeafBlind division. She’s active in the state affiliate as well, the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, and is president of the Colorado DeafBlind division. The governor also appointed her to serve on Colorado’s DeafBlind Citizen Council. As a DeafBlind person she often advocates for the DeafBlind community and supports others who have her rare genetic disorder, Alstrom Syndrome. Doula recently started dialysis, so much of her time now is spent managing her health and being a homemaker. Doula lives with her husband, who served in the Navy for six years, her husband’s PTSD dog Spike, and Sirius Brown, her PTSD dog. Her parents and older brother also live in the Denver area with her. She loves singing and any genre of music, and she used to participate in theater when she was younger. When she needs to de-stress, she listens to children’s music because it’s relaxing. Doula also enjoys cooking and baking. Although her food intake and diet are restricted because of kidney disease, she recently baked banana bread as a door prize for the National Federation for the Blind’s State Convention.

How would you describe your guide dog? “She is a serious worker and she’s calm, which is great. My previous guide dog was bouncy and would be up and down at a restaurant, and Bushka is relaxed and focused on her work. If I have to stop and take a break to catch my breath, because I’m on oxygen, she’s really patient and willing to wait and is ready to go when we’re going. Also, I’m new to the Unifly harness, which is great, but I’m still taking some time to adjust to that as opposed to the more traditional harness I used for over 20 years. I have arthritis in my wrist and elbow, so the new harness is easier to use.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  I got my first guide dog in 1997. I had a friend who had a dog from Guiding Eyes, and I was impressed with how that dog worked. I also liked the family-type feeling that Guiding Eyes has and that they’re supportive of their graduates. Bushka is my fourth dog from Guiding Eyes and she’s the first dog I’ve gotten through the specialized training program. I needed a dog with a slower pace, so Guiding Eyes works with me and other people who apply, and I’ve always liked the school.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I’m a decent cane user, but I’m kind of slow and I’m DeafBlind. I’m totally blind and wear hearing aids with my moderate hearing loss, so some things with the cane are more difficult. I’m not always able to use echo location and sometimes estimating things can be challenging, but with a guide dog, you’re not finding all those obstacles, you’re going around them. It’s teamwork, which I enjoy, and I’ve always loved dogs since I was a kid, so having a dog is something that seems right. I have a better pace with a dog, and I feel like I’m more confident and happier working with a guide dog.”

Were there any training highlights? “One of the things that really stood out to me was when we went to our King Soopers Supermarket. When we went in, the store was busy with workers restocking and people shopping, and Bushka did amazing when I worked her. Most of what we did during training was working outside and areas that were more open. Having that experience of being somewhere more crowded and congested, which I know is more challenging for a dog, and seeing how she handled that situation, was one thing that stands out in my mind.”

Meet Guide Dog Bushka

DOB:  1/6/2019
Litter ID: S-10B19
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Ivory
Stud: Kennedy
Littermates: Bailey, Britta, Betsy, Beatrix, Brooklyn, Breeze, Buttons, Brindy, Berta
Region:  Orange County
Regional Puppy Instructor: Elizabeth Vacchiano
Puppy Raiser:  The Rauschenbach Family
Facebook: Orange County Puppy Raisers

Special Recognition: Bushka was special named by Suzie and Bruce Kovner and was also a Pathfinder Pup. A Pathfinder Society member -an individual who has made a future legacy gift to Guiding Eyes -received reports and photos of Bushka’s progress from  puppyhood to graduation.

From the Puppy Raiser…

Bushka’s greatest strength was staying focused on me while walking. She improved so much with checking in and ignoring distractions such as dogs or people. During a walk and talk, we were at the mall and a young child ran up behind Bushka and grabbed her tail. She completely ignored him and continued walking forward. It did not phase her at all. Bushka loved to go on car rides to Starbucks and get a pupcup and she also loved visiting Home Depot and checking out all the different underfootings. I enjoyed the connection I made with Bushka the most. She has the sweetest personality and is always ready to give love. I also enjoyed her attitude. She was very confident and always ready to learn something new. She picked up new commands quickly and with some practice she had them perfect. I am so happy that Bushka is going to have such an amazing impact on someone’s life. She is the best dog and I wish her and her partner the best! ~ Lizzi Rauschenbach, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…