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Fred and Linus

Meet Graduate Fred

graduate Fred and yellow Lab guide dog LinusGraduate Team: Frederick and Linus
About the Team: Linus, a male yellow Lab, is Fred’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown: Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Kathy Rooney
February Home Training

 Fred recently relocated from Pennsylvania to Great Barrington, Mass. with his wife of 28 years, Heidi, whom he met at a Sixties party through a mutual friend. They share two children, Alexander, 25, a graduate of the University of Vermont working for an environmental consulting firm, and Nora, 22, diagnosed with an intellectual disability and residing in a shared living home within Stanton Home, where she enjoys horticulture, gardening and art. Heidi has a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Mary Washington College. Fred graduated from Colby College with a bachelor’s degree in Music and has a master’s degree from Drexel University in Arts Administration. He works as a computer programmer for Verizon and is looking forward to retirement, which he says is just around the corner. In preparation for retirement, he recently purchased a new mandolin, which he plans on enjoying during his free time. He also enjoys hiking, and their property bordering East Mountain in the Berkshires, offers the family quick access to hiking trails, literally starting in their backyard. He and his wife also enjoy music, particularly Bluegrass, and the theater arts, which are plentiful in the Berkshires. Fred, the son of an ophthalmologist, was diagnosed by his father, with retinitis pigmentosa. He began losing a significant amount of vision beginning around the age of thirty.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Linus has a much different personality from my previous guide dog, Harley. Linus is a big goofball, and as wide and strong as a linebacker. He is extremely affectionate and always trying to get my wife’s attention, but he is self-entertaining. Harley, although retired, likes to hang around and play with Linus. They can often be seen playing tug of war with their toys. Both Harley and Linus love to sit in my lap exhibiting great affection.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Three colleagues, who worked for Verizon a number of years ago, had guide dogs provided by Guiding Eyes. One of them became a close friend and described the positive and fun experience with Guiding Eyes. I kept it in the back of my mind until such time that I applied for a guide dog, which resulted in getting Harley.”

 How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It was a game changer, receiving a guide dog. I have gained much more independence. I no longer have to worry about obstacles and my wife keeping an eye out for me when we go for walks. In this respect, it enabled my wife and I to have conversations without being distracted by our surroundings.”

Were there any training highlights? “Kathy Rooney, who is assigned to our region in Massachusetts, was the Regional GDMI in Pennsylvania, where I lived when I trained with Harley in 2015, so she has been involved to some degree with my training with both Harley and Linus. I felt that my home training with Linus was advantageous because it helped Linus and I get more familiar with our new community in Great Barrington.”

Meet Guide Dog Linus

Guiding Eyes should have known when they named Linus he would have a favorite blanket. He had it nearby whenever he could. Some of Linus’s favorite things are swimming and diving. He enjoyed our trips to Starbucks and made lots of friends. We had Linus during the pandemic and it made it difficult to go to all the familiar places we were used to, but we also had Linus longer which was a bonus. One of our favorite trips with Linus before the pandemic was to the State Capitol, where we had a guided tour inside and Linus did great. Linus and Keebler, our other lab, became fast friends. Good luck to Linus and his new person. We wish you many wonderful years together.

Barbara and Richard Katz, Puppy Raisers of Linus

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