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Gail and Journey

Meet Graduate Gail

Gail sits next to yellow Lab guide dog Journey for their team portraitGraduate Team: Gail and Journey
About the Team: Journey, a female yellow Lab, is Gail’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown: Sandy Springs, Georgia
Training: January 2024 Home Training

Gail is a retired elementary education teacher who views her long career with a delightful sense of humor, sharing that she taught everything, including manners, during those thirty years of teaching. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Michigan. Around the age of twenty-five, Gail’s vision began its decline due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP), prompting her to pursue a second master’s degree from Georgia State University in counseling, to prepare for a possible career shift. Her vision is now limited to light and shapes. Her hobbies include a book club, a writers’ group and traveling. She has written several fiction and non-fiction stories for children. Gail has also written a chapter book for kids about a guide dog team, based on her experiences with her first guide dog, Pippi. She hopes to get these stories published in the near future. Gail currently lives north of Atlanta, Georgia, but was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, the home of Motown Record Company, famous for artists like the Temptations. She has traveled, both in groups and alone, to exciting places throughout the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Journey is Gail’s second guide dog from Guiding Eyes. Her first guide, Pippi, is living contentedly in retirement with friends in Columbus, Georgia.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Journey is single purpose minded. She is an excellent worker when in harness. She loves doing her job. When not in harness, she enjoys playing. She is a high energy girl. I have adapted to her playful personality which includes kissing and licking my face every opportunity she gets. I joke with my friends and warn them about Journey’s love of kissing people by saying, ‘Watch out, my dog can’t hold her licker!’”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I did my research on guide schools at a conference for Foundation Fighting Blindness. I asked those with guide dogs which school they used, would they recommend it and how was the school with asking follow-up questions. Guiding Eyes was one of the top two.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I am not afraid of dogs anymore. That’s significant. My friends are amazed that all their dogs love me because I was afraid of dogs for most of my life. I overcame my fear in order to get a guide dog. Also, I feel less isolated. Being social is in my DNA and receiving a guide dog was the avenue to greater socialization for me. There were six months between Pippi’s retirement and the acquisition of Journey. Any confidence lost with Pippi’s retirement, I gained back with Journey. Also, when people see us together, the first thing they say is that our hair is the same color. I tell them hers is natural and mine’s from a salon. She brings so much joy to me as well as others.”

Were there any training highlights?  “I liked the opportunity for personalized training from my home this time, within its busy surrounding streets. I have lost a great deal of sight over the past three years. Being trained in my own back yard makes me feel safer. I had many laughs with my trainer, Melinda. I learned at the beginning of the training that Journey wanted to be close by and would always keep a very close eye on me.”

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…