Graduate Team: Audrey “Cici” and Texas
About the Team: Texas, a male yellow Lab, is Cici’s 1st guide dog
Hometown: Lakewood, Colorado
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Melissa Smith
Cici is an outgoing junior in high school, who aspires to earn her college degree in Early Childhood Education. She hopes to work with Special Needs children. Being a music lover, one of Cici’s favorite activities is singing in her school’s acapella group, Encore. She loves reading fantasy or fiction books and she also loves animals. Her family has many, including multiple dogs, cats, Dolly the horse, a mule called Rufus, a parrot, lizard, and guinea pig! Loveable and gentle Texas fits right in.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Texas is such a cuddle bug; very mellow. He’s handsome and soft and silky, as well as obedient and intelligent. He likes young kids; just licking them gently. He’ll be the first working dog to attend my school and I know he’ll do very well. When he’s working he’s very serious and determined. He learns quickly and is very good at figuring things out and finding his way around. We’ve been working on targeting doorknobs and stair handrails!”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I had heard great things about Guiding Eyes, and I liked the program. Home Training made it possible for me to get a guide dog. What most impressed me was the communication – fast and efficient. I received a call back very quickly and people were very nice. My trainer Melissa lives in my area and she was so good. The whole thing was perfect.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Texas has brought so much more to us than being a dog to guide me around. I feel so much better having him with me. He’s very ‘chill’ and has a calming effect. My mother doesn’t need to worry if I go for ice cream by myself or with friends, because I have a companion on the street keeping me safe. If I feel anxious, he licks me as if to say, ‘I’m here. Don’t worry.’ He does so much for me.”
Were there any training highlights? “On my usual route there is a group of trees with branches that hang down low, and before, I wouldn’t know I was too close until they brushed my face. Now, even though they are way above his eye level, Texas stops me before I walk into them. That’s amazing. I wasn’t expecting that.”
Texas is the perfect blend of laid-back, attentive and affectionate, but his super power is staying cool under pressure; thinking things through methodically. When he was 6 months old, I left my backpack on the NYC subway on a Saturday evening and we spent hours tracking it down. Tex must have been exhausted, but he was amazing. That was when I knew he would be a superb guide. I was so proud of him! Tex was the best – a great hiking companion and a very good teaching assistant in my piano studio. He was beloved, by not only my piano students, but by the entire neighborhood and his friend, my elderly cat. I always knew I was raising to help someone else, but I never dreamed how much raising would help me. Being a part of GEB has become a huge part of my life.
Alison Lund, Raiser of Texas
Texas was the first puppy I’d ever ‘started’ for someone, raising him for the first couple of months. He was a sweet little boy who picked up skills easily, and during that time, excelled at napping, eating, and playing with his puppy friends! He loved to snuggle on the floor and always settled down with a paw or his chin on my toes. It is an indescribable feeling to know that the little puppy you poured your heart into will walk alongside a perfect stranger, guiding them through life. How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. (-A.A. Milne in Winnie-the-Pooh)
Kyle Meade, Starter Raiser of Texas