Graduate Team: Brooklynn and Sadie
About the Team: Sadie, a female black Lab, is Brooklyn’s 1st guide dog
Hometown: Cromwell, Connecticut
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Kathy Rooney
Brooklynn is excited to be matched with her first guide dog, Sadie. As she enters her senior year of high school, she is considering the possibility of pursuing a degree in Marine Biology or Criminal Justice. She is a chapter officer in her school’s FFA, a student organization preparing members for leadership and career success. Brook loves animals, especially dogs, reptiles and ferrets. She has two gerbils and is currently fostering a savannah monitor lizard, displaced from the school during the pandemic. Brook also loves rock music festivals, playing guitar and bass for her own enjoyment, and hanging out with her friends.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Sadie is amazing. She loves working and will come running when she hears the jingle of her collar, ready to wear the harness and go. She is playful and loves tug-of-war with her toys. She has a cute habit of surrounding herself with her toys and snuggling with or sucking on them, when she’s tired out after playing.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “When I was 13 years old, I visited the Guiding Eyes campus and while I was there, I was able to do a Juno walk (a “test drive” with a guide dog). It seemed strange at first, but then I felt so confident walking! I had always been self-conscious with the cane and realized right away that where my cane would bump into things, a dog would steer me around them. I love dogs and knew right away I wanted to apply as soon as I was able.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life or what do you look forward to? “Having her beside me, I feel safer. I’m not able to see the curbs or cracks in the sidewalk, but Sadie has made walks and crossing the street so much easier. I have minimal vision inside – stairs and colors blend together, but since Sadie, I haven’t hit into anything – not even once! At school I’ve hidden my vision loss as much as possible, hiding my cane for fear of being judged, but I’m able to accept my blindness with Sadie and now I won’t be afraid.”
Were there any training highlights? “That moment would be the first time my trainer Kathy, unclipped the support leash on the way back from a training walk. I was walking with Sadie on my own and I felt so independent and in control. That was a great feeling.”
Sadie was always ready to take on the next challenge and learn something new. She walked with me at my college graduation and was amazing. Sadie was focused on me while walking through that challenging environment, with so many people and loud noises. I will always cherish having her with me that day and be impressed by how she handled it. What I enjoyed most about raising her was the love I received from Sadie and all the memories she gave me. She impacted my life, and I love knowing that Sadie is going to mean so much to her partner and they will have a future of love and memories together.
Gianna Zavota, Raiser of Sadie