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John and Dora

Meet Graduate John

John and black Lab Dora sit for grad team portraitGraduate Team: John and Dora
About the Team: Dora, a female black Lab, is John’s 5th Guiding Eyes dog
Location: Coral Springs, Florida
Training: January 2023 On-Campus

John is a returning graduate, receiving his fifth guide dog since first being introduced to Guiding Eyes in 1982. John attended Florida Atlantic University and is a certified electronic and mechanical assembler. He has also earned certificates for classes taken in criminal law and medical training. John was born in Long Island, NY, but his family moved to western Pennsylvania when he was young. He grew up on a farm near the Amish community, where his days started early each morning, tending to the livestock and other necessary chores. In 1971, John relocated to Florida and now resides in Coral Springs, not far from Boca Raton, but a long way from the northeast weather, which he does not miss. John was born with retinitis pigmentosa and lost total vision in 2008. He is a widower, and for the past thirty years has been training horses professionally for timed events, such as rodeos. He also trains large breed dogs for friends and acquaintances. His hobbies include leather work, with a specialty in creating training devices for large breed dogs. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Dora is settling in nicely to her new home and is doing great. She can be playful and tends to be nosy, hence her nickname ‘Dora the Explorer’.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Back in 1982, my mother heard about a company that sponsored people who are visually impaired and in need of a guide dog. She checked into it and found different schools, and among them was Guiding Eyes. I learned at that time from other guide dog users about the quality of training, and the high standard of Guiding Eyes dogs.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “First, but maybe not foremost, I learned early on that guide dogs can be people magnets. When not working, they are very friendly and enjoy contact and attention. Since coming home, I have not gotten lost or had any mishaps, thanks to Dora. I can travel to new places and stores safely because it is so much easier to get around.”

Were there any training highlights? “I love to walk. We went to one particular park, the FDR, that was very large and the perfect starting point for training, because it was a steady walk. There was 1.8 miles of walking without curbs and traffic. The meals served were excellent and healthy, and helped keep me fit for all the walking. I also noted that since the last time I trained at Guiding Eyes in 2013, the campus provided barrier free ramps in addition to stairs. I worked with various trainers, including Stephanie, Michelle, Laurel and Dan, which was very positive because I learned something from each one, and possibly they each learned from me.”

Meet Guide Dog Dora

DOB:  4/12/2020
Litter ID: 4DD20
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Quail
Stud: Ryan
Littermates: Dawn, Durango, Dahlia, Derek, Dennis, Dante
Region:  Catoctin
Regional Puppy Instructor: Jeanyne Gembarski
Puppy Raiser:  The Vogel Family
Facebook: Catoctin Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Dora was our first puppy. It was a great learning experience for our family. Dora enjoyed going on a variety of outings. Dora was a quick learner and love to sit in close position. Dora had her own unique personality which was fun to be around.  ~The Vogel Family, Puppy Raisers

Photos of the Team…