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John and Gibbs

Meet Graduate John

John sits with black Lab guide Gibbs for their team portrait

Graduate Team: John and Gibbs
About the team: Gibbs, a male black Lab, is John’s 1st guide dog
Location: Orlando, Florida
Training:  August 2023 On-Campus

John and his wife Ann live in Orlando, Florida with their yellow Lab rescue, Millie. The newest member of the family, Gibbs, is John’s first guide dog. John is a human resources specialist for Cru, a Christian nonprofit with ministries across the country and world. Before making Florida their home, John and his wife lived in Eastern Europe, (Romania and Hungary specifically), for 26 years. In his free time John enjoys being active within his church, reading, and spending time outdoors.

How would you describe your guide dog?  Gibbs is gentle, loyal, ready to play, and a true snuggler! He’s incredibly patient. At work I have a bed next to my desk. Sometimes he’ll be there for an hour or two and be pretty chill about it. At home we have two beds by our fireplace which is just outside of our bedroom. He enjoys trying to get Millie to play with him. He’s a fun loving dog and is a good worker too.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “My wife had been talking about it for ten years. She loved the idea, but I was just warming up to it. She said ‘John, sometimes I think your white cane isolates you. I wonder if having a guide dog might draw people towards you.’ I thought that was insightful. The companionship of having a guide dog appealed to me. Somebody from Guiding Eyes came to a conference I went to in the summer of 2022 and brought a dog. That just gave us some exposure and brought it up again in our minds. We were talking with other people at the conference and with those that have had guide dogs, and it gave me a growing confidence that having a guide dog might open up new doors and opportunities.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I just moved from one office building to another, so three weeks into having him I had to reorient him to a different workplace, and I found that challenging. I see the potential of how he will help me get around more smoothly, but we’re still working on that. It’s fun to play around with him and see how other people respond. It’s been very enjoyable. We’re actually going to have an open house in a few weeks and invite our neighbors over to introduce them to Gibbs and expose them to blindness. Having him has given me some new points of contact and connection with people.”

Were there any training highlights? “A few things come to mind: the learning environment and getting to know the other handlers and hearing their life stories. I found it very meaningful. I think being there with other people who had experience with guide dogs was huge. Another thing was the posture of the instructors. They have a lot of knowledge and insight, but they also value our experiences, saying things like, ‘here’s what I’ve noticed but let me know what you think.’ A few weeks after I got home, Regional GDMI, Nikki, came and spent a day and a half with me. I was kind of struggling, but having her come answered some of my questions and filled in some blanks. She went with Gibbs and I to my neighborhood, my office, my church, and some stores. I felt a lot more confident after having that time with her.”

Meet Guide Dog Gibbs

DOB:  3/31/2021
Litter ID: 2G21
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Fortune
Stud: Dasher
Littermates: Grayson, Gatsby, Gonzo, General, Gemini, Grover, Gideon, Guthrie
Region:  Colorado
Regional Puppy Instructor: Kerry Lemerise
Puppy Raiser:  Paul Huebner
Facebook: Colorado Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Gibbs is Daddy’s good boy. Always ready to please and always ready for an adventure. Gibbs loves being outdoors and loved growing up in Colorado. He loved playing in the snow and cuddling with his pack afterward. He’ll always be on our mind and in our heart. ~ Paul Huebner, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…