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Linda and Disney

Meet Graduate Linda

Graduate Linda and black & tan Lab DisneyGraduate Team: Linda and Disney
About the Team:  Disney, a male black & tan Lab, is Linda’s 6th guide dog
Hometown:  Erving, Massachusetts
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Marybeth Totaro
March On-Campus Training

Linda’s 6th guide dog, Disney, is her first from Guiding Eyes. She is married with two grown children. She has been employed for thirty-four years as a professional vocational rehabilitation counselor. For the past twelve years she has served as the unit supervisor of her office, leading a talented team of professional counseling staff. Linda has expanded job responsibilities, as an administrative review officer, conducting hearings on a statewide level to mediate and resolve disputes. She also provides and coordinates outreach to community entities such as high schools and a variety of human service organizations to inform and advise the public on the use of the varied vocational and independent living resources available through her agency. She enjoys very much the work she does, and Disney has proven himself a positive addition in her work setting.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Disney is a charming dog, and his personality is perpetually cheerful. He is such a happy soul. Disney exceeds all my expectations. In harness, he adjusted easily to my office environment and settles well. When we go into schools or other community settings, he needs to be welcoming and appropriate, in addition to being a steady guide. People are really impressed when we’ve gone out. Out of harness Disney is playful and a joy to be with. He is adorable and very expressive. He has already found his place in our home as a great family member. Disney and our German Shepherd can be found relaxing together in front of our wood stove or sharing a ball. My husband is constructing a fenced-in area where I can safely play with Disney and the two dogs can also run and play together. I am so grateful; Disney is such a gift.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I had heard Guiding Eyes offers individualized training and had a welcoming and client-centered environment. I was also impressed that there are additional programs for runners and those who are deaf-blind. I feel so grateful to have trained at Guiding Eyes.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Disney gives me confidence to access new possibilities. There is a new bus route now available in my rural area, and Kathy Rooney will help Disney and me to acclimate to the route to my office. I feel a stronger sense of independence. I appreciate attending meetings, events, and church with Disney rather than a cane or using sighted guide. With a guide dog I feel more like myself when navigating through the world. I do enjoy walking year-round and hope to introduce Disney next winter to snow shoeing too.”

Were there any training highlights?  “I love how the training focuses on the use of rewards. It is so positive for the handler and the dog. My Guiding Eyes instructor Marybeth Totaro was so encouraging and supportive. Her warmth and sense of humor enhanced the training experience so much. A funny thing happened on class. One day Marybeth, Disney and I were training in Mt. Kisco, and she suddenly said, ‘Stop.’ She explained that a chipmunk had approached from our left and had run right over Disney’s front paws. Though Disney didn’t miss a beat, had Marybeth not stopped me I would have trampled on the poor chipmunk. I was so impressed with Disney! Once home, I have been fortunate to receive valuable training from Kathy Rooney, Regional GDMI. Working Disney in my home area and having the additional 1:1 instruction has been a great benefit.”

Meet Guide Dog Disney

Disney was one of the best mannered pups I have raised. He had natural instincts of human expectations, therefore making him an easy puppy to raise. He likes to please and is a go with the flow kinda guy. He was always up for an adventure or could just chill. Puppy sitters enjoyed his home swaps as much as he did. He played well with people and dogs; always a” wiggly Butt” from him when he had your attention. I’m so happy he can share his guide dog abilities and love with his new graduate.

Denise Barber, Puppy Raiser of Disney


Enjoy these photos of the team and Disney as a pup on program…