Graduate Team: Lisa and Tora
About the Team: Tora, a female yellow Lab, is Lisa’s 4th Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown: Mill Valley, California
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: James Gardner (September Home Training)
Lisa is a graduate student at Western Michigan University where she is studying Vision Rehabilitation Therapy, with the goal of working at a nonprofit helping older clients who are experiencing vision loss. In her free time Lisa enjoys cooking and reading, especially mysteries, suspense books, and books about dogs. Lisa is a member of a faith-based, social justice organization that works to help the community and people in need. Lisa is married, and when not at school, lives with her husband and two cats back home in California.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Tora is perky, curious, squirrelly, and just a very sweet girl. I use ‘squirrelly’ in an affectionate way; she leans on her head and flops over and it’s so silly. She’ll sit on me and look as if she’s thinking, ‘well, I’m just a 70lb puppy’!”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I applied to Guiding Eyes for my first guide dog because it was a name I knew. I was from New York, and it seemed like the place to go. With my subsequent dogs I was really pleased with the thoroughness of the training and how personable the staff is. Kathy and Jim really thought outside the box to ensure I could receive a home training and that meant a lot to me. Jim is something else; he has a lot of experience and is definitely a straight shooter. I always knew where I stood with him, and he really cares about the dogs and the work that he does. He’s such a conscientious individual and I really liked working with him.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I’m pretty proficient to begin with, in terms of getting out and getting around, but guide dogs have really helped me relax. Before Tora, I was between dogs for a few years, and I used a cane. I do think working with a cane has a lot of value, but when travelling with one, I got almost too much information. With a guide dog, you get different information and feedback because they’ll walk you around obstacles automatically, whereas a cane picks up on so much. I’m much more relaxed when I’m out and about with my guide dog.”
Were there any training highlights? “She’s quick to learn and I was just so impressed by her. I think in general she picks things up super-fast; quicker than I did when we were out working together. When Tora works, she is really very focused, and I think the treats may have something to do with that! She truly is so intelligent. The entire experience was positive, and I am just super indebted to the Slaughters, Tora’s puppy raisers, for dedicating their time to raising her and all the effort put into her.”
Tora is an all-around rock star! She is super smart and picked up commands quickly, so we gave her the nickname, “Mrs. Peabody” because of how fast she learned! She is also very calm and well-behaved when on outings and in puppy class. Tora was with us during the COVID-19 pandemic and although we were worried she would fall behind in her socialization because we couldn’t go anywhere beyond the park, she definitely proved it would not put a stop to her training. She took every outdoor outing as a learning experience. She was always well-behaved and respectful. I think her favorite outing was going to the beach with us and our dogs. She had a lot of fun playing in the waves and learning how to walk on sand! Tora’s super calm demeanor was what we enjoyed the most about raising her. Tora is a very sweet dog and we hope Lisa enjoys working with her as much as we did! We know the two of them will do amazing things together!
Katerina and Lucas Slaughter & family, Puppy Raisers of Tora