Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Tiffani and Maggie

Meet Graduate Tiffani

Tiffani and black lab guide dog Maggie sit with heads close for team portraitGraduate Team: Tiffani and Maggie
About the Team: Maggie, a female black Lab, is Tiffani’s 1st guide dog
Location: Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Training: March 2023 On-Campus

Tiffani works for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance. She graduated with a degree in political science from Bridgewater State University in 2020. Tiffani volunteers at her church teaching religious education classes for 6th and 9th graders. Her teaching includes ancient history, bringing in outside influences and comparing them to the Bible, as well as background logistics of the faith. Tiffani lives with her parents, whom she describes as “incredibly supportive”. Her mother is a retired schoolteacher and her father a retired engineer, and their guidance and education helped prepare her for her degree and career path. In her free time, Tiffani loves to read fiction, such as Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, and Star Wars. She also enjoys knitting and crocheting.

How would you describe your guide dog? “In harness, she’s aware and engaged, and loves to work. She’s protective too. During one of our first trips into the city, there was construction work with a loud saw nearby and she would not let me go by, thinking it was unsafe. I don’t have to give her directions more than once because she’ll know where to go. Out of harness, Mags is mischievous and smart, figuring out my routine within a day or two. She loves anything squeaky – especially squeaky tug of war toys and playing fetch. At the same time, she can be very quiet.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I have a lot of residual vision, so I knew many schools would not accept me. Guiding Eyes was the school recommended to me by my vocational rehabilitation counselor. One of her clients had gone through Guiding Eyes and loved it, so she told me to try them. She’s been my VR counselor since high school, so I trust her. One thing that encouraged me to apply for a guide dog was that I have to go slower with a cane, and I’m a faster walker. I always have been. It takes me 15 to 20 minutes to walk a mile with Maggie where it would take me a half hour to walk with a cane.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “If I were a bird, it would be like my wings were suddenly unclipped. It’s freedom, independence, and being able to do things without worrying about being too tired from the activities I did the day before, to do it again the next day. I can actually walk the trails now too. I couldn’t do that once my depth perception got awful. I had no ability to walk outside aside from routes I knew well. I’m glad that I have Mags here to help because yesterday, we walked about four miles out on the trails. She’s probably one of the best opportunities I could’ve asked for.”

Were there any training highlights?  “The first day we went to a mall, we did escalator training and I hate escalators with a burning passion. Mags loves them and she could tell I was a bit nervous about it, but she was like ‘yeah, no, we’ve got this.’ A lot of things clicked for us as a team that day. Another experience, the second day I had her, would seem negative, but it wasn’t. I didn’t get enough sleep which was related to my room arrangement. I was an emotional wreck as well as exhausted, so it wasn’t a good day of training. When we got back to campus, I mentioned what was going on to my instructor. She arranged for us to move to a different dorm room and the next day we worked so well together and probably had the best route we had ever had at that point.”

Meet Guide Dog Maggie

DOB:  9/5/2020
Litter ID: 10MM20
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Noni
Stud: Oreo
Littermates: Mission, Miles, Maeve, Michael, Murphy, Marvin, Missy, Minnie, Martha, Marcie
Region:  Bay, Delmarva
Regional Puppy Instructor: Cindy Tait
Puppy Raiser:  Kathleen Flamm, The Westphal Family
Facebook: Bay Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Delmarva Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

We are so proud of Maggie! She is so smart and sweet, and it was a pleasure to help her grow up. As first- time raisers, she taught us as much as we taught her! We enjoyed her calm snuggles and her high-energy playtimes, and watching her figure out new challenges and solve problems. We are so happy that she has achieved this goal, and that she will make a difference! ~ The Westphal Family

Photos of the Team…