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Tracey and George

Meet November Home Training Graduate Tracey

Graduate Team:  Tracey and George
About the Team:  George, a male black Lab, is Tracey’s 6th Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Portland, Maine
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  James Gardner

Tracey grew up in the state of Maine and enjoys listening to the waves as she walks along Portland’s paths bordering the ocean. She earned her associates degree and worked in Hotel/Motel Restaurant Management for a time, before eventually branching out into Banking and Finance. Tracey makes her living as a Business Management Analyst and has worked at her current bank for nearly 6 years. Tracey’s career change didn’t dampen her love of cooking, as now she enjoys trying out new recipes found on the Food Network website. Since childhood Tracey has loved Labrador Retrievers and is especially fond of a certain black Lab named George. 

How would you describe your guide dog?  “I am so happy with George, and I know he’ll be a great dog for me. I could tell after just two days; we bonded so quickly. People have commented that he is very attentive, always looking up at me. He’s very loving, often getting half in my lap when I’m sitting quietly. He is such a character -I think if he was a person, he’d be the type that likes to joke around. He loves to work. When I get out the harness, he first grabs a toy, runs in a circle, then comes right over to show he’s ready. He’s a good boy.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I initially came to Guiding Eyes for my first dog, Cuddles, in August 1992 before leaving for college. That first match was so successful, I have always stuck with Guiding Eyes. Another of my guides, Mystic was phenomenal, working with me for 10 ½ years. When my previous guide Calla needed to retire during the pandemic, I had faith in Guiding Eyes, and I got the support I needed. The Training Department knew what I was looking for in a dog; I knew he would be a good one.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “In nothing but a positive way! I’m so much more independent with him. When my last guide retired, I was without a dog for nine months. Now I get out more; I get to the store faster, get on a bus, in a taxi or choose to walk. I am able to get where I want to go. George has added a huge amount of independence and of course, he is just awesome company.”

Were there any training highlights?  “He has an incredible memory. The first thing I noticed, was it only takes once, and he remembers. Right away he knew where we get the mail and he’ll remind me, ‘here’s the general store, here’s Starbucks – did you want to stop?’ You can tell he is very intelligent. Recently we were with friends, and when we came out of the restaurant after dark, we had a laugh over him helping them find where they parked the car. He had a good puppy raiser and a fantastic instructor. I was educated by Jim about many things and how a guide might be affected by specifics, like bridges, in my area. Home Training worked out well for me.”

Meet Guide Dog George

George was amazing in every way; a confident pup that just wanted to be with people and learn how the world worked. George and I would go on many nature walks. We both enjoyed getting out and exploring the woods or fields. When he got older, we also enjoyed agility training. I started training dogs well before I met George and thought I knew most of what it takes to train a dog. George taught me just as much as I taught him. George showed his resilience at a very young age, when at 10 weeks he injured his leg. He did great and didn’t mind the vet visits. Finding new ways to challenge George’s mind while keeping him physically quiet was a challenge. We had to get creative with his training and worked on “checking in” and eye contact. He managed to flourish and never missed a step.  I was proud of him for making it through that hurdle and excelling in his usual greatness. I loved my experience with George. I will be forever grateful for what he brought to my life. Thank you to everyone at Guiding Eyes for all that they do. It is nice to see an organization who truly makes a difference in this world.

Rachel DeWitt, Puppy Raiser of George

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