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Veronica and Lacy

Meet Graduate Veronica

Veronica sits with arm around black Lab guide dog Lacy for team portrait

Graduate Team:   Veronica and Lacy
About the Team:  Lacy is a female black Lab and Veronica’s 1st Guiding Eyes dog
Location:   Santa Cruz, California
Training:   December 2023 On-Campus

Veronica has been a guide dog user since 1974, and now she and her husband of 46 years are welcoming her first Guiding Eyes dog, Lacy, into their home. Blind since birth, Veronica has had a long career as a professional musician. She is a composer and singer with her own recording studio, and for several decades was a symphony musician playing the viola and doing solo performances. With the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, she transitioned from viola to keyboard. She was president of the musician’s union, and for a time, the head of the collective bargaining teams. With her own recording studio, she began creating her music on CDs and albums, and developed a vast online presence on various platforms. Pre-pandemic she enjoyed song-writer events and performances. Veronica volunteers for the county elections and the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee, as well as at the state level.  She chairs the Santa Cruz County Elderly and Disabled Transportation Advisory Committee, and the Metro Accessibility Advisory Committee, and serves on the Accessible Insulin Pump Task Force. She is a voice for disabled people, working with manufacturers, the FDA, and others, addressing the effect of fast-moving technology and the move from tactile buttons to touch screens.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Lacy is learning her way around well. She learns very quickly and likes to figure things out.  She’s a fun, snuggly dog with lots of personality. In harness she is a great thinker and persistent about finding the goal. etc.  Walking near our home in the Monterey Bay area can be a challenge, so counting on my guide is essential. A 30 minute walk to an appointment now takes 20 because I can walk faster. It makes a huge difference in my life.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “When Guiding Eyes came out to interview me, they knew that I’d had guide dogs for almost 50 years. I felt like it was ok to be me. I liked the way I was treated.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life?  “When I was in an orchestra, we were playing Haydn’s Farewell Symphony. At the end, each player, one by one, blows out their candle and walks out. That I could get out quietly and walk off stage without hitting anything, had me on my knees hugging my guide dog and bawling. I was like everyone else. I took a break after my last guide and feel like I am getting ‘me’ back. I’m not so dependent now and feel more decisive. Lacy and I can do two to four mile walks. Lacy will make it much more enjoyable running around with my twin sister, who lives in San Francisco and also works a guide dog. This morning, we came back from errands, and she stopped at the stairs, then we went up and to my door. The day I don’t jump up and down and squeal with excitement at that, is the day I’ll hang up the harness.”  

Were there any training highlights?  “Everyone was so easy to talk to, from the educational component to the emotional component. I was told not to worry about my gait, ‘we’re going to have the dog work with you.’ I felt understood and respected. It was a very fun group and staff treated me like a self-reliant, independent person when it came to handling my diabetes. The kitchen staff were accommodating and cared about students’ needs and wants.  We could truly relax. Training’s focus was on reading us and helping us work with our dogs. The trainers did a good job of helping me understand Lacy, helping me read her. One on one time with Kat was very comfortable. It was a very good and comfortable experience.”

Meet Guide Dog Lacy

DOB:  8/5/2021
Litter ID: 2LL21
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Nell
Stud: Donny
Littermates: Laurel, Lash, Lyons, Lenny
Region:  Maine
Regional Puppy Instructor: Lisa Bumbalo
Puppy Raiser:  Larry & Janet Amberger
Facebook: Maine Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Lacy has always been a smart, confident pup, so she enjoys outings of all sorts, for example, shopping, voting, or riding the ferry for an island adventure. A particular strength was “go place” – she would stay on her mat throughout meal prep or recycling the dishwasher. Lacy shows an interest in watching TV, especially sporting events (she particularly liked Olympic speed skating!). She seems very much to want to please her people. Lacy enjoys connecting with humans and always gives enthusiastic greetings, especially greeting her people first thing in the morning. We wish the team mobility, health, companionship and happiness!  ~Janet & Larry Amberger, Puppy Raisers

Photos of the Team…