Alum Spotlight

My First Adventures with Lacey

Published in: Update - Issue 1 - 2012 »     Listen to Article ♫

"I just love how mellow and
easygoing Lacey is about everything
as well as being playful and
affectionate (and sometimes very silly).
We're a great personality/lifestyle match."

"I will shamelessly admit that I do love bragging about my wonderful little Labrador."

Since first coming to Leader Dog in May of 2011, Maria Kristic quickly realized that getting a guide dog was one of the best decisions of her life. Maria loves to share stories of some of the adventures they have already conquered together.

In NYC

Lacey and I were at a subway station in New York City not too long ago. It had been quite some time since I'd taken a subway, and it was my first time doing so with Lacey. At one point we encountered a rotating turnstile, something we hadn't been exposed to during training. At first Lacey was a little uneasy about going through it, but after a little encouragement, she decided to be a brave girl and we worked our way through it without a hitch.

I'd forgotten how loud subway stations are and at one point got disoriented and failed to notice the cautionary tactile strip under my feet. I told Lacey repeatedly to go forward, but she flatly refused my command. When I finally used my foot to find out why she wouldn't move, I realized we were at the edge of the subway platform! It took the intelligent disobedience of my wonderful Lacey to make me realize our situation. She definitely saved my life that day.

On Campus

"With Lacey as my travel partner, I've been
more apt to step out of my comfort zone to
explore unfamiliar places by myself. Having
the GPS really increases that inclination."

We recently visited the college where I had done my under-graduate studies, and Lacey really shined! In just a few days she learned the route from my room to the food court in another building so well that I didn't have to give her any directional support! All I had to do was to tell her where I wanted to go. I was amazed at how well patterning worked!

The food court itself has a confusing layout and I never felt comfortable going there on my own during the four years that I studied at the school; I usually asked someone to accompany me. However, Lacey quickly learned how to take me to the food station counters and then to the door of the building after I'd eaten. I know that it sounds very trivial, but it felt great to finally navigate that place independently and with confidence!

Based on how well she did on that campus, I know that we'll do great together when I begin graduate school.

*Patterning happens when a dog repeats a route often enough that their human partner tells them where to go, such as "go to the food court," and the dog can get there without further directional support.