New Beginnings with Client Elaine Lubosch

By Megan Peterson

Published in: Update - Issue 1 - 2016 »   

Elaine Lubosch is an inspirational Leader Dogs for the Blind client. When her vision loss began to affect her work, she embraced the need for change head on, confidently moving in a new direction.

Elaine’s career began at a zoo in Roanoke, Virginia, working with a variety of exotic animals including tigers and snow leopards. She assisted with day-to-day care, surgical procedures and emergency care.

Elaine feeds a sea turtle at the Network for
Endangered Sea Turtles while LD Ivy Green
relaxes in a back room.

Born with retinopathy of prematurity, Elaine has been blind in her right eye since birth. But during her time at the zoo, the vision in her left eye slowly began to deteriorate as a result of retinal dystrophy and glaucoma. Elaine’s sight was vital to her safety when working with big animals as she needed to visually understand their cues. So it was time for her to consider another option. This led her to ultimately change her career path, but not her passion to work with animals. During this time, Elaine also decided it was time to get a guide dog.

Elaine now works at the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (N.E.S.T.) with her Leader Dog, Ivy Green, by her side. Since sea turtles are endangered, Elaine finds fulfillment in protecting the species and assisting the nests of new turtles in getting safely to the ocean. She even travels across the country to events and fairs to educate students and communities about sea turtles.

Elaine shares that since receiving Ivy Green she has been able to rediscover her identity, and is once again an outgoing and active person.

“Having a Leader Dog has changed my life,” Elaine said. “Often when I travel to larger events to educate people on sea turtles there are thousands of people, but the chaos doesn’t faze me because I have Ivy by my side.”

Elaine stands in front of an aquarium wall with fish swimming in the background. She is talking to a group of people standing off to one side. Leader Dog Ivy lies near Elaine's feet

Elaine explains to visitors the correct way to care
for sea turtles.

At a recent event, she was lost and couldn’t find her husband, who was also at the event, because he wasn’t answering his phone. “I told Ivy to ‘Find Kenny’ and after about 10 minutes she was able to locate him,” she said. “There’s no way I would have safely found him without her.”

Elaine is again experiencing a new ‘life direction’—she is expecting her first child. She notes that Ivy has slowed down her speed to accommodate Elaine’s pace—and has been a great help in going to all of her doctor appointments.

“Ivy is my greatest companion and my biggest helper,” Elaine said. “I think she’ll be able to help me keep up with my new baby girl once she arrives. I’ll be able to take my daughter to the playground and know that Ivy is keeping an eye on her.”

Elaine certainly leads by example when it comes to embracing the new directions that life presents. Elaine, we wish you many congratulations on your soon-to-be bundle of joy.