During his sophomore year of college, GuiAlix decided it was time to apply for a Leader Dog. He first needed to strengthen his orientation and mobility skills, so he flew to Michigan for our week-long, accelerated white cane travel training. Shortly after he returned home, he was ready to train with a Leader Dog.
Gui is studying to be a veterinary technician and could not return to Michigan in the middle of a semester for 25 days of guide dog training. Fortunately, we were holding a two-week-long training session in Naples, Florida – right in Gui’s backyard – in February. This is where Gui trained with Leader Dog Emma, whom he describes as his “guardian angel.”
“Emma has changed every aspect of my life,” Gui says. “She looks out for me and I don’t ever have to worry about my blind spots.”
He continues: “Emma keeps up with me. When she sees I’m not doing anything, she just hangs out, but when I grab her harness, she’s ready to go.”
Even though people are always watching Gui and his adorable Labrador retriever Emma when they are on the train or walking around campus, when she is in her harness, Emma is completely disengaged from other people.
“She really moves through a crowd when it’s necessary, and she is good at chilling out, too,” Gui says. “Emma enjoys when I play piano. I’ll go to the piano and she sits under my seat and will veg out until I’m done.”
Gui and Emma were able to stay home and ride out Hurricane Irma this past September. He said the hardest thing for Emma was the heat. For nine days, they had no air conditioning! To cope, they spent more time outside, using fallen trees and branches as an opportunity to practice avoiding obstacles.
Gui said that his ultimate goal is to be a veterinarian. Since Emma will be right there with him attending every class, she might just get DVM after her name, too!