2015 National Service Animal Eye Exam

Junebug receiving her 2015 National Service Dog Eye Exam.

Junebug receiving her 2015 National Service Animal Eye Exam.

I am extra waggy happy this morning. Yesterday I had my annual ACVO 2015 National Service Animal Eye Exam and was told that my eyes are looking perfectly healthy, wags wags wags!

My eyes are vital to my successful work as a guide dog for the blind who proudly guides my mom. On our ride over to the appointment, my mom was shaking her foot fast. I pick up on her energy really well. I knew she was feeling nervous and in knowing so, I softly rested my head on her lap. Although my mom felt like I would be given a good report, this was not a 100 % guarantee. That unknown was scary for her. A flood of relief came once we heard, “Your eyes look beautiful,” from the Veterinarian Ophthalmologist. Those words couldn’t have been more welcoming to our ears.

Here is a video collage of my eye exam. My mom said she was so very proud of me. I stayed still for the exam, except for the couple of times I turned my head and gave the assistant a few big Bug kisses. I couldn’t resist!

The ACVO National Service Animal Eye Exam event is a philanthropic effort generously provided to the public by the board certified Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists who donate their time, staff and services to provide free screening ocular exams to qualified Service Animals.

This program would not be successful without the generosity of our Diplomates and the financial support of all our valuable sponsors. 

Over 38,000 Service Animals have received these free screening exams over the past seven years. Please participate, support our ophthalmologists and sponsors to ensure this program continues in 2016 and beyond.”

– Stacee Daniel, ACVO Executive Director

Junebug (left) and her BFF Jules (right) get a Strawberry and Cream dog treat.

Junebug (left) and her BFF Jules (right)  being given a Strawberry and Cream dog treat.

After my eye exam my mom treated Jules, my BFF aka best fur friend furever, and I to a delicious Strawberry and Cream dog treat. This was a treat she had picked up from the local dog bakery. The taste of the smooth strawberry and carob dipped treat delighted my taste buds.

My mom and I are profoundly grateful that my eyes are healthy. We are both very thankful to the ACVO, the Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, and sponsors who help make such an important event happen.

❤ Wags,

Junebug

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TO THE MARKET

Jane and Margeaux

Jane Mosbacher Morris, Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET (left) with Margeaux Gray and Junebug. | Photo credit: Chelsea Hudson Photography

Margeaux Gray, my mom, survived a traumatic childhood. However, she has not let the trauma define her. Today she is passionate about advocating against the injustice that was done to her. She has come upon many obstacles such as living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and blindness, but sees these simply as hurdles. They may have slowed her down a bit, but she has not let them stop her. She has found a way around. My mom is an advocate, motivational speaker, and artist. Through her voice and art she is educating, empowering, and working to create the change she envisions for the world.

Part of my job as my mom’s guide dog is to guide her to all of her advocacy and speaking engagements. Last Friday I flew with my mom to Washington D.C. The weather was beautiful. The warm blanket of sunshine rested on my fur as I guided her from our hotel to speak at TO THE MARKET‘s “Sip, Shop, and Be Inspired” pop-up event.

TO THE MARKET | Survivor-Made Goods | Photo credit: Chelsea Hudson Photography

TTM2 TO THE MARKET | Survivor-Made Goods | Photo credit: Chelsea Hudson Photography

TO THE MARKET, founded by Jane Mosbacher Morris (CEO), is a retailer that sales survivor-made goods crafted by artisans who have lived through abuse, conflict, and disease. Their mission, “combines the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations, in the belief that resilience is more powerful than suffering.” I definitely recommend that you check the online store out.

My mom is on TO THE MARKET‘s advisory board and I supposed that means by proxy I am as well. Personally, if you ask me, I think I can offer some pretty dog gone good advice. 😉

I am proud of the work my mom is doing. We are a team and I love being her guide dog as well as a co-advocate on her mission to make a difference.

At the event my mom spoke about action and freedom.

Two things my mom stressed in her speech was:

“With thoughtful action, we can all make a difference.”

“Freedom is not black and white. It is a kaleidoscope of different colors, shapes, and sizes.”

The big laugh of the night came when mom was trying on shoes which were being sold at TO THE MARKET‘s pop-up shop. After trying on a few pairs, she went to put back on the shoes she came to the event wearing. Something wasn’t feeling right. After a minute of trying to find her right shoe, she suddenly realized the problem. My mom had worn two different shoes and they were both lefts! How funny is that? Needless to say, we all had a good laugh.

Sometimes, my mom’s blind girl problems ultimately work out in her favor. The Root Collective was their selling shoes and mom left with a beautiful pair Dusty Cayenne Diamond ballet flats.

On our flight home my mom was reflecting on her gratitude for independence. I was comfortably resting my head on her shoes. She told me she loved me and thanked me for giving her another whole level of freedom. She said that liberty can even come in the form of a 62 pound yellow Labrador guide dog named Junebug.

Junebug

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International Guide Dog Day

Junebug and Margeaux. Margeaux has her arm around Junebug, who is in harness, and is giving her a kiss.

Junebug and Margeaux. Margeaux has her arm around Junebug, who is in harness, and is giving her a kiss.

Turn up the music and let’s celebrate. Today is International Guide Dog Day!

When I was growing up and being raised by my guide dog puppy raisers, I had no idea just how cool being a guide dog really would be. Now that I am one, I can tell you that it’s a PAWesome job.

Check out this video of some guide dog awesomeness in action. My mom recorded this back in 2013. It’s really cool she wanted to record an example of my work, and she sure got to. What this video captures is an example of one of the many things I was trained to do at Guide Dogs for the Blind, my alumni. I was taught to slow down, come to a stop, and slightly angle my body in front of my mom’s legs. This is to alert my mom that there is an object in our way.

Pretty PAWesome isn’t it?

Junebug and Fee-Fi-Fo-Frog, her stuffed frong toy.

Junebug and Fee-Fi-Fo-Frog, her stuffed frog toy.

In past posts I have shared about the importance of balancing work with play. It’s very important, because a guide dog’s work can be intense. When I’m off-duty I enjoy playing with all my toys. I recently acquired a new squeaky toy that I’ve been playing keep away with. I will be honest; I’m really good at this game and my mom, not so much. I win just about every time and shh… don’t tell her, sometimes I let her win. 😛

This is another glimpse into my many adventures as a guide dog.

Junebug, in harness, wearing a pink and sparkly cowgirl hat.

Junebug, in harness, wearing a pink and sparkly cowgirl hat.

I’d like to tip my cowgirl hat to all the PAWesome guide dogs and their parents out there (like my mom and me, wags!) pups in training, retired, and to all who’ve passed. Also, a huge woof-out to everyone from guide dog puppy raisers, donors, trainers, vets, kennel staff, volunteers, and etc. who help a guide dog on the path to her or his career. Thank you for all you do. And guide dogs, thank you for your service.

❤ Wags,

Junebug

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Junebug Saves the Day!

Junebug sitting in front of the elevator.

This Bug would like to interrupt your regularly scheduled program for an important announcement.

I saved mom from being squashed by elevator doors.

Happy tail wags!

Here is what happened. This morning I guided mom on an errand. We were waiting for the elevator. Mom heard the sound signaling that it had arrived.

At the same time my mom was on her mobile phone. Tisk tisk tisk! 😉 Mom knows better than to do this and normally she never does. It’s kind of comparative to texting while driving not being safe.

My mom is partially blind. Sometimes she stubbornly thinks she can rely on the clear peripheral sight she has.

Well, I think she has learned her lesson.

So, mom was calling to let our transportation know we were ready to go home. She wasn’t paying too much attention to the sounds around her.

Guess who was paying attention?

Me, thankfully!

Mom, gave me the command to go “inside.” I started guiding her in. We were crossing the elevator threshold when I saw that it wasn’t safe to continue.

The doors started to close.

I came to a sudden stop and quickly backed us up.

My mom hung up the phone when she realized what I had just done for her. She was so proud of me. She gave me lots of praise and a yummy treat.

I couldn’t stop wagging my tail.

Guide dogs for the blind do so many things for their partners. What I did today is one prime example.

Here is a video that my mom recorded of me after I had already saved her from the elevator doors. She wanted to recreate the situation to demonstrate to all of you what I did. You’ll notice in this video that I also know how to find her the elevator button. You’ll also notice that once again mom didn’t quite realize the doors were closing, but I did. Listen to her voice. She about told me “Junebug, inside” again, but stops as she realizes the doors are closing.

Am I a rock-star or what?

These are all things I learned at my alumni, Guide Dogs for the Blind.

I love my job!

Cheers to you and woofing all of you a very happy and healthy weekend! 

 ❤ Wags, 

 Junebug 

Ps. I’m have on my harness and pawesome RUFFWEAR booties. I wear the booties to protect my precious paws (in the winter from the salt used when it snows and in the summer from the hot pavement). I also have on my hot pink coat and a pink and grey knitted flower on my collar

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Junebug, the Guide Dog and the Snow

Junebug in harness, standing in the snow.

Have you ever wondered what it looks like when a guide dog works in the snow?

Here’s a video of me yesterday, guiding my mom safely on the snowy sidewalk to her transportation. The video is filmed from mom’s perspective looking down at me.I’m sporting my hot pink winter jacket and am wearing booties.

Aren’t I doing good at work?

You’ll notice that I come to a stop once we get to the intersecting sidewalks. I then wait for mom to tell me which way to go. Yeah, unfortunately guide dogs are not a GPS.

Where we go depends upon the commands our handlers give us (i.e. Junebug left, Junebug right, Junebug halt). It’s a step by step process and the two have to work together. This is why they call a guide dog and their handler a team.

It’s pretty neat, don’t you think?

I love my job and think my mom and I are a PAWesome team!

Junebug standing in the snow with her toy is next to her.

Remember me mentioning in previous blog posts/videos about the importance of balancing guide dog work with play time? Once we got home from mom’s appointment, she took me outside to play in the snow.

It was fun, well sort of. I was raised by two fantastic puppy raisers in Southern California. I definitely prefer the warm sunshine and playing in the Pacific Ocean than the snow, by far any day.

Tomorrow we are supposed to get sub zero temperatures. Brrrr, that’s too cold. It looks like I’ll be California dreaming.

❤ Wags,
Junebug

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Dog Day Anniversary 2015

Junebug sitting up in front of her mom who is sitting on a chair.

It was Dog Day at Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) four years ago from today. It was the day my mom and I first met.

I remember the moment if it were yesterday.

It was February 16, 2011. My GDB trainer brought me to meet my mom in her campus dorm room. She handed my leash (which was attached to my collar) over to my mom who then began crying happy tears.

It was the beginning of our partnership.

This is the first photo (and the prelude of a bazillion more) 🙂 taken of the two of us. I am her first guide dog. In this photo I am a few months shy of two years old.

❤ Wags,
Junebug

*Note: Dog Day is a day filled with emotions. It is a special day for any handler. It is the day a guide dog first meets their blind/visually impaired partner. Although the guide dog is fully trained, the first time handler is not. At GDB, the two spend several more weeks at the school in class training together. Generally returning handlers getting a new guide dog spend slightly less time.

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Throwback Thursday: Blind Conference, FL

Pascal (black Lab to the far left) and Rica (tiny black Lab to the far right). I’m the yellow Lab in the middle.

Throwback to July 2011. I was two years old and it was just four months into my career as a working guide dog for the blind.

My mom and I had attended a blind conference in Florida.

It was there that I guided mom around thousands of blind people and their white canes. What a challenge! Do you think you could do it if you were a dog? Well, I had a bit of training from my raisers and Guide Dogs for the Blind, so that certainly helped.

It was indeed a challenge, but one that I aced with PAWride!

I met many other working guides there as well including the three featured in the photos here: Pascal (black Lab), Rica (tiny black Lab), and Bambi (now a retired Guiding Eyes for the Blind black Lab).

Guide dogs Pascal (black lab), Rica (black Lab), Bambi (black Lab) and me PAWrtying in the hotel room.

It was so much fun because in the evenings after work we had play dates together. We got to be off harness in the hotel room and and act like the young pups we were. We behaved, but sure had a PAWrty!

Such a fond memory.

💗 Wags,
Junebug

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