Margeaux and Junebug, A Team!

Graduation photo of Margeaux and guide dog Junebug. Guide Dogs for the Blind, March 5, 2011.

Today is a VERY special day. It was four years ago that my mom and I graduated as team from Guide Dogs for the Blind. Cheers! I got a Bug idea that it would be great day for my mom to write a guest blog post.
Enjoy!
❤ Wags,
Junebug
__
 
One day  in my mid twenties I went to check the TV Guide channel, but discovered I couldn’t read it. It was very blurry. Long story short. After seeing different eye doctors and then a specialist, I was diagnosed with bilateral optic neuropathy. It caused my central vision to become impaired.
 
I grieved.
 
I was ignorant as to what the visually impaired could do.
 
Thankfully, I got connected with a rehabilitation center for the blind. I learned to read Braille and was trained in Orientation and Mobility (O&M). I was taught how to use a white cane and navigate the world with low eyesight.
 
I became educated. I befriended lots of different blind and visually impaired people. They became my mentors.
 
I won’t lie, loosing my eyesight was a difficult adjustment. Slowly but surely I adjusted. I became proficient at O&M and my confidence grew.
 
Then one day I started entertaining the idea of getting a guide dog. I did my research and talked with a lot of my friends who were guide dog users. I prayed, slept on it, and listened to my heart. 
 
I was ready!
 
I applied to Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). After several phone interviews and a home visit, I got the call that I was accepted.
 
Approximately six months later on Valentine’s Day 2011, I flew out to Guide Dogs San Rafael, CA campus. Three days after arriving it was Dog Day at GDB. This is the day that guide dogs and their partners first meet. It’s a day filled with emotion. I was patiently waiting in my dorm room when I heard the door slowly open. In came a beautiful female yellow Labrador Retriever named Junebug. Her trainer, handed the leash over to me. 
 
I couldn’t help it. I broke down and started crying happy tears.

Junebug guiding Margeaux in downtown San Rafael, CA 2011.

We trained together for three weeks. Junebug came trained, but there were a lot of important things I had to learn as a first time guide dog handler. 

 
Four years ago, on Saturday March 5, 2011, Junebug and I graduated as a team from GDB (see video). At the graduation ceremony I met the couple who raised Junebug. It is a selfless act of kindness what they did and all puppy raisers do. Four years later I keep in regular communication with her raisers. Junebug and I have even visited them twice. They have become like family to me.
 
Mine and Junebug’s journey officially began the day we graduated from Guide Dogs. 
 
Since graduating, Junebug has saved me more than  once from being hit by a car. One time she even saved me from being hit, by of all things, an ambulance. It had not yet turned on its siren. She heard the vehicle coming up from below a parking garage, but I did not. Junebug did just as Guide Dogs for the Blind taught her to do. She stopped guiding me forward and quickly backed me up. Exactly at that time was when the ambulance turned on its siren. It happened so fast. I’ll never forget that day. 
 
Little things can be big. It’s all about perspective. Junebug will find me an empty seat in a crowded waiting room. She can also find me the buttons you push when wanting to cross the street. These little things are huge to me.
 
I’ll never be able to repay her for all she does for me. I do my best to reward her with lots of love, toys, and surprise treats. Her favorite treat is frozen banana and all natural peanut butter.

Top photo: Junebug (right) and Jules (left) in harness. Bottom photo: Junebug (right) and Jules (left) lying down next to one another smiling.

It’s not all work for Junebug. I find it very important to balance work with play time. She has three toy boxes that just keep growing fuller. Her favorite game to play is tug and fetch. She has many other guide dog friends. Her best fur friend is Jules. He is a  male Lab/Golden cross and also is a working guide dog. The two have regular play dates. Just for fun, I’ve taught Junebug twenty-nine neat tricks and counting. She can sure put on a show!

 
Junebug’s name fits perfect with her personality. She is bubbly and outgoing. She loves life and loves attention (when not in harness, of course). She is very compassionate and empathetic.
 
I’m beyond blessed to have her.

Junebug confidently guiding Margeaux down a local city sidewalk.

Today, I am an advocate, motivational speaker, and artist. I realize I may have partially lost my sight, but I have not lost my vision.
 
My mission is to educate, empower, and motivate others.
 
I can’t thank GDB, Junebug’s raisers, her trainer, donors, and all those involved in helping her to become the guide dog she is today.
 
A guide dog puppy named Junebug was raised and my life was PAWsitively changed.
 
Warmly,
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Learn more about Junebug’s alumni, Guide Dogs for the Blind.

 

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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Junebug Stops at the Grocery

Junebug guiding Margeaux down the grocery store isle. | © 2015

My friends, the other day, at the Trader Joe’s (grocery), I prevented a mass collision of all kinds of dramatic sorts.

Let me explain.

Junebug, stopping for the grocery carts. | © 2015

This past Sunday morning I was guiding my mom into the store. At the same time, a clerk was pushing in a line of stacked back-to-back carts. My mom was oblivious to them. I however, was not. I remembered my training from Guide Dogs for the Blind. I came to a sudden stop when I concluded there would not be enough time for me to guide my mom further forward without us being run down.

My coming to a sudden stop was a que to my mom that we had an obstacle of some kind in our way. She saw with her peripheral vision (her central vision is impaired) a red line and heard the sound of the carts. Mom realized what I had just done for her— that this Bug came to her rescue once again, wags.

The clerk stopped at the same time I did. He was thoroughly impressed with my guide dog skills.

Are you impressed, too?

Junebug guiding Margeaux at the grocery store. | © 2015

After that, I went on to guide my mom to shop for her groceries. We were shopping with a store clerk. My moms visual impairment prevents her from being able to see to read print. I do a lot of things for my mom, but I leave the reading up to her human  assistants. I guided  mom to the stores customer service desk where she requested help shopping. The clerk helped her by reading to her the prices of items, ingredients, and etc.

I listened to my mom as I guided her through the store and she gave me directions to “follow,” “Junebug, left,” and “Junebug, right.” I guided her around poles and other peoples carts. The cool thing is with me as her transportation, unless she sees these things in her peripheral vision, she doesn’t even know they are there. You got it, I guide her right around them. Safely, of course. How cool is that? My mom says it makes for a smooth ride, wags.

My favorite isle at the grocery, paws down, is the dog food/treat/toy isle. I always make a premeditated effort to take a trip down this section.

Lastly I guided my mom to the checkout counter. She used her knowledge of the stores layout and her ears to direct me to the general area. She then gave me the command to “find the checkout.” And, I found it for her, wags!

My mom said she is so grateful and thankful for the extra independence having me as her guide gives her.

This Bug has skills. If I’m guiding and it’s not safe to continue, I’ll stop in the name of love. Admittedly, part of that might be a little self-preservation. 😉

When we got home, mom put up the groceries and proceeded to give me a great big tummy rub. They are the BEST, ever. While she was rubbing my tummy, I couldn’t keep my tail from wagging (see video). I was a proud Bug.

Junebug holds her new stuffing free bunny toy in her mouth.| © 2015

Oh oh oh, and guess what? That evening, my mom bought me a new toy. She bought me a stuffing free bunny rabbit. It’s soft, crinkly, and squeaks. I LOVE it!

Here’s the truth. The truth is, I love my mom. We are one PAWsome team. I love doing a good job and I am proud to be a guide dog for the blind.

Wags,
Junebug

* Note from my mom, Margeaux: Thank you for following my guide dog, Junebug’s adventures. I am an advocate, motivational speaker and artist. I also happen to be partially blind/visually impaired. Please feel free to visit my site margeauxgray.com  If interested in contacting me and or booking me (and Junebug of course, too!) for your event, please click here and fill out the contact form. I will reply to your email in which I’ll attach a speakers request form and an honorarium and travel guidelines document.

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Junebug and the Little Red Tricycle

The little red tricycle by it’s self on the side walk. A second photo of Junebug sitting and posing beside it. © 2014

Happy New Year my friends! Yesterday was a beautiful (albeit cold) winter day here in Kentucky. The sun was shining which always makes me extra waggly. It was a cool 25° F (feels like 19° F) which is about -4º C (feels like -7º C) outside. The frigid weather did not keep me from working.

Yesterday morning I guided mom to an appointment. After that, I guided her on a walk. I had the good fast pace that she likes going and then I came to an abrupt stop. I was telling her to explore because there was an obstacle on the sidewalk. You know what I did? I kept her from walking into or tripping over a child’s tricycle (see photo), wags. I was so very proud of myself and mom was so very proud of me. She praised me and gave me kisses on my forehead. You see that’s something she quite possibly could trip and hurt herself over — that is however, if she did not have me or was walking without a white cane or assistance. I was trained by my alumni, Guide Dogs for the Blind how to handle situations like that one. I was trained how to alert my handler (my mom) when an obstacle on our path is in the way. After mom finished praising me, she had a light bulb moment — she thought what a great opportunity it would be to record such an encounter and to share with all of you. She thought it would be an educational moment, to give you a little glimpse into what a Guide Dog like myself can do for the blind and visually impaired. Then she realized, it was also a great reminder to be appreciative of what we may perceive as “the little things in life.” Are they really small? For my mom, what some may see as a little red tricycle on the sidewalk is a reminder of how grateful and blessed she is to have me as her Guide Dog. For  her I am a freedom. So, do you know what she did? She made a video! She had me back up and rework the scene as she recorded it on her phone. And, then I came home and wrote this blog post. How PAWesome is that?

Junebug enjoying her Kong Extreme toy filled with a few pieces of frozen banana and peanut butter. © 2014

Junebog and her Kong  ExtremeJunebog and her Kong  ExtremeTrader Joe's Peanut Butter Junebug enjoying her Kong Extreme toy filled with a few pieces of frozen banana and Trader Joe’s unsalted peanut butter. © 2014

You know what also is PAWesome? When I guided her back home, she rewarded me with a woofderful Kong Company Extreme toy filled with a few pieces of frozen banana and Trader Joe’s creamy unsalted peanut butter (from unbleached peanuts). Wags wags wags, it was so delicious. Mom said it was also well deserved. She said I’ve done another whole year of doing an excellent job of guiding her. She handed me the Kong Extreme filled treat and said, “Cheers, to you Junebug!”

Alright, are you ready to watch the video? Don’t be disappointed if you’re blind or visually impaired. Mom made a point to describe what was happening. If you are hearing impaired, there are subtitles. So, without further ado, I present to you my first video published on my new YouTube channel:

Enjoy and let me know what you think. If you like what you see, keep following my blog and invite your family and friends to do so as well. I’m a social Bug — so be sure to follow me on social media. Have a Happy New Year!

Wags,

Junebug

* Note from my mom, Margeaux: Thank you for watching this video. I am an advocate, motivational speaker and artist. I also happen to be partially blind/visually impaired. Please feel free to visit my site margeauxgray.com. If interested in contacting me and or booking me (and Junebug of course, too!) for your event, please click here and fill out the contact form.

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Welcome!

Junebug guiding her mom on a spring day.  © 2014

Welcome my friends to my website and blog, Junebug | A Guide Dog’s Adventures. I appreciate your interest in me and my Guide Dog work. I love my job as a working Guide Dog for the Blind. I’ll be six years old in May 2015. I’ve safely been guiding my mom, who is partially blind, since 2011. She is an advocate, motivational speaker, and artist. Please feel free to visit her site, margeauxgray.com. Together we are a team and are creating the change we wish to see in the world. I work hard, but I also play hard. It’s very important to balance work with play (whether you’re a Guide Dog or not). I am very happy to have the opportunity to share with you some of my adventures. Please be sure share my page, tell your family and friends about it,  and follow and me on social media. What can I say, I’m a social Bug, wags! If you’re interested in booking my mom and I at an event, please click here and fill out the contact form.

Thank you and have a woofderful day, wags!

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