Thursday, July 19, 2012

One of the Greatest Guide Dog Retirement Jobs Ever!

Rebekah and her Guide Dog Leslie

By Rebekah Brod 

Leslie was my first Guide Dog who gave me the freedom of moving safely, gracefully, and quickly in my environment without the stress that accompanies vision loss. Leslie had an incredible sense of adventure. When we traveled abroad, her guidework was perfect, never missing a beat. We had an incredible partnership for nine and a half years.

Rebekah with Leslie and Duke
When I came home with my second Guide Dog, Duke, it was a difficult transition for all of us. Leslie would run to the door with Duke to try to get into the harness. It was hard leaving her at home. I needed to find her something to do because she still wanted to be working in some capacity. I found her the ideal job at Santa Monica College (SMC). My husband, Garry, who was Leslie's driver, said, "Leslie was as excited as a puppy with a new toy when we went to SMC."

Leslie with Rebekah and Garry in the carAs soon as the automatic sliding glass door opened, Leslie was there to greet each student as they entered the SMC Center for Students with Disabilities office. Her job was to provide comfort and support in exchange for love, hugs, kisses, and treats. During crisis situations Leslie worked wonders by having a calming effect on both students and staff.

After working a year at SMC Leslie struggled with glaucoma, resulting in surgery and the loss of her right eye. The students related to her in a new way, by identifying with her disability and observing that it did not effect her job in any way. She will be greatly missed. October 14, 1997—May 24, 2012

Thank you so much for the greatest gift in my life, my Guide Dog Leslie. I am so grateful to Guide Dogs for the Blind for their dedication to excellence.

See the SMC Center for Students with Disabilities tribute video to Leslie here:

SMC Center for Students with Disabilities Staff with Leslie

SMC Center for Students with Disabilities Photo (Above)

  • Front row, left to right: Jo An Joseph-Peters, Nathalie Laille, Kennisha Green, Leslie, MaryJane Weil, Judy Schwartz, Colin O’Brien
  • Second Row, left to right: Andrea Kremer, Ingrid Carlson, Steven Zucker, Elena Throckmorten, Georgia Farber, Billie Puyear, Lisette Rabinow-Palley, Lynn Fugua
  • Not shown: Ellen Cutler, Tom Peters, & Ava Gawranski

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