Two of the dogs in this photo are guide dogs. Mimosa, the black lab, just retired after a decade of service. Fodi, the yellow lab, recently graduated from the training program at Guide Dogs for the Blind and will be the new guide dog for Sue. What makes it really fun for me is that these are my next door neighbors! I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the family and their amazing dogs over the years. In case you were wondering, Izzy the doodle is the family pet and her job is to look cute and roughhouse with Fodi when he’s not working.
Not only do I remember when Mimosa first came home as a 2-year-old but I documented the occasion with a family photo. Back in 2011, they had Pat the retired guide dog, Rainey the longtime family pet and Mimosa. When I heard that there would be another “changing of the guard,” I knew we had to recreate the original family photo.
Interesting things I’ve learned about guide dogs over the years:
- Don’t pet a guide dog when they have their harness on because they’re working. However, when their harness comes off at home, they are like any dog. They need time off to relax and just be a dog. When she was young, Mimosa was a little rambunctious when she wasn’t working and often ran over to my front porch to see if my yellow lab was there. Now that she’s older, Mimosa especially likes having her belly rubbed.
- A retired guide dog needs time to adjust to retirement before the new dog comes home. Mimosa stopped working a few months before Fodi arrived so she could get used to staying at home and so she wouldn’t get confused or jealous when Fodi wore the harness. The bummer was that without her guide dog, Sue had to use a cane for a few months. Luckily, she found that people were extra kind in helping her navigate without her guide dog.
- To get a new guide dog, Sue traveled to the Guide Dogs for the Blind center in San Rafael, California for a few weeks. This was a really big deal because she was away from her family and had to put her business on vacation mode. Until she got to California, she didn’t even know what kind of dog she’d get or what their name would be. Fodi is Sue’s 4th guide dog. He’s an 18-month-old lab/golden retriever mix.
- Random fact: Male guide dogs are trained to pee like female dogs. In other words, they don’t lift their leg up when they pee. I’m going to let you speculate why this might be…
- Considerate neighbor tip: Keep your trees and shrubs trimmed so there are no branches near sidewalks. A dog can’t warn a person that a tree branch is about to smack them in the head.
- If you want to learn more about how guide dogs are trained, there’s a documentary about Guide Dogs for the Blind called Pick of the Litter. Of course, they tried to make it dramatic – like reality TV – but Sue said it is fairly accurate. I’ve personally been so impressed by how well-bred all Sue’s dogs have been. Their temperaments and overall health are absolutely incredible! I’m really looking forward to getting to know Fodi over the years.
This is Mimosa hard at work in 2011. She helped Sue navigate the bus to work, exercise classes, grocery, etc. Now that Mimosa is retired, she’ll live with her family as a non-working, cherished house pet for the rest of her life. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for sweet Mimosa!