When Jennie, a black Labrador-Retriever cross, was being raised by Lorraine Rempel, she went everywhere – movies, plays, the gym and book club. Whether it was going to the store or attending university classes with Lorraine's daughter, Jennie loved getting out and about.
Being exposed to so many different environments and situations has helped Jennie with her training to become a CNIB Guide Dog.
In May 2019, 10-week-old Jennie arrived at Lorraine’s home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she spent the next year learning basic skills, obedience commands and feeding routines.
“We were just in love with this little bundle of black fur when she arrived. We felt so lucky to be the ones to get to raise her and prepare her for the next stage of training,” says Lorraine.
Jennie has a lot of personality. She is a sweet, affectionate and playful dog – she loved to play hide-and-seek with Lorraine’s family during the pandemic.
“Jennie loved starting every morning with a cuddle,” says Lorraine. “She would wait for me to wake up to sit on the floor with her so she could rest her head on my shoulder – I miss those morning hugs!”
Due to travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, Lorraine was fortunate to have some extra time with Jennie, but when it was time to say goodbye, tears were still shed.
“By the time Jennie was leaving, I knew she had mastered all the obedience and socialization skills we could teach her while in the puppy raising stage – she thrives when she's engaged and was ready for a new challenge,” says Lorraine. “I know she will not only be a great guide dog to someone with sight loss, but also an incredible companion.”
Lorraine had the opportunity to visit Jennie and follow along on a training session with her guide dog mobility instructor at the Canine Campus.
“I watched Jennie locate the walk button at a crosswalk and I felt like a very proud mom, seeing her grow into such a mature dog and clearly enjoying the guiding role as her tail was wagging the entire time,” says Lorraine. “I knew Jennie was ready to take it to the next level, and to see her fulfilling her potential was so rewarding – I can’t wait to find out what she does next.”
Jennie was matched with a guide dog handler in March. They have successfully qualified as a guide dog team and will be graduating as part of CNIB Guide Dogs’ class of 2021 in April.