Wagging 9 to 5

Valentine stumbles out of bed and tumbles to the kitchen…she yawns and stretches as she – like so many others – prepares to once again head to work after a year away from the office.

Valentine is one of many guide dogs who are adapting back to their pre-pandemic routines. As their owners spent more time at home, guide dogs were similarly idle. They no longer had the daily responsibilities of assisting their owners on their commutes or helping them to navigate a public work environment.

turner, gaston, and valentine sit together outside in the dog run
Turner, Gaston and Valentine are among The Lighthouse’s working dogs.

Keianna, an agent in The Chicago Lighthouse’s UI Health Call Center, and Valentine recently returned to the office after working remotely for ten months.  When stay-at-home orders were enforced last March, they were just seven weeks into their working relationship. This sudden change could have been detrimental to Valentine’s training had Keianna not reminded the dog that she has a job. Whenever she had the chance, Keianna took Valentine on walks in her harness. She kept up her obedience routine, using commands including “stay,” “come,” and “sit” on a daily basis. Puzzle games helped to keep Valentine’s mind stimulated.

Upon returning to the office, it took some time to re-adjust to their early morning schedule. “With a guide dog, you always have to give yourself an extra 15 minutes because they need a brushing, just like you need to brush your hair. You both want to be looking and smelling good!” says Keianna.

Valentine, like Keianna, is thrilled to be reunited with her human and guide dog friends back at The Lighthouse. “She dives through the door every day and has so much more energy,” says Keianna. “It also doesn’t hurt that she’s such a sweetheart and that everyone here loves her back.”

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