18 May

Sabine Laubental has always been a dog lover, and as her vision started to deteriorate, the idea came naturally to apply for a dog with the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind is a national charitable organization that provides Canadian-bred and professionally trained guide dogs to Canadians who qualify, changing the lives of individuals by improving their safety, freedom, and independence.

“In our 37 years, we have created over 900 successful guide dog teams!” says Alex Ivic, Manager of Development.

Sabine, a Victoria, BC resident, shared her experience in having a guide dog: the companionship, and the many benefits that have improved her quality of life.

“I had always seen myself as getting a guide dog in the future. Over the years, I recognized that it was time to start making an application for a dog. I knew it would probably take quite a long time to get a dog once I had applied, but they called me within two weeks with a dog. I was pretty lucky and pretty excited.”

Sabine and her dog, Stella, a yellow Labrador crossed with a golden retriever, have become inseparable. It was a natural fit right from the beginning of the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind program.

“When I went to the school (in Ontario), I was the only student due to COVID. Percy worked one-on-one with me for the 10 days that I was there. We would go out into the community on busy sidewalks. We went on transportation, like buses and trains, and down escalators and then to elevators and all the different environments that I might encounter when I’m out walking Stella.”

One of the school’s objectives is to match the dog according to the client’s personality and temperament.

“They really did an excellent job matching our personalities,” says Sabine. “You put the harness on her and she’s ready to go to work. And then when the harness comes off, she’s just a dog. A wonderful dog.”

Stella has helped Sabine maintain her independence and provides safety in the daily activities of life – from grocery shopping to errands. Around dinner time, Stella likes to put her head on Sabine’s lap.

When it comes to achieving plenty of exercise, they get an hour or more daily, along with Stella playing in the yard.

Upon graduating from the program in September 2020, Sabine and Stella have become a strong team in learning how to work together and develop a pace that suits them.