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Fabulous, Fantastic, Friendly Freckles

We have profiled a number of our students and last week you met one of our certified trainers, so this week we thought you might like to meet one of our guide dogs.

Freckles was born in April 2008 along with five brothers and three sisters to proud parents Ashley and Norm. Right from the start, Freckles was different. Her adorable face was spotted unlike any other goldador, so her name was completely apropos.

Freckles was raised by a pre-vet student at the University of Florida and attended many classes with her raiser, something that would serve her well later in her career.  She also was made an honorary Pledge for her raiser’s sorority, Alpha Kappa Psi, and attended meetings and even went camping with the Pledge group.

Freckles came back to Southeastern Guide Dogs’ campus in October 2009 to begin her formal harness training.  She quickly became a favorite of her trainer, Jen Gerrity. Freckles took on the persona of class clown, while frolicking in the runs, she would frequently leap over the other dogs and lead them all in a game of chase. Freckles also had a mind of her own. While out training in the heat, if they happened to pass an automatic door and she felt the air conditioning, she immediately felt they needed to do some shopping inside.  There was a time Jen wasn’t sure if Freckles was going to make it as a guide, as she didn’t seem to have the drive to work. That was until they tried clicker training on her.  Turns out she — like many Labs — was food motivated and she started to excel.

In May 2010, Freckles was ready to be matched.  Enter Sarah Leger, a sweet, quiet, petite young lady from Louisiana.  When the two met and started working together, magic happened: Freckles found her purpose, her second gear (there had been some concern her pace would be too slow for Sarah), and Sarah got the confidence to come out of her shell. Together the two blossomed during the training. 

“I knew the match was going to stick when Sarah started matching Freckles’ bows to her outfits," Gerrity said. "They were perfect for each other.”

After graduation, Leger and Freckles returned to Louisiana and started attending LSU Eunice, where Freckles’ experience in the classroom paid off.  When on break one weekend Freckles did something no one expected.

Leger was preparing for bed when she noticed Freckles was blocking her path and wouldn’t allow her go further. Wondering what was happening, she called her mother into the room. They discovered Leger’s computer monitor was smoldering and about to erupt in flames.  Freckles had saved the day by alerting Leger and her family to the impending fire. 

“I can’t believe that she did that”  Leger said. “I know she has been trained to safely guide me, but this was just amazing.”

The pair continue to flourish. Leger and Freckles crossed the stage together at graduation from LSU Eunice and are now making their way around campus at University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) where Leger is working towards a B.S. in Early Childhood Education.  Leger, having run into a few issues at first on campus, has been instrumental in raising awareness about guide dogs and Freckles is solely focused on her job of keeping Leger safe.

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