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GDB Grad Living Large in the Big Apple

Tuesday May 07, 2024

A woman and her guide dog sit in front of flowers in a city park.

Margeaux Gray remembers the day she got the call that GDB had a guide dog for her. She was volunteering at a nearby animal shelter. In between the barking dogs, she heard the good news. “It was really joyful. It was a wonderful call,” recalls Margeaux. The only catch: training was just two weeks away. To complicate matters, the bathroom ceiling in her New York City apartment was severely damaged due to a water leak two floors above.  But nothing was going to keep Margeaux from flying to our California campus to train with her new guide dog. “I was like, ‘this is not going to stop me.’ Everything was fixed a day or two before I had to fly out.”

Margeaux retired her previous guide dog and had been using a white cane to get around New York City. This would be her successor guide dog, and she was excited to start training so she could move about the city more freely. “It’s a different form of traveling independently with a white cane. The cane is very important to know and have, but these dogs, they change our lives.” 

The day after she arrived on campus, Margeaux met her new guide dog, Wrigley, a yellow Lab. “It was more exciting than my birthday or any kind of celebration,” says Margeaux. “He came right over to me and was very wiggly and joyful but also very curious and observant. It was a special day.” 

After undergoing two weeks of training, Margeaux met Wrigley’s puppy raisers on graduation day. Wrigley was co-raised by Margaret Prima-Verbeck and Roderick Verbeck as well as Nick, Gail Meinert, and Sarah Meinert. “I was thankful to them for raising him. I could tell how much they loved Wrigley and how proud they were of him,” says Margeaux. She continues to stay in touch with his raisers and sends them photos.

After arriving in New York City, Margeaux followed her instructor’s advice and slowly introduced Wrigley to his new environment. They walked short routes around her neighborhood and then visited the subway station and other busier areas. He navigated everywhere flawlessly.

One thing that caught her a bit by surprise: Wrigley was not a fan of the rain. Margeaux called GDB’s Support Center for advice. “They recommended I get out there and sing and play in the rain so Wrigley would see it as a positive experience.” She tried it, and it worked. “It was fun. We got quite wet,” laughed Margeaux.

Margeaux says if she had a message to send to donors it would be this: “These dogs change our lives and add so much substance, joy, and independence. I love having a companion by my side that I trust to guide me safely from point A to point B. We are a team.” Shortly after they arrived in New York City, Wrigley provided that safety and trust when he kept Margeaux from walking in front of a car that was leaving a parking garage.  “We were walking pretty fast, and before that car could possibly have hit us, Wrigley came to an abrupt stop, and I was like, ‘oh my goodness.’ I was grateful to Wrigley for doing a great job and to all those involved at GDB in supporting and training him to become a guide. These dogs save our lives.”

When he’s not guiding Margeaux, she makes sure Wrigley has plenty of work/life balance. “We have a lot of play sessions together in my apartment. He makes me laugh because he loves his toys. He brings them to me and to his bed making sure he always has one to sleep with. He loves to cuddle so we do that as well.” Margeaux says she has GDB’s donors to thank for the enhanced independence, freedom, and friendship she has experienced with Wrigley. “They are part of my journey because their money has made a difference in my life and in Wrigley’s life.”

Categories: GDB Alumni, GDB Community, Puppy Raising