Laguna Woods puppy working as a guide dog in Arizona – Orange County Register

No one can say that Inja lives the life of the dog.

It’s the black Labrador featured in the Globe last summer who was bred by village resident Penny Flaherty to eventually become a guide dog for the blind.

After her time with Flaherty, Inja received a few months of formal training at a Bay Area guide dog school, then landed a job in late November.

Inja now lives in Tucson, Arizona in a big house with a big walled yard, a big pool, a hoop and other toys to play with.

But he’s a working dog – his job is to guide Rob Moreno, a military veteran who lost his sight in an accident. Inja has a playmate at home – Moreno’s wife Christine has her own guide dog, named Lagos.

Just two weeks into his new job, Inja proved his worth: Moreno emailed Flaherty to let him know that Inja had saved him from being run over by an oncoming car. to transform into them.

“She stopped, barked and led him back to safety,” Flaherty said. “She did her job!

  • Inja’s new family in Tucson, Arizona: Rob and Christine Moreno with their guide dogs: he with Inja and she with Lagos. (Courtesy picture)

  • Rob Moreno of Tucson, Arizona holds his guide dog, Inja, in a harness. Inja was raised by Laguna Woods Village resident Penny Flaherty. (Courtesy picture)

  • Inja guide dog in his harness. (Courtesy picture)

  • Moby takes a break from learning new things on a walk with his puppy raiser, Laguna Woods Village resident Penny Flaherty. (Photo by Mark Rabinowitch)

  • Moby, an 8-week-old blond Labrador retriever, in the arms of Laguna Woods Village resident Penny Flaherty, who will be training Moby as a guide dog for the blind. (Courtesy of Penny Flaherty)

  • Laguna Woods resident and puppy trainer Penny Flaherty sits once more with black lab Inja in the back of her vehicle before the guide dog-in-training drives off. (Courtesy of Penny Flaherty/Guide Dogs For the Blind, Laguna Niguel)

  • Inja, a 2-year-old black Labrador, has her eyes glued to her trainer’s face. She is in training to become a guide dog for the blind. Her trainer is Laguna Woods resident Penny Flaherty. (Photo by Mark Rabinowitch)

  • Laguna Woods Village resident Penny Flaherty with Moby, a guide dog in training, and a painting of Inja, Flaherty’s former pup. (Photo by Mark Rabinowitch)

Inja is the couple’s first guide dog, and Flaherty says they are thrilled to have a daughter.

“They bought her a pink bed and handed out bubble gum pink cigars to friends who said, ‘It’s a girl!'”

Flaherty, meanwhile, has her hands full again with a new pup. She had Moby, an 8-week-old blond Labrador, in September. She will have him until he is around 15 to 18 months old, teaching him basic obedience, house manners and socializing in public.

This last point means that Flaherty will take Moby to clubs, gyms, restaurants and grocery stores, exposing him to as many different places and situations as possible so he gets used to it.

Flaherty reminds people that if they see her with Moby on the go, it’s okay to wave and say hello, but not to cuddle, hug, kiss or play with this irresistible bundle.

“I have to explain that if I’m blind and you come and pet my dog, it distracts his attention from me and could put the blind person in a dangerous situation,” she says.

You may think it would be hard to give up a dog that has been in your life for 18 months. But Flaherty sees it differently.

The Morenos “sent me a box of Valentine’s Day candy with a note that said, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom. I love you. Inja.’ “, She said. “That’s all I need and to know that she is in a loving home and that she will help Rob in his daily activities.

For more information on raising a puppy, a local chapter of the Guide Dogs for the Blind organization can help. Those who don’t want to fully commit to raising a puppy can be puppy sitters and pick and choose when they want to give breeders a break.

Contact the local at gdblagunaniguelpuppyraisers.com or call 949-280-5464.

For more information, to volunteer or donate to Guide Dogs for the Blind, contact guidedogs.com or call 800-295-4050. Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California is supported by donors, with no government funding.