Retired Guide Dog at Home with Scott and Adriana
Travels from Colombia to Live in Fort Myers
Scott and Adriana White’s family now includes a 4-legged native of Colombia. Flor, a 15-year-old Labrador retriever, recently retired as a guide dog. After 13 years of serving as a companion to Adriana’s brother, Miguel Moreno, Flor has moved to Florida to enjoy her twilight years.
Miguel lives in Cali, Colombia, South America. He lost his eyesight 18 years ago when he was the victim of a shooting. While representing Colombia as a cyclist in the Para-Olympic Games for the disabled, Miguel talked to a fellow cyclist who told him about the Seeing Eye Dog Foundation. That conversation led Miguel to adopt Flor, who had recently graduated from her guide dog training program.
Flor completed guide dog training in 2005, graduating from the Vishnu Del Cypres in Bogota, Colombia. During her training, Flor learned the responsibilities of a guide dog: to help her human partner safely navigate the world. Flor served Miguel for 13 years, guiding him from place to place in his daily life; steering him clear of all hazards on and off the ground; finding entrances, exits, elevators, and stairways; locating empty seats; and helping him cross streets. She alerted
Miguel when anyone approached the house. Like all guide dogs, Flor was always ‘on duty’—there to help Miguel 24/7.
During a visit to Colombia last year, Adriana noticed Flor was struggling a bit when getting up and down. She mentioned it to Miguel, and he called Flor’s trainer, Juan Carlos Guerrero, who works for the Vishnu Del Cypres Foundation. Juan Carlos said that when guide dogs get ill or infirmed, they are no longer able to help their owners, and he advised Miguel to look for someone to adopt Flor. Miguel was determined to find a family who would love Flor and care for her, so he reached out to family members in Colombia, friends, and families of fellow disabled friends, but no one stepped forward to adopt Flor.
“I could not stop thinking of Flor and her adoption quest,” Adriana said. “One morning I said to Scott, ‘Why does Miguel have to look for someone? Flor has taken care of him for so long. She is family. She needs to stay with family’.” Scott agreed, and Adriana began the process to bring Flor to her retirement home in Fort Myers.
Adriana called the airlines to find out how to transport Flor and found that because of her size, Flor would have to travel through a cargo company. A helpful representative at Mudinter Cargo guided Adriana through the process, providing information on travel kennel size, vaccination needs, travel documents, and airport fees to transport Flor from Cali to Miami. The representative sent Adriana pictures of Flor’s whereabouts during her travel.
Adriana’s sister, Martha, met Flor in Miami and later drove her to her new home in Fort Myers, where she settled in with Adriana, Scott and family pets Bagel, an 11-year-old Beagle Labrador mix and Coco, a 3-year-old cat. “I know it will take a little time for Flor to realize she is a pet now after working as a service dog for 13 years,” said Adriana. “It’s a little adjustment for us, too. For example, when it’s time for a walk, we put her leash on. But she doesn’t move. She waits for us to give her a command—’Vamos’— to proceed.” Adriana said there are other reminders of Flor’s service career. “If Flor is standing in the house and she’s in your path, she doesn’t automatically move out of the way. As a guide dog she was trained to hold her ground, so you have to command her to move.”
Scott says the adjustments are minor. “We are happy to give Flor a loving home after all her years of service to Miguel. So far she is thriving, loving all the petting and affection we give her,” he said.
For information on the foundation that trained Flor, visit http://fundacionperroguia.com