3 thinking dogs

Meet the Thinking Dogs

Golden retriever Jana holds a tug toyJana is the original Thinking Dog and the inspiration for this blog. Jana always knew that she was a princess and loved to be in charge. Not the typical loves-everyone golden, Jana was very analytical and thought things through carefully. This included a thorough assessment of new people before she decided whether she would allow them to befriend her. And, of course, only friends could actually pet her.
Jana was born in Tzur Hadassah, Israel, and moved to the United States shortly before her second birthday. She had a strong work ethic but demanded prompt payment (in food) for her work. She was deeply loyal and very sweet and affectionate, once she had accepted you into her small pack. Getting an effusive greeting or voluntary cuddles was like winning the lottery. I miss Jana every single day.
(Photo by Cathy Condon)


Albee paddleboardGuiding Eyes Alberta, born April 25, 2011, boasts a pedigree of more than 10 generations of purpose-bred guide dogs. She excelled in her early puppyhood education at Guiding Eyes’ Canine Development Center and advanced to living with puppy raiser Lisa McMains and family when she was 8 weeks old. She learned many skills that serve her well in her current career as guide to Deni Elliott.
Always the athlete, as a puppy, Alberta trained hard in the sports of dock diving and unrolling toilet paper. She excels at Rally and has recently added stand-up paddleboarding and riding along in a golf cart as Deni golfs to her sports repertoire.
A precocious girl, Alberta was recalled to Guiding Eyes for training at only 14 months of age. She considered giving up her career to raise future guide puppies, but chose a working life over motherhood. Alberta began working with partner Deni Elliott before her second birthday and retired, due to an eye problem, shortly after she turned 5. She lives in Nashville, TN and Lolo, MT with her family.
(Photo courtesy of Deni Elliott)


Golden retriever Cali in a grassy park with her tennis ballCali, who joined the Thinking Dog staff at age 8 weeks, chooses to be a Dog of Leisure. She resoundingly rejected both service work and motherhood, and a promising career as a therapeutic visiting dog was abruptly ended by the COVID epidemic. The quintessential golden retriever, Cali has no concept of a “stranger” and has declared that her mission in life is to meet every single person on the planet. (Social distancing is simply impossible for her.) She is the happiest dog I know, and her sunny optimism goes a long way to mitigate potential annoyance over her penchant for eagerly greeting each new day well before the sun is up — always with a toy at paw (or in mouth). Cali, too, is an aspiring athlete. She is a driven ball-chaser and a star at beginning scent work. She loves her life in often-snowy Missoula, MT.


Koala, a black Lab, considers playing with one of everal toys

Guiding Eyes Alberta picked up the baton passed by Alberta. She’s brilliant, analytical, and often devious in arranging the world to suit her. On duty, she’s a skilled and innovative guide. Off duty, she’s all dog and loves to play with any and every dog she meets (and many humans). She’s a stickler for the rules, especially the ones she made up, and hounds the humans, sighing and rolling her eyes, over the humans’ consistent failure to live up to standards.

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