Guide Dog Earns Retirement

After a long and loyal career, Lexie is retiring. But instead of a gold watch and cocktails, Lexie might want a new collar and some gourmet Purina.

That's because Lexie is a dog, a seeing-eye dog in fact, who has served her blind owner for 10 years.

But now, after a decade of helping owner Mike Lantz get around Miami, Lexie is getting a chance to relax and live the good life.

At 13-years-old, Lexie is returning to the Texas breeder she came from, to live out her final days on a farm.

"I'll miss Lexie very much but I wish her the best of luck with whatever happens," Lantz said. "I wonder if she knows what's happening."

Lexie, a labrador, retired in style this week, with a small bash, thrown by the National Federation of the Blind's Miami Chapter.

Though it can cost upwards of $50,000 to train and replace a guide dog, Betty McNally, president of the chapter, explained that it's necessary for dogs like Lexie to retire.

"There is usually a period where [a dog is] going downhill, they don't work quite as efficiently," McNally said. "They walk slower, think slower, just like human beings."

Lantz hopes Lexie stays sharp in retirement, all while having a good time.

"I want Lexie to be not really a guide dog but still kind of stay in focus," Lantz said. "They're going to take Lexie to the lake, let her swim, let her have a good time."

Lantz, 55, has been blind since birth and is a local advocate for blind issues, which he says are still a problem in Miami. He works with the Miami Beach Board for the Blind.

"I love going places with my guide dog Lexie but unfortunately there are some places where people tell me you can't go in with the dog," Lantz said.

Robert Lessne, a mobility specialist who spent a year blindfolded so he could help his blind patients, worked with Lantz and Lexie.

"We need more public education for people to know that you can't seperate a person from their service animal because it's like me saying, 'Leave your eyeballs home,'" Lessne said.

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