Meet Tommy and guide dog Isaac

[Click here for the video audio description for our community with vision loss.]

Tommy Gagen & guide dog Isaac

Leesburg, Florida

guide dog, yellow Labrador, visually impaired man

Tommy and Isaac stand together in downtown St. Petersburg during training.

Tommy Gagen was a career engineer who loved working 16-hour days and traveling across the country to solve problems for his company. When that adrenaline-fueled lifestyle came to a screeching halt with abrupt vision loss, the toll was enormous. “I can’t complain, though,” he says. “I have too many friends who came back from Vietnam with severe issues. I tell people, ‘You can do anything you want to; you only lost your eyesight.’”

Tommy’s vision loss started with a tick bite, but the tick wasn’t the big problem. Instead, medication caused a severe “one-in-a-million” reaction and damaged his retinas. Tommy’s vision “crashes” from limited vision to total blindness, and he’s been stranded while walking in his community when his sight suddenly blacked out.

Tommy attended a meeting of the “VISA Club” —Visually Impaired Socially Active—where he met a special visitor. The guest was Suzy Wilburn, our director of admissions and alumni support, along with her guide dog, Carson. That encounter eventually led him to his “awesome, highly intelligent” guide dog, a yellow Labrador named Isaac. With his new guide by his side, Tommy is ready to enjoy his retirement and community where he loves to sing, dance, and—with help from friends—practice archery and target shooting. “I try not to stay home,” he says. With Isaac, Tommy can live with confidence again.

Isaac is sponsored by one of our 2017 Walkathon sponsors, IP Capital Partners, LLC, and named in honor of the company’s owner, Jason Isaacson.

Do you know someone that could use a guide dog? Encourage them to apply today.

Posted on July 18, 2019 | Category: Blog, Graduates, Our Dogs, Video