Fate works in mysterious ways. That's certainly the case for Joey Foat, GDB's newest qualified guide dog mobility instructor. While in school studying communications at Western Oregon University, Joey worked for the college campus dining program where he'd work in the school's coffee shops, as well as assist with catering and bartending at events. One fateful day, a conversation with a customer about Guide Dogs for the Blind prompted Joey to learn more. The rest is history.
"I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly when I was finishing college," Joey said. "I knew I would love to work with both people and animals but didn’t know in what capacity." Indeed, Joey's entire life seemed to be pointing him to a career with both people and animals, so the idea working at Guide Dogs for the Blind was intriguing. Joey grew up in Portland, Ore., and as a youngster, had participated in many of the Oregon Humane Society’s educational offerings: he attended its camps and after school programs, and when he was an older teen, he volunteered and was eventually hired as a summer camp employee for several summers. As a teenager, he also worked at a dog and cat boarding and grooming facility as a kennel technician. "It was meant to be when I found out more about GDB," Joey said. "It was a no-brainer for me because who wouldn’t want to get paid to work with animals?"
Joey came on board as a canine welfare technician (CWTT) in our Training Department on the Oregon campus, and after about a year in that role, he knew he wanted to pursue becoming a guide dog mobility instructor, a career choice that required a three-year, hands-on apprenticeship. "GDB's values, the support I receive, and the ability to grow with the organization has solidified my desire to continue in this career," he said. "Starting my day with wagging pups who are happy to see me is one of the favorite parts of my job. But it's hard to choose just one thing. Working with our amazing clients, and seeing the results of 12+ weeks of training the dogs is really special too. It makes me so happy to have a part of such an impact in people's lives."
It doesn't hurt that he gets to come to work in the shadow of where he grew up - in fact, he only lives a half mile from his childhood home. "I’m very close with my parents, brother and his family, and am lucky enough to have most of my extended family in the greater Portland area. Weekly dinners with my parents are one my highlights of every week," he said.
In his spare time, Joey enjoys cooking for friends, loves a good dive-bar karaoke night, and delights in watching reality TV. He and his fiancé, Taylor, plan to get married this summer. The couple have two pets at home: a brindle German Shepherd/pit bull mix named Edie, and a black and white cat named Glenn.
Congratulations Joey on your accomplishments at GDB!
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