Graduate Team – Alexis and Armstrong

 In Graduations, News & Events

Meet May Residential Training Graduate Alexis

Graduate Alexis and yellow Lab guide dog ArmstrongGraduate Team:  Alexis and Armstrong
About the Team:  Armstrong, a male yellow Lab, is Alexis’ 3rd guide dog and 2nd from Guiding Eyes
Hometown:  Jacksonville, Florida
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Deanna Lentini

Alexis is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and a master’s in vision rehabilitation therapy from Western Michigan University. Most recently, Alexis completed graduate courses at both Utah State and the University of N. Florida toward her designation as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. Alexis enjoys her career, teaching basic living skills to blind students through her job at the Division of Blind Services in Jacksonville. When she is not working or pursuing further education, Alexis likes to read, especially memoirs and books about forensic science.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Armstrong is 2 ½ years old and a great worker.  He’s ready to go when he sees the harness!  When he is not working, he is very ‘chill’ and relaxed. He can often be found sunbathing in any patch of sunlight he finds on the floor.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “When I was ready for my second guide dog, I researched guide dog schools once more. I decided on Guiding Eyes because of how individualized the training program is. I really enjoy training at the Guiding Eyes campus and the camaraderie formed amongst those in the class. Chef Rob does an amazing job with the on-campus menu too!”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I am much more comfortable going out when I have a guide dog. It is very hard to trust and navigate traffic without Armstrong.  An added benefit is the outreach the dog does when I am working with blind students. My students and their parents quickly realize how much they are capable of and how much is possible with the support and skills of a guide dog!”

Were there any training highlights?  “Getting Armstrong was a highlight!  My trainer Deanna did an excellent job of tailoring the training to my actual lifestyle. Armstrong and I got to practice the skills we will use daily. During training, Deanna challenged Armstrong with lots of distractions simulating what he will be confronted with when he goes to work with me. I frequently travel to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind for my job. At the school there are some very steep and intimidating steps. Deanna made sure that Armstrong was ready for those steps.  We navigated them just the other day, and he was a wonderful guide. Another highlight was a dinner out with our training class.  Armstrong proved he was good at settling and I was able to enjoy a fantastic lobster mac & cheese!”

Meet Guide Dog Armstrong

We began raising Armstrong when he was about a year old. He was a big, strong dog that liked to pull and lunge. We worked a lot on controlling his excitement and learning just how big he was. We did some stability and agility exercises and he really got to know how to control himself. He quickly settled in with our family and was always gentle with everyone and the neighborhood kids. As he got older, Armstrong most liked to lie around, relax, and sunbath. He turned into a very mellow dog who enjoyed long slow walks and chewing on a bone. He’d play tug a bit and chase a ball now and again, but for the most part he liked to watch the world and enjoy affection. Armstrong loved cuddling and getting a belly rub and if you let he he’d crawl right into your lap. He probably still thinks he’s a lap dog. When out, Armstrong was a great ambassador for Guiding Eyes. He was the practice dog for four different people who were considering being raisers; all of them eventually signed up and are raising now.

The Payne Family, Puppy Raisers of Armstrong

Enjoy these photos of the team and Armstrong as a pup on program…

Meet our other recent guide dog team graduates. Click here!

Friends and Family:  Watch this video to learn more about  Working with a Guide Dog Team.

Graduate Paul and yellow Lab guide dog BoGraduate Melissa & black Lab guide Lowell
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