Graduate Team Andrew and Velvet

 In 2021 Graduations, Graduations, News & Events

Meet December Residential Training Graduate Andrew

Graduate Team:  Andrew and Velvet
About the Team:  Velvet, a female black Lab, is Andrew’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Newington, Connecticut
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Louise Thompson

Andrew returns to Guiding Eyes for his first guide dog, having been part of a puppy raising family when he was young. He is a U.S. Army veteran having served two tours of duty. Andrew is currently pursuing a graduate degree in social work at the University of Connecticut. He is looking forward to marrying his fiancé, Natalie, in the Summer of 2022.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Velvet is 3 years old and very loyal and aware. She has both a calm side and a rambunctious side out of harness. She picks up on my emotions and seems to know if we are about to work or go outside and play. Velvet knows how to ‘read the room’!”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I wanted the independence and confidence a guide dog provides. As I progress through my graduate program and start internships – and eventually rejoin the workforce – I know that independence and confidence will be required. A staff person at the VA referred me to Guiding Eyes. I was already familiar with Guiding Eyes, as my family raised a Guiding Eyes puppy when I was younger.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “After just a few weeks with Velvet, I am already more confident. She attends college classes and goes to the gym with me. Life has sped up! I am able to travel so much faster with Velvet!”

Were there any training highlights? “Training was a good experience. I learned to relax and trust Velvet.  I look forward to continuing building a bond with Velvet, as we learn together and navigate through life.”

Meet Guide Dog Velvet

  • DOB: 11/13/2018
  • Tattoo ID: 5V318
  • Color/Breed: Black Labrador Retriever
  • Gender: Female
  • Brood:  Tiara
  • Stud:  Florian
  • Littermates:  Vance, Vangie, Vanna, Vesey, Valiant
  • Region: Cleveland East/North Carolina
  • Regional Manager: Leslie Stephens/Kerry Lemerise
  • Puppy Raiser:  Dana Chapin/The Echols Family
  • Facebook:  Guiding Eyes Ohio Puppy Raisers
  • Facebook:  Guiding Eyes North Carolina Puppy Raisers
Black Lab guide dog Velvet

Velvet was a very confident and smart puppy who was always willing to go on an adventure.  She mastered all types of stairs at a young age, and had very good control around birds, such as geese when going on walks around ponds!  She was a very fun pup to walk around town when working on people greetings, since that was one of the hardest things for her to master.  I enjoyed her spunky personality and all the fun we had together. Velvet was a joy to start and I am so proud I could help her on her journey.

Dana Chapin, starter puppy raiser of Velvet

Velvet’s greatest trait was her very playful spirit, but once she settled in to work, she was really focused. Hiking on the weekends was an absolute favorite with Velvet and our family. She was always ready for an adventure and had an energy about her that made me smile. As always, I enjoyed my experience raising Velvet and I couldn’t do it without the team support in the NC region and our Region Manager, Kerry, who is amazing.

 Christine Echols, puppy raiser of Velvet

Enjoy these photos of the team and Velvet 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 Rebecca and yellow Lab guide VernonGraduate Ed and guide Serina
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