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Arlene and Yardley

Meet Graduate Arlene

Arlene and black Lab Yardley sit side by side for formal graduate portrait

Graduate Team: Arlene and Yardley
About the Team: Yardley, a female black Lab, is Arlene’s 6th guide dog (1st Guiding Eyes)
Hometown:  Lake Charles, Louisiana
Training: July 2023 On-Campus

Arlene and her husband reside in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she lives an active life in retirement. In her free time, Arlene enjoys crocheting, reading, and spending time with friends. Arlene is also an active in her church and is second Vice President in her NFB chapter. She is enjoying the love and companionship Yardley provides in their home, as well as a return to independent and safe travel.

How would you describe your guide dog? “She is a dog with personality; she usually keeps pretty busy. She likes going around and around with a toy in her mouth while you pet her with both hands as she goes. When I saw her the first time, that was it. I was very comfortable with her. She is so small and just too sweet. I would call my husband every day and say ‘you wouldn’t believe what she did. You’re going to love her!’  When my husband met her, she melted him like she did me. Every night we put her toys away and every morning she takes them out and puts them around his chair so he will play with her. She’s very quick to learn and I just love her. I always give my dogs middle names and didn’t know if I could find one that fits her, but I did. It’s Yardley Kate because she’s a little princess and she needed a princess name.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “My best friend has a guide dog named Hope from Guiding Eyes and often talks about the school. I was thinking of applying for my next dog and she asked why don’t you apply to Guiding Eyes? I applied and had God on my side. I couldn’t believe it when I got the call. I would go back again in a heartbeat.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I can travel more independently again, just like I did before, and I’m so glad. I can travel with a cane, but I prefer a guide dog. Having Yardley has made our house so much happier. It just wasn’t the same without a dog. She brings so much joy to both of us. There’s just nothing like having another guide dog. I love it!”

Were there any training highlights?  “The training was awesome. We were in Specialized Training and originally, I thought I wanted to be taken out of it, but I’m so glad I wasn’t. I get migraines but had the flexibility to take time from training if I needed to. They took so much extra time with Yardley. Ellin taught her to stop and show me obstacles I could trip on, instead of bringing me around them. If there is a broken sidewalk, she’ll stop so I know it’s there. The little extras the trainers did mean so much to me. I have balance issues and they went the extra mile. I lost my balance a few times and was afraid I couldn’t go home with a dog. Ellin said, ‘Arlene, this dog was trained for you.’ She was so reassuring. Because of that, I gave it everything I had, even some days when I didn’t feel that well. I wanted this dog so badly and I would do anything to get her home with me. One afternoon Ellin said ‘Arlene, remember you are going home with her. You don’t have to worry at all about that.’ I really liked that it was a small class with more individual training. They bent over backwards for me. If there’s something you need, you’ll get it.”

Meet Guide Dog Yardley

DOB:  11/19/2020
Litter ID: 2YY20
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Roz
Stud: Dasher
Littermates: Yoda, Yosemite, Yolanda, Yamaha, York
Region:  Capital NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: Kate Gardner
Puppy Raiser:  Bigelow-Zahn Family
Facebook: Capital NY Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Yardley has many fine qualities, but one of her greatest is that she never complains. From Day 1, never a peep in the crate. We only heard her bark once: when she first saw wild turkeys. She is, however, an excellent communicator, with expressive eyes and a sweet way of putting her chin on your knee and gazing up to ask to go out. She also always checks on anyone who sneezes, coming right over to make sure you are ok. We wish her and her new partner a wonderful life together. ~ Tana Bigelow, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…