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Bradley and Laurel

Meet Graduate Brad

Brad sits next to black Lab guide dog Laurel for team portraitGraduate Team: Bradley and Laurel
About the team: Laurel, a female black Lab, is Brad’s 3rd guide dog (1st Guiding Eyes)
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Training: September 2023 On-Campus

Brad is retired from a career in banking and has been a guide dog user for decades. He and his wife, also a guide dog user, make their home in Ontario, Canada, and Brad appreciates the safety of a guide dog in Toronto traffic. His current guide, Laurel, joins them and his retired guide Babette, and his wife’s guide dog, Frosty. Brad anticipates the adventures he’ll enjoy with Laurel in the future. In his free time, Brad likes reading, cooking, listening to music, helping out with new technology, and traveling. One of the team’s next adventures is an upcoming family cruise, which they are very much looking forward to.

How would you describe your guide dog? “I would describe her as very affectionate and she’s very loyal already. If I leave the room, she likes to know where I am. She checks in all the time and when we’re working, she checks back every few minutes. She’s a very curious dog too; she’s curious about absolutely everything. She’s also a very active dog with a lot of energy. She’s taken to kicking one of the toys in the backyard and then chasing after it. Round and round the yard she goes with it! She really enjoys the backyard and she and Babette love to play together.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “My guide dog was getting older, and I applied to my previous school, but because of Covid they said it could take 3-4 years. I’ve never heard anyone say they’ve had a bad experience at Guiding Eyes. I’ve only ever heard good things, so I decided to apply. Ben Cawley had been my trainer at the other school, and I knew he was at Guiding Eyes now. One of the first times I called, Ben recognized my name and picked up the phone. I found Guiding Eyes to be quite receptive and I had spoken to GDMI Lisa on and off for years at conferences. When I was invited into a Guiding Eyes class, purely by coincidence, I flew in on my birthday.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I’ve always been legally blind but had enough limited sight to get around until I was almost 50 years old. I was still working when I lost my sight and I had to go through big underground tunnels to get to work. I couldn’t do it, even with a white cane, so I decided to get a guide dog. I grew up with animals when I was a child, and it was nothing for me to jump in the pen and play with cows and sheep. I always had a real respect for animals, so it wasn’t a really far-fetched idea for me to want to get a guide dog. It’s just made it so much easier to get around obstacles and they keep you safer. They help you cross busy street crossings, and I literally have six lanes of traffic in some of my crossings here. It takes much longer to walk with a cane than it does with a guide dog, for sure!”

Were there any training highlights? “For the most part it was a very positive experience. The staff was great of course, but our class was awesome. You get to spend a fair amount of time together and we really couldn’t have had a better class amongst the six of us. When Laurel saw her puppy raiser after graduation, she had a bark of joy, but she didn’t bark at anyone else. She likes everyone and seems to think everybody could be her next BFF.”

Meet Guide Dog Laurel

DOB:  8/5/2021
Litter ID: ILL21
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Nell
Stud: Donny
Littermates: Lacy, Lash, Lyons, Lenny
Region:  Westchester
Regional Puppy Instructor: Elizabeth Vacchiano
Puppy Raiser:  Dawn Gayer
Facebook: Westchester Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

It was a privilege and pleasure to raise Laurel! Lovingly referred to as my sweet licorice jelly bean, as a puppy, Laurel was spirited, happy and excited to approach every new situation with gusto! She was inquisitive, playful, thrived on the mental stimulation and challenges of our daily outings and had a fearless approach to new situations. Raising Laurel gave me a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and pride in her growth and progress. I especially enjoyed taking Laurel to museums, on the train, sightseeing in NYC and exploring on our daily walks. I wish Laurel and her graduate partner joy in the freedom of experiencing as much as possible of what the world has to offer!  ~ Dawn Gayer, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…