Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Carlton and Laurel

Meet Graduate Carlton

Carlton sits with arm around black Lab guide dog Laurel in their team portraitGraduate Team: Carlton and Laurel
About the Team: Laurel, a female black Lab, is Carlton’s 1st guide dog
Location: Oakland, California
Training:  March 2024 On-Campus

Carlton was a state vendor through the California Business Enterprise program before his retirement. He and his wife currently reside in Oakland, and they love spending quality time with their children and grandchildren, who live in the same area. Recently, the family celebrated the fifth birthday of Carlton’s grandson by taking a trip to Disneyland where his guide Laurel was an excellent companion. In his free time, Carlton enjoys walking, listening to music, and attending outdoor concerts and summer music festivals. He is a passionate supporter of his favorite football team, the Oakland Raiders! He loves taking his guide dog Laurel with him to the gym and is looking forward to taking her on some upcoming trips and adventures, like outdoor summer concerts at the park. He and his wife have planned an anniversary trip, heading north of San Francisco to “Wine Country”, the beautiful Napa Valley.

How would you describe your guide dog? “I would describe Laurel as a very smart and outgoing dog. She has made my training an easy process. She knew what to do right away and it was like, ‘Follow me -I got you.’ We bonded on the first night she was given to me. I thanked her raiser for being a part of making her the dog that she is today. She has a laid-back personality like me, and I love her a lot.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “In 2016 I knew I would want a guide dog in 3-4 years. I was looking at Guiding Eyes online. I have a friend who went to Guiding Eyes and he has a German Shepherd named Hampton.  When I met him, I liked Hampton and was amazed at how smart he was! Because of Hampton, I decided to come to Guiding Eyes.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Well, it’s getting me out more! I feel better with Laurel there. I’m more comfortable with curbs, or an elevation change and things like that. She lets me know. I feel more comfortable overall when I’m out with her. A lot of times my wife tells me where the curbs are, but she might miss one. It makes me more independent to have a sidekick who is looking out for me. There’s a path I took her on where people jog or ride their bikes. I was wondering why she was constantly pulling towards the left. Well, she was shorelining, because there were no sidewalks! She’s such a good dog.”

Were there any training highlights? “The funniest thing was during obedience training. Our instructor, Shannon would say something, and Laurel would already be doing it. She was listening to the instructor before I could give the command. I was telling people back home it was as if Laurel was going to make sure I got an ‘A’ in class, even if I didn’t know anything yet! She just knew what to do even if I messed up. The first time we did stairs she kept stopping to check in with me. She blew me away! On the long plane ride home I got so many compliments. The man sitting behind me said, ‘You should be very proud of that dog. That’s a very good dog.’ I was already thinking this about her.”

Meet Guide Dog Laurel

DOB:  8/5/2021
Litter ID: 1LL21
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Nell
Stud: Donny
Littermates: Lash, Lacy, 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, loving 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

Photos of the Team…