Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Christian and Umpire

Meet Graduate Christian

Christian and Umpire sit shoulder to shoulder for indoor team portrait

Graduate Team:  Christian and Umpire                        
About the Team:  Umpire, a male yellow Lab, is Christian’s 1st guide dog
Location:   Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Training:   June 2023 On-Campus

Christian is a first time guide dog user, entering a new and independent chapter of his life. He has recently taken a break from college courses, moved to North Carolina and is now participating in a training class at Ablr, studying website accessibility testing.  Following certification Christian intends to work in the accessibility field, eliminating barriers for those with disabilities in a world where information is becoming increasingly digital.  Christian loves writing, nature, and hiking, and after growing up with Labradors in his family, he is enjoying walks and traveling with his new guide, yellow Lab Umpire.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Umpire is getting used to the move here – we have a routine and have bonded very well. He stays by me, which helps a lot. He is the perfect combination of fun and helpful. In harness he is a hard worker and takes his job very seriously. He focuses and memorizes everything I tell him, and he’s very good with targeting. Out of harness he is playful, loves to have fun, and is extremely loyal.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “Having been blind since the age of 7, and receiving extensive Orientation and Mobility training in High School and early college, I decided to move out on my own.  My Dad and I began researching different guide dog schools.  He had heard about Guiding Eyes, so my first information about the school came from him. The application process and the whole experience was very positive. Any time I reached out or needed help with how the process worked, everyone I got in touch with was nothing but friendly and helpful.  Once the application was in, everything was very smooth; from arriving and getting the dog and beyond. All the rewards that are coming from that are very positive.  I am excited and appreciative. I travel more confidently and safer with my guide, Umpire.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life?  “My life has been impacted in so many ways.  On one level, having a dog to look after helped me to grow, and look outside of myself a bit more.  I am traveling more confidently and I’m safer and more inspired and willing to try more things.  His companionship is amazing.   I’m excited to see where we’re going to go.  Where I live the streets are residential, with businesses near my complex. To cross the street, I ask him to take me ‘to the curb’. He is good at moving me around people. When friends visited, and we went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner, he was so mellow and well behaved, even though I knew he smelled the food.” 

Were there any training highlights?  “In my class, four of us were first timers.  During meals on campus there was a good amount of time for the group to get together, get to know each other and talk about our experiences. During class, the learning process is very intensive, but the instructors made it comfortable for us, and also made it fun.  We had a lot of good laughs together.  They made the training a lot less tedious and stressful than it could have been, whether we were going to a restaurant, the mall, Walmart, a coffee shop, or walking around White Plains. We brought the dogs into public spaces, sitting them in the best position and helping them to remain calm in those situations.  The way the instructors did the training was great.”

Meet Guide Dog Umpire

DOB:  11/10/2020
Litter ID: 4UU20
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Guava
Stud: Wallace
Littermates: Uber, Ulani, Ubanks, Utica, Ulla, Una, Unity, Utah, Ultra
Region:  North Carolina, Central NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: Kerry Lemerise, MeKalea Chambliss
Puppy Raiser:  Jeffrey Desvignes
Facebook: North Carolina Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Central NY Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Umpire had an air of quiet confidence about him from day one – never too excitable, even while constantly receiving shout-outs wherever he went. Settling came naturally, as he would sit at my feet while I worked or lay beside me while I read. He was a constant reminder that the important things in life don’t live in a computer but in a community. Umpire had the unique opportunity to stretch himself early on in his working life, transitioning from running through sunflower fields in Raleigh to leaping through snow in Syracuse. All the while, providing me with the unique privilege of getting to raise him for the first 18 months of his life and becoming a part of the Guiding Eyes community.  ~ Jeffrey Desvignes, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…