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Christopher and Gabriel

Meet Graduate Christopher

Chris sits with black lab guide Gabriel in a room with deep orange wallsGraduate Team: Christopher and Gabriel
About the Team: Gabriel, a male black Lab, is Chris’ 2nd guide dog
Hometown: East Amherst, New York
Training: March 2023 Home Training

Chris was raised in Syracuse, NY and graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He then went on to earn a master’s degree in information technology management from Syracuse University. Chris lives and works in western NY State as a career adviser for SUNY – University at Buffalo. His work with students includes career exploration, job interview preparation, internship development, and employer recruitment development for students at the University’s School of Management. He and his wife Melody, a para-legal for a real estate law firm, have four children, Elyse, 33, Steven, 25, Andrew, 22 and Maggie, 21 years old. Chris’ hobbies include walking, making wine, and spending their free time at their cottage on Lake Ontario. His vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa. At the time he first learned about Guiding Eyes he had central vision; however, his vision is currently limited to light acuity. Gabriel is his second guide dog from Guiding Eyes. His first guide dog, Pancho, who he received in 2013, was recently retired and remains with the family.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Gabriel is incredibly fast. I thought my retired guide dog, Pancho, was fast until I experienced Gabriel. When doing targeting, we move very quickly. He is also very sensitive to my needs and those of others in our house. My wife has a puggle and they get along nicely.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “To be perfectly honest it was really just the luck of the draw. Guiding Eyes was located in close proximity to Buffalo and that was a factor. Having great success with Pancho, I had no reason to look elsewhere.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “They have opened up my mobility within the neighborhood where I live, which has been an incredible gift. I can get outside on my own, and it has enabled me to easily move from building to building at work, which has been amazing.” 

Were there any training highlights?  “The training I received in the snow and ice stands out. Gabriel was very good at handling the weather, with no impact on his performance. Lisa Derleth was my home trainer for both my guide dogs. My retraining with Gabriel was very helpful because of my increased vision loss since my initial training.”


Meet Guide Dog Gabriel

DOB:  4/28/2020
Litter ID: 5GG20
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Male
Brood: Lizzie
Stud: Vassar
Littermates: Gil, Gus, Goodman, Gracie, Gingham
Region:  Southwestern VT
Regional Puppy Instructor: Kate Gardner
Puppy Raiser:  The Altland Family
Facebook: Southern Vermont Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

One of Gabriel’s trainers described Gabriel as affable and I have to agree that it is the perfect word to describe him. Friendly, outgoing and always up for an outing, a game of fetch, a snuggle or a hike. He was the dog that everyone loved because he was so good natured, but he also loved to work. Gabriel was always ready to put on his vest, load up in the car and head out on an adventure. He was a joy to raise and can’t wait to hear about his next adventure! ~ Susan Altland, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…