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Christopher and Jenko

Thank you to our generous June Graduate Sponsors…

“Congratulations to the June graduating class and guide teams.  Healthy Vision Association is  proud to support Guiding Eyes and all the great work you do.”

Healthy Vision Association Charity Fund

“We celebrate all of the graduates this day. We appreciate all of your perseverance to arrive at this point in your journey with Guiding Eyes. We dedicate our shared sponsorship of this particular graduation to the memory of Kate Fanti. She was an enthusiastic Guiding Eyes volunteer who brought the understanding of the important mission of Guiding Eyes to WCDNF. She brought Omar to a club meeting. We miss her and we believe that her giving, friendly manner helped with the preparation of the Guiding Eyes puppies.  She often shared photos and anecdotes about her very special puppies at club meetings.” 

Women’s Club Danbury/New Fairfield

Meet June Residential Training Graduate Christopher

Graduate Christopher sits with his guide dog JenkoGraduate Team:  Christopher and Jenko
About the Team:  Jenko, a male black Lab, is Chris’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Raleigh, North Carolina
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Michael Racioppo

Chris comes to Guiding Eyes for his first guide dog. He attended the Governor Morehead School for the blind and previously worked at IFB Solutions, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for the blind and visually impaired.  Additionally, Chris has enjoyed an interesting career, working as a “Santa” for 25 years, and a magician for 19 years, for both corporate and private events.  He looks forward to continued independence with Jenko by his side.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Jenko is a beautiful 2 ½ year old, black Lab.  In harness he is a perfect gentleman, and off leash he is silly and fun.  Jenko took his training to heart; recently when my wife was backing up the car, even though I was not in any danger, Jenko put himself between me and the car.  My wife and I are enjoying taking Jenko on adventures.  He’s been to a casino and has enjoyed swimming and playing fetch at a lake.  Recently we visited a winery and the winemaker saw Jenko’s Guiding Eyes harness and commented that he donates to Guiding Eyes.  It was pretty special!”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “At first, I was hesitant – not sure I could trust a dog.  But as my vision declined, I realized I couldn’t trust myself and wanted to remain independent and not have to rely on my wife.  I knew other people with guide dogs and when I researched guide dog schools, Guiding Eyes appeared to be the best.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Before I had Jenko, I would walk very slowly and cautiously.  Now I can keep up with those I am with and walk with confidence!  Jenko is very patient when it comes to stairs and curbs and knows I need to take my time.  Jenko has changed my life and made it better.  My only regret is that I didn’t get him sooner!”

Were there any training highlights?   ““At first training was a bit of an unknown to me and a little scary, but I immediately clicked with my trainer Mike, and he put me at ease.  Mike and another trainer, Jolene, went out of their way to include a visit to magic shops during our training in NYC.  Everyone worked long hours to make the experience amazing and successful.  I can’t say enough about Guiding Eyes.  Everything, from the facilities to the food to the support, was excellent.  I expected the best, and it was even better!  By far, the biggest highlight was getting to meet Jenko and beginning the process of getting to know each other and working together.  We continue to learn together; neither of us is perfect, but we are perfect for each other!”

Meet Guide Dog Jenko

Jenko has always been a spunky pup whose tail could really be a registered weapon with how much he whips it around. He’s full of joy and love and can always be found smiling like crazy. Every morning when he left his crate, he would always have to bring his woobie (doggie toy) out of his crate to show everyone how proud he was. We called him Jig Jag Jenks because he used to swerve back and forth when we went on walks. Jenko’s other nickname was Jack Rabbit because of how high he could jump into the air. We always noticed how much Jenko loved to work, getting excited whenever he got his vest on. We are so proud of all that Jenko has accomplished and even happier to see him succeed in his dream job of being a guide dog.

Shannon Doubet, Puppy Raiser of Jenko

Enjoy these photos of the team and Jenko as a pup on program…