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Daniela and Leilani

Meet Graduate Daniela

Graduate Team: Daniela and Leilani
About the Team: Leilani, a female yellow Lab, is Daniela’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Training: October 2022 On-Campus

Graduate Daniela and yellow Lab guide dog LeilaniDaniela is 31 years old and currently works and resides in Chicago, Illinois. She was born in Virginia, but grew up in Honduras, Central America. She moved to the Chicago area at the age of thirteen. She attended college at the University of Chicago earning undergraduate degrees in history and psychology. She received a JD, (Juris Doctor degree), at Cornell University, and a second law degree, an LLM, (Master of Laws), from Northwestern’s, Pritzker School of Law, specializing in taxation. She states that she chose this career path because it provides her with challenges through a mix of working with numbers and written communications. Daniela has been employed by Price Waterhouse Cooper for two years. Her vision loss is due to Leber Congenital Amaurosis, a genetic disorder, which she was diagnosed with at the age of three. Daniela’s hobbies include reading, piano, and traveling abroad to different countries she has read about. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Leilani has a whole lot of energy and is very active. She is sweet, and affectionate. She is food motivated and always eager to please.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I initially learned about Guiding Eyes in high school. A friend of mine participated in an outreach program and was the recipient of a Guiding Eyes guide dog. Leilani is my second guide dog from Guiding Eyes. My first guide dog was Beatrice, received in 2009 when I was 18 years old. It was a great experience. I learned early on that having a guide dog provides me greater independence and obstacle avoidance. Beatrice had to be retired in 2020, during the height of the pandemic.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Leilani provides me with 24/7 companionship. I always feel protected and enjoy her company. Having Leilani brings structure to my day as she needs to take scheduled walks, and be fed her meals. These added tasks bring me more structure to my daily routine.”

Were there any training highlights? “Michelle Tang was my primary trainer on the Guiding Eyes campus. She made training fun and the overall experience positive. We first practiced simple routes on-campus, familiar to Leilani. The campus has been upgraded and its design is more functional, user friendly and accessible than my experience with my first dog. We eventually practiced at malls, coffee houses, and various stores, oftentimes having fun ordering coffee, snacks, or lunch. Following this early training we traveled in the evening for more challenging training. Our obedience training incorporated environmental distractions, including having a cat attempt to distract Leilani. Meals offered were enjoyable and plentiful and the kitchen was able to accommodate my vegetarian diet.”

Meet Guide Dog Leilani

DOB:  2/5/2020
Litter ID: 7L20
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Bonnie
Stud: Garcia
Littermates: London, Loretta, Lucille, Lancelot, Lilac, Laura, Luau, Laddie
Region:  Fingerlakes
Regional Puppy Instructor: Cassie Houghton
Puppy Raiser:  Madeleine Guerrier
Facebook: Fingerlakes Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

The day I picked Leilani up the first thing I noticed about her is that she’s determined. She was determined to crawl all over me, get to her water bowl, and get out of her crate. She’s also determined to do her best, make me proud, and succeed. Leilani is a bouncy, energizer bunny that has always had a need to please. She has proven herself again and again, bouncing back from off days with grace and clicking herself back into a steady working brain. Raising her was an absolutely pleasure and I know I’ll never have a dog like her again. She is a real delight to have around, and I know she makes the best guide dog a person could have.  ~Maddie Guerrier, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the team…