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Darien and Elvis

Meet Graduate Darien

Darien and black lab guide Elvis in their portraitGraduate Team: Darien and Elvis
About the Team: Elvis, a male black Lab, is Darien’s 1st guide dog
Hometown: Plantation, Florida
Training: November 2022 On-Campus

Darien lives in Plantation, Florida with her husband, and their 7 month old standard goldendoodle puppy. From the start, her first guide dog Elvis has fit right into their household. Darien works at Dick’s Sporting Goods and has an interest in attending college in the future. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hanging out, listening to music, and playing with the dogs.

How would you describe your guide dog? “He’s such a great dog. He’s very relaxed, always ready to take a nap, and he’s great about hanging out in the house. He likes to tilt his head when I talk to him. We have conversations and I just love talking to him. He’s very ‘me’ – very silly at times, which is like me because I can be silly at random times too. He loves when I talk in a high pitch and pet him and scratch him everywhere. We have lots of fun together. My husband and Elvis have fun too. My puppy loves Elvis, and they were immediately playing in the bushes when they met. He really enjoys it here with his new sister. I love watching them interact. Elvis loves his food – he doesn’t even chew – he just inhales it! His nickname is Roomba because he’s such a vacuum with his treats. He likes when we listen to music together. I’ll ask him if he likes the song and if he grumbles, I’ll skip to the next one. He’s a very fun dog.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Guiding Eyes was where I really wanted to go after getting a recommendation from someone who was going there as well. I knew everyone at Guiding Eyes would be good and I would feel at home there. It was nice going into it knowing it would be homey, and how the vibes would be. I wanted a dog that was solid all around and could handle things like sirens. He is exactly what I wanted.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I feel so happy. I’m not afraid of getting lost. He can find the door for us and even if I am lost, at least we’ll be together. If I’m a little tired, I have Elvis to keep us on track. He’s a confidence booster. People used to stop and stare at me with my cane, but now people talk to me. When they don’t know not to pet working dogs, I’ll teach people, so they know for the future, and being a people person already helps me.”

Were there any training highlights?  “I would say a highlight of my training was walking on the bike path. There was a woman walking her dog and when Elvis turned towards that dog and was told ‘no’, he just sat there and was like ‘I’m going to be good.’ He loves dogs and people so it’s kind of fun watching him play a game of self-control. That’s what makes it fun! My instructors at Guiding Eyes have been great through all of it. I had Shannon and Kat and they’re so different, but I got the best of both worlds. I also enjoyed Michelle and her baking, and the food and kitchen staff was great at Guiding Eyes!”

Meet Guide Dog Elvis

DOB:  4/21/2020
Litter ID: 2EE20
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Male
Brood: Nell
Stud: Wallace
Littermates: Eva, Eileen, Elton, Ernie, Emerson, Ellen
Region:  Central NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: MeKalea Chambliss
Puppy Raiser:  Ruth & Larry McConnelee
Facebook: Central NY Puppy Raisers

From the Raisers…

Each new puppy is an individual and Elvis was a standout from the very beginning. His strong personality and willingness to please made for a delightful journey. No matter what new adventure came along, Elvis was eager to tackle it. We spent summers at the lake which included swimming, canoeing and hiking. As fall approached, we received our next puppy -Rockford. This little boy was a welcome companion to us all. The winter months were spent with Rockford and Elvis sleeping together in front of the fireplace. Even though Elvis is a, big block head of a Lab, he is also a cuddler and a real people dog. He loved to get his vest on and was ready to see where we were going next. I’m sure as the new team is working, they will find new destinations to travel and make many memories . ~ Ruth and Larry McConnellee, Puppy Raisers

Photos of the Team…