Daryl and Yasha

Meet Graduate Daryl

Daryl and yellow Lab guide dog Yasha pose for team portraitGraduate Team: Daryl and Yasha
About the Team: Yasha, a female yellow Lab, is Daryl’s 1st Guiding Eyes dog & 2nd guide dog
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Training: January 2023 On-Campus

Daryl was born and raised near Vancouver, British Columbia and moved to Edmonton, Alberta, in 2004. Yasha joins a big family, with Daryl, her partner, Doug, as well as Daryl’s retired guide dog, Jenny, their three cats, and Crew, Doug’s guide dog received from Guiding Eyes in the previous class. Daryl and Doug chose not to train together, in part to avoid leaving Jenny and their cats and interrupting the continuity of their care and environment. Daryl currently works as a legal assistant, and is also a student at Athabasca University, working toward a certificate in finance. She is very interested in working in the field of personal finance. Daryl was born with a visual impairment and has light perception and very little usable vision. Her hobbies and interests include long distance running; she loves participating in both half and full marathons. She also enjoys beaded jewelry making and reading (among other things) biographies, literary fiction, and mysteries that make her think.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Yasha is very sweet. She is not afraid to get my attention but is always very polite, when she does so. When she wants to play, she will actually throw her toy right towards me. She does not beat around the bush when she is interested in playing. However, Yasha has a very serious work face and attitude when she is wearing her harness.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Their running program and its reputation are what attracted me to Guiding Eyes.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I am a much more confident traveler with Yasha, as opposed to relying on a cane. Having a guide dog that loves what she does is really amazing. Having the two working guides plus a retired guide dog under one roof, getting along so well and playing together, is incredible and a lot of fun! Throw in a trio of cats, and there’s no end to the cuteness and hilarity that ensues!”

Were there any training highlights? “I was trained on campus and there were four students in class, and two instructors. I was matched with Yasha, and from the very start she took her job very seriously. I had a great mix of classmates and lots of one-on-one time with the instructors, which packed a lot of great information into a short period of time. We traveled by train to New York City, which was a priority for me, as I use light rail travel at home and when I travel to new cities. I loved seeing Yasha so successfully guide in a bustling city, and even taking new targeting opportunities in stride. During our down time in the evening, I had time to do a fair bit of work, but also had time to connect with friends and family back home and unwind with classmates over a coffee or a game of Uno in Alumni Hall.  Since my recent graduation, I have kept in touch with my classmates. Navigating around the Guiding Eyes dorms and campus layout was made easy because they have incorporated different textures and types of flooring materials in the hallways and dorm rooms.”

Meet Guide Dog Yasha

DOB:  11/6/2019
Litter ID: 2Y319
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Harlow
Stud: Zinc
Littermates: Yani, York
Region:  Eastern CT, Montgomery
Regional Puppy Instructor: Maureen Hollis,  Jeanyne Gembarski
Puppy Raiser:  Barbara Close, The Birks Family
Facebook: Eastern CT Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Montgomery Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

I had Yasha for the first 3 months of her training and enjoyed every minute. She was one of (if not the) sweetest dog I have worked with. And smart! It always amazed me how quickly she would pick up new commands. She was great to walk because she never pulled, rarely got distracted and walked at a great pace. Always very confident. Always ready to try something new. I’m very excited that she made it to guide dog and know that she will be a great asset to her “person”. ~ Barbara A. Close, Puppy Raiser

Yasha is patient and loyal. Her eyes focus on you with such intensity that they make you melt. But she wasn’t always that way, arriving at the start of COVID – my husband and I working from home, as was my youngest finishing his H.S. junior year, and my oldest his college freshman year. She had a lot pf people around – and wanted a lot of attention. Over and over we rewarded her for settling or getting a toy. She grew into incredible companion and a puppy who loved to play, explore and be with her family. She loves hiking and swimming, and we took her canoeing a few times. She plays tug of war like no other, greets you each and every morning with extreme enthusiasm, will wait patiently to eat or go for a walk, and smiles when she is outside. After busy days of outings, walks and playtime she always enjoyed evening downtime. At the end of each day she’d snuggle on the floor with me and rest up for whatever the next day would bring. We are so proud of her amazing dedication and beautiful spirit. ~ Heather Birks, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…