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David and Annalise

Meet Graduate David

David sits next to yellow Lab guide dog Annalise for their team portraitGraduate Team: David and Annalise
About the Team: Annalise, a female yellow Lab, is David’s 1st guide dog
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Training: September 2023 On-Campus

David is from Mooresville, North Carolina, situated outside of Charlotte, N.C. Over the years, David worked in a building supply company lumber yard, as well as on delivery docks, loading and unloading cargo. Currently he owns a farm and provides boarding for horses. His farm is not only a home to horses but also serves as a venue for weddings, birthdays, and other group events. David has been married for 39 years to his wife Paula, who works as a registered nurse. They have two adult children, Matthew and Megan, and a 15-year-old grandson, Kaden. David lost much of his vision in 1984 as the result of a benign tumor. He currently has limited cloudy frontal vision with no peripheral sight. David’s hobbies have always included working on old vehicles and his latest project is a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro. He is currently restoring this classic car for his wife, and he describes it as a work in progress. Annalise is David’s first guide dog, and she is not only settling into life on the farm, but she also loves it.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Annalise is a very sweet dog. She listens very well and has already gotten attached to my family, as well as farm life. I just love her to death.”                                                             

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “My wife got on the computer and discovered Guiding Eyes. She called and liked the way the staff spoke to her. They always took the time to explain things and answer our questions. Guiding Eyes even came down to videotape my property beforehand to assess my needs.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Annalise is a great companion and brings me so much love, smiles, and protection. She gives me more freedom, independence, and purpose in life. She helps me out throughout the day and puts a whole lot of effort into assisting me around the farm, and when I go out to appointments, church, run errands or even just out to eat. It has always been hard going from a bright area into a dark space, like outdoors into a darker store, so she helps me be able to continue to walk in like a sighted person and guides me every step of the way.  I used to have to just stop and wait for a bit before going into the new dark area, but now I can walk in with tall stature – looking up to see where I’m going instead of looking at my feet as if announcing Queen Annalise and her best friend have arrived! This entire process and experience has been, and will forever be, life changing for me!  I can’t thank Guiding Eyes and the staff enough for what they have given me!

Were there any training highlights? “The entire experience was very different because I had never been to any part of New York. They provided training in New York City, and I really didn’t care for the crazy, crowded environment; however, the training down there was top notch. The training staff was excellent. Samantha, who worked with me, was very nice. She put in a lot of work training me. The entire staff is hardworking. The kitchen staff was great. They served more food daily than I would usually eat. There were six students in my class, including myself, Brad, Cathy, Gail, DeAnna and Hunter. We celebrated the birthdays of Brad and Cathy during our two weeks of training. The group had a blast, which made the training experience fun. I’ve met lifelong friends that I still call and keep up with, as we have so much in common and can talk about our guide dogs too! I especially have a new friendship with Annalise’s puppy raiser.  She is so amazing; we share pictures, give her updates on Annalise, and talk on a regular basis!”

Meet Guide Dog Annalise

DOB:  6/17/2021
Litter ID: 8AA21
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Violet
Stud: Kisco
Littermates: Augie, Amaya, Alyssa, Adele, Alec, Arden, Angelica, Aqua
Region:  Richmond
Regional Puppy Instructor: Madeline Bruggeman
Puppy Raiser:  Katlyn Heidenthal

From the Puppy Raiser…

Annalise was a wonderful puppy to raise. She has the biggest personality and sweetest disposition, and no matter what she did, she always put in 110%. She has the cleanest heel, knowing exactly where she needs to be, and always ready for the next task. If she ever picked something up, when told “out”, I swear you could hear the cartoon sound when she spat it out. She was my shadow, going everywhere with me, and teaching me as much as I taught her. Annalise had a huge impact on me and helped me start a new chapter of my life. As my first puppy, she got me hooked on raising and I will forever be grateful to her for showing me what it means to be part of something much bigger than myself. ~ Katlyn Heidenthal, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…