Graduate Team – Eric & Flyer

 In Graduations, News & Events

Meet Home Training Graduate Eric

Graduate Team:   Eric and Flyer
About the Team:   Flyer, a male yellow Lab, is Eric’s 4th guide dog
Hometown:   Brattleboro, Vermont
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Kathy Rooney

Eric is a retired High School Guidance Counselor, a position he held for 30 years and shared with his three previous guide dogs. With more free time in retirement, Eric now enjoys staying active with walks and hikes, so he appreciates Flyer’s youth and high energy.  Eric has many interests, including playing the ukulele and guitar, camping, live music events and woodworking. On his property is a shed skillfully built by Eric himself, as well as a vintage 1985 VW camper he continues to take great joy in maintaining and updating.  He is excited to think of his future with Flyer, a name he finds meaningful, as many have compared having a guide dog to a feeling of flying. With Flyer comes freedom; Eric’s been given a new set of wings.

How would you describe your guide dog? “He’s a perfect combo of work ethic and heart; playfulness and high energy. I bonded with Flyer almost instantly, a magic similar to what I felt meeting my retired guide Ryan. It’s amazing how he’s always looking out for me. He has a silly side, but when it’s time to work he’s like, Ok I’m on it. He always seems to know what I need and he’s right there.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “As a cane user in college, I met guide dog users and it was clear to me that the Guiding Eyes team seemed more connected than the others; their relationship was rock solid. I decided then if I ever got a guide dog, it would be from Guiding Eyes.  Each time I’ve had the good fortune to train with a new dog and trainer, I find the best things are still taught, but with new things added, making it even better.   During this pandemic emergency, my trainer was detailed and mindful in a way that could only result in success. She presented as professional and positive, but also serious and highly conscious of maintaining our safety. With Guiding Eyes I’ve enjoyed successful partnerships and a treasure of support. This organization is very important to me. I’d never go anywhere else.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “They brought the world back to me. My guide dog not only provides the joy of mobility, but the opportunity to meet my neighbors or exercise or be more connected to my community. I found a joy in people being more comfortable interacting with me. As I fit into the sighted world, I’m saying ‘I am blind, but that’s ok. I have this amazing dog supporting me with love everywhere I go. I’m good. I can do anything.’  People respond to that.”

Were there any training highlights? “That would have been when I sent out an email request to neighbors, and at the designated time they appeared on the street with their dogs or riding their bikes. With their presence, Flyer was able to work on general obedience and dog distraction at a safe distance.  He did beautifully and it was so much fun for everyone.” 

Meet Guide Dog Flyer!

  • DOB: 5/5/2018
  • Tattoo ID: 9FF18
  • Color/Breed: Yellow Labrador Retriever
  • Gender: Male
  • Brood: Gigi
  • Stud: Oakland
  • Littermates:  Frank, Fenway, Finch, Flora, Fez, Flo, Filo, Flanders, Filene
  • Region: Wayne County
  • Region Manager: Joy Hawksby
  • Puppy Raiser: Cindy Best
  • Region Facebook: GuidingEyes/Wayne 

“Flyer always loved to do things and go places and he was amazingly tolerant and cooperative. I was both proud, and in awe of, his ability to know the difference between being in vest or not. One day while shopping with Flyer in his Guiding Eyes vest, a small companion dog in a grocery cart was barking up a storm. As we walked past the dog at a normal pace, Flyer glanced up and kept moving; not at all distracted! This was awesome, because with such a commotion, all eyes were on the two dogs. It was clear that he and I were a team and Flyer was a serious working dog. We went quietly about our business. Watching Flyer develop the confidence to make good decisions is what I enjoyed most about raising him.”

Cindy Best, Puppy Raiser of Flyer

Friends and Family:  Watch this video to learn more about  Working with a Guide Dog Team.

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