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Laurel & Odette

Meet Home Training Graduate Laurel

Grad Laurel sits with guide dog OdetteGraduate Team:  Laurel and Odette
About the Team: Odette, a female yellow Lab, is Laurel’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Scottsdale, Arizona
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Michael Goehring

Laurel is a first time guide dog user and high school senior with a passion for live theater. If asked about her favorite activity, she’ll tell you she “lives and breathes” performing.  She not only acts, sings and dances, Laurel is skilled at sound design. Her greatest accomplishment was being awarded ‘Best Sound Design for a High School Play’ for her audio work in ‘12 Angry Jurors’. With her love of theater, it’s no surprise that Laurel is an extrovert that loves to be around people. She enjoys making people smile and talking or hanging out with friends.  She and Odette are looking forward to future adventures, theatrical or otherwise, together.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “She’s very loving and will sit as close to me as possible, even if that means squeezing into the smallest space to do it. I consider Odette’s energy level right in the sweet spot. She loves sleeping and her squeak toys. Not to chase or tug, but just to make it squeak, then drop it. However, she loves to work – when I get the harness out, not only her tail, but the whole back half of her body wags. She absolutely loves it.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I attended the VRates expo and they offer technology and resources for the blind.  Guiding Eyes was there, and they were happy to talk with us.  We really enjoyed that interaction and meeting Mike, who would become my trainer. A guide dog was there with him and he allowed me to see what’s it’s like to hold a harness. It was really imprinted in my mind when I left, that these are the nicest people I’ve ever met. The home visit was great and everyone I’ve encountered from Guiding Eyes has been so nice.”

How do you feel a guide dog will impact your life? “I have much better posture walking with Odette. I tend to stare down towards the ground and curl forward, but now I walk with more confidence and my head up. It’s so much better. Odette is so good at what she does; she’s amazing.” 

Were there any training highlights? “The first moment I met her, it just clicked. She left the trainer and came right over and sat next to me. It was as if she knew somehow, that I was her person. It was immediate. It was the most beautiful moment ever.”

Meet Guide Dog Odette!

Odette's happy closeup on a stop during trip to ArizonaOdette has an enthusiasm for “everything” – tail wagging and eager to please – and she’s a smart dog.   She was cast in Annie with a local theater group, playing the part of Sandy.  It was challenging with so many people, music and responding to Annie, but she rose to the occasion and the audience loved her.  On an extended hiking trip that included 5-8 miles of kayaking each day, she would sit nicely in my kayak and just observe as the world floated by. She was a grand partner to explore natural beauty with. To know that we, as raisers, play even a small part, in preparing our pups to be observant, faithful guides for their eventual partner, is incredibly rewarding.

David Jollie, Puppy Raiser of Odette

Enjoy these photos of the team and Odette as a pup on program…