Graduate Team – Eric and Becky
Meet Home Training Graduate Eric
Eric is a retired High School Guidance Counselor, a position he held for 30 years and shared with previous guide dogs. With more free time in retirement, Eric now enjoys staying active with walks and hikes. 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. Eric is delighted that a little ‘uptick’ at the end of Becky’s tail reminds him of a similar feature on his very first guide dog.
How would you describe your guide dog? “A magical dog! Becky’s personality, working and otherwise, is phenomenal. She works me hard and I’ve already lost pounds since she joined me! She loves playing with my retired guide Ryan and is sensitive to his limits; they just play so joyfully together. She isn’t clingy and is comfortable being on her own, but loves lying at our feet, preferably in front of the wood stove. When I’m settled, she’s always right beside me or under my desk. She loves working, has adapted to my needs really quickly and is always willing to learn. She loves my wife too, but knows that I’m her main responsibility. She’s incredibly easy and accepting of grooming, including having her teeth cleaned and her nails clipped.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog at 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. My trainer was phenomenal! They have so many ideas in their toolboxes, shared between them, and it was great to be able to try new training techniques that worked so well. 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. I’m really ‘in the moment’ when I walk with Becky on our daily 3 mile walk and each day it’s becoming smoother. We’ve already mastered downtown walks and rural walks and I feel safe with her.”
Were there any training highlights? “Miranda focused on clear fundamentals that made me sharpen my skills. It was an outstanding experience and I continue to work on the things she was emphasizing; focusing layer by layer on developing my skills. On some rural routes, she used her bike to accompany me, which worked really well, as I didn’t have footsteps in the background. Using a bell for targeting really worked and I liked that it also gave me an audio cue that Becky had appropriately targeted. It’s now a brilliant tool going forward.”
Meet Guide Dog Becky
- DOB: 8/17/18
- Tattoo ID: 6B318
- Color/Breed: Yellow Labrador Retriever
- Gender: Female
- Brood: Asti
- Stud: Ingot
- Littermates: Bea, Brianne, Bina, Blanche, Mill, Balto, Bonnet, Barkley
- Region: Cleveland West
- Regional Manager: Leslie Stephens
- Puppy Raiser: Morgan Kowalski
- Facebook: Guiding Eyes Ohio puppy raisers
Becky was such an awesome dog to raise because she was so willing to work and retained her work so well. She lit up everyone’s day as she went through 8 challenging hours of classes at Cleveland State University with me. My favorite outing though, was when we stayed overnight at Kalahari Indoor Waterpark! She behaved like an angel and all the work we did really shined. Becky was my first dog, and I learned so much patience with her. I also found a new passion, puppy raising! I cannot wait for Becky and Eric to begin their life together; they are truly the perfect match. I hope he cannot wait to play tug every day for the next few years! Best of luck!
Morgan Kowalski, Puppy Raiser of Becky
Enjoy these photos of the team and Becky as a pup on program…
Meet our other recent guide dog team graduates. Click here!
Friends and Family: Watch this video to learn more about Working with a Guide Dog Team.