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Kandi and Yacht

Meet Graduate Kandi

Graduate Team: Kandi and YachtKandi and yellow Lab guide dog Yacht sit on a bench with fields behind them
About the Team:
Yacht, a male yellow Lab, is Kandi’s 5th Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
Training: June 2023 Home Training

Kandi and her guide dog Yacht live in Savannah, Georgia where Kandi is employed in the Accounting Department of an oil distributor. In her free time, Kandi enjoys walking and spending time outdoors. She loves taking cruises, so she was very excited to have a guide dog with a seaworthy name like “Yacht.” The team is looking forward to two upcoming cruises in 2024 – one cruise is to the Bahamas with Kandi’s sisters. Two live nearby and another lives in Iowa. The second cruise  is an “All Paws on Deck” cruise that has several destinations to look forward to.

How would you describe your guide dog? “He’s very sweet and gentle and he loves working. He’s always eager to put on the harness. He’s a people watcher. He doesn’t get distracted by them though – he’s a very serious worker. We can walk right by people and even stop to talk to them, and he just goes with it. He also likes looking out the window and he loves to learn. We’d only been at the office for a week, and he’d already figured out where to go when we’re there. Funny enough, there’s a mat in the office he won’t sit or walk on!”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “From the first time I called Guiding Eyes prior to getting my dog in 1991, they made me feel so comfortable. I wasn’t aware of a lot of options back then, but other schools I spoke with didn’t give me that comfort level and friendliness. Guiding Eyes embraced everything I was asking about. I ended up putting in my application right after the first call.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “I believe my life has been improved so much because of my now five amazing guide dogs by my side. I’m so independent and confident when a guide harness is in my hand. Whenever I go back to using my white cane, I find myself going back to my old ways of always looking down and feeling less confident. I don’t know if I’d be doing what I’m doing, like living on my own, if I didn’t have him. They’ve given me the confidence to travel and move freely.”

Were there any training highlights?  “My trainer was Nikki -she was amazing and made me feel more comfortable from the moment she walked in. I knew right away training was going to go well. I’m always nervous meeting a new dog but as soon as Yacht walked in, I knew we were going to be a good match. His house manners were great and when we took that first walk with the harness in my left hand all my worrying went away. You worry it’ll be too fast or too slow, but it was perfect. From the start I knew we’d be a good team. I hope he agrees! He was always willing to try anything we threw at him. Whether it’s your first dog or your fifth dog, the feeling of holding the harness in your hand for the first time never goes away. The feeling of freedom. Now that you’re a team, you’re one again. You’re whole.”

Meet Guide Dog Yacht

DOB:  3/24/2020
Litter ID: 7Y20
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Capri
Stud: Ryan
Littermates: Yahtzee, Yodel, Yonkers, Yoda, Yvonne, York, Yamaha
Region:  Fingerlakes, Bay
Regional Puppy Instructor: Cassie Houghton, Cindy Tait
Puppy Raiser:  Alyssa Roorda, Paige Ritter
Facebook: Fingerlakes NY Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Bay Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Yacht was such a goofy, fun-loving, hardworking boy during his time in training. He split his time between our quiet family home in the countryside and the busy Cornell University campus. Although this was overwhelming and a drastic difference in environments for him, he handled it like a champ and built his skills in both places. He had an incredible on-off switch, being able to settle and relax and then jump right into working and moving. Yacht had very evident signals when he was unsure about something, but he was always willing to work through and overcome it. He was a gentle giant that loved people and was mostly unfazed by other dogs, unless it meant playing with his “brother” or friends at college. Yacht is a one of a kind pup and will not only be a great guide, but just a great friend to have! ~Karyn and Alyssa Roorda, Puppy Raisers

Photos of the Team…