Graduate Team Karl Erik and Raffi
Erik and Raffi’s training was sponsored in loving memory of Edward and Fleurette Roberts from their daughter, Christine.
Meet July Residential Training Graduate Karl Erik
Graduate Team: Karl Erik & Raffi
About the Team: Raffi, a male yellow Lab, is Erik’s 2nd guide dog from Guiding Eyes
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Michelle Tang (July Residential Class)
Erik earned a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Puget Sound. He enjoyed a 27-year career as an occupational therapist and supervisor. Erik is well traveled. With Poco, his first guide dog, Erik traveled to 8 countries, 10 states and went on 4 cruises. In addition to traveling, Erik enjoys gardening, swimming, strolling the parks, flea market shopping and season tickets to a local Broadway show series.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Raffi is very attentive and ready to work! He likes to be wherever I am in the house. He is always up for an adventure. He is very smart and a quick learner. Raffi has a great personality and is affectionate and loving. Raffi and I bonded instantly! During training, my guide dog mobility instructor, Michelle, said Raffi and I are well suited for each other and will bring out the best in each other.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “My first guide dog Poco is also a male yellow Lab from Guiding Eyes. He and I had a wonderful experience and many adventures working together. It was an obvious choice to return to Guiding Eyes for a new guide as Poco entered retirement. I was able to adopt Poco and start working with Raffi. Guiding Eyes is great to work with throughout the entire process; from application to returning home after graduation with your guide. The support Guiding Eyes offers is outstanding!”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “A guide dog gives me independence, confidence and a sense of safety. In addition to being blind, I am also hearing impaired. I can rely on my guide dog to know which direction traffic is coming from. Having a guide dog also means I am less dependent on my husband and the other people. After being home from training for just 5 days, I traveled with Raffi to Oregon to attend a family gathering. He did great on the plane, and he quickly learned to navigate the town we visited.”
Were there any training highlights? “Returning to the Guiding Eyes campus for training was a “homecoming” for me. I saw many familiar faces from my previous visits. My trainer Michelle was awesome! She was able to customize the training as needed. I appreciated her teaching style, patience and sense of humor. A highlight of training is always the field trip to New York City. It’s the perfect training ground; I feel that if you can work with your guide dog in a complicated place like NYC, you can succeed anywhere!”
Meet Guide Dog Raffi
- DOB: 2/22/2019
- Dog ID: 5R19
- Color/Breed: Yellow Labrador Retriever
- Gender: Male
- Brood: Jessa
- Stud: Charlie
- Littermates: Radley, Risa, Robin, Roxy
- Region: Southwest CT
- Regional Manager: Maureen Hollis/Caitlyn Landry
- Puppy Raiser: The Reesman Family
- Facebook: Guiding Eyes Southwest CT Puppy Raisers
Raffi was an incredible source of joy for us. We had him through the pandemic, and I will say he gave us more than we gave him! He’s so capable and eager; training him seemed effortless. He loves people and dogs! But he developed the ability to remain connected and calm when those distractions were high. He’s out front on walks and a great self-soother. He’s like an old soul in a pup’s body. He has an adorable wiggle when he wags his tail – like he’s spinning a hula hoop around his middle. One of my sons said, “Raffi’s like the son Dad wished he’d had.” (He’s not wrong!) 😉 Charlie, (his dad), was a joy to train because he wants to do everything he’s asked, but Raffi was on another level – so eager and quick to learn any skill. We miss him terribly, but we’re also so glad he can go on to help someone. Enjoy him. I have no doubt he will be loved by everyone who spends time with him.
Jim Reesman, Puppy Raiser of Raffi
Enjoy these photos of the team and Raffi 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.