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Kristi and Derek

Meet Graduate Kristi

Graduate Kristi and black Lab guide DereMay On-Campus Training
Graduate Team:  Kristi and Derek
About the Team:  Derek, a male, black Lab, is Kristi’s 5th guide dog
Hometown:  Enid, Oklahoma
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Deanna Lentini

Kristi lives in Enid, Oklahoma and recently returned for her 4th Guiding Eyes dog. She likes spending time at the gym, going to church, walking with her guide dog, and riding her tricolor American Paint horse, Thunder. She rode Thunder in Enid’s Veteran’s Day Parade a few years ago.  Kristi is looking forward to the summer because she enjoys swimming and Derek likes the water too. She was formerly employed in a manufacturing plant, but is currently taking steps to apply for vocational training, possibly with assistive technology.

How would you describe your guide dog?  In harness, Derek is very focused and loves to work, wants to please and has a great personality. During traffic training, Derek was spot on and stopped at a good distance, which made me feel very safe. Out of harness, Derek is very personable and playful – a joy to be with.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “When I was in high school, I was the only totally blind student in a class of 394.  I met a lady who had a guide dog and she let me walk with her dog.  I knew then that I wanted a guide dog.  My mobility instructor shared a book, A Guide to Guide Dog Schools, so I was able to learn about all the schools. After high school I went to World Services for the Blind and met some people there who had guide dogs from Guiding Eyes. Listening to them and being around their dogs, I decided that was the school I wanted to go to. Since my first Guiding Eyes dog, they have always been there for me, and these are awesome dogs.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life? “So many ways! I love the independence, the freedom, and knowing you have the safety and security of a trained dog. The partnership and companionship are great.    A guide dog can be an icebreaker to open people’s eyes and help them see what it is like for people who cannot see. In a guide dog, you have a pair of eyes that will love you unconditionally.”

Were there any training highlights? “I can’t thank Guiding Eyes enough, from the puppy raisers to the kennel staff, kitchen staff, and of course the trainers. The trainers made the best matches, and were so encouraging, saying things like, you can do this and you’re going to be successful. It only took going to my dorm room twice for Derek to know which room we were staying in. One evening we were sitting in the lobby with Derek out of harness. There’s an inflatable dinosaur to help train the dogs to ignore distraction and it was leaning over a chair. Although he blew right past it while in harness during training, Derek laid his head down on the chair, eye to eye with the dinosaur, and started barking. When the nurse, Kathy, came out from her office to ask me what was up, I said, ‘oh, he’s just upset with Dino.’ It was very funny. Thank you for putting such a wonderful dog with me.”

Meet Guide Dog Derek

Derek is sweet, loyal, funny and a little crazy. He will keep you laughing and give you a kiss when you least expect it. Derek came to us about 6 1 /2 weeks old because of Covid and we fell in love with him right away. He was quick to let us know of his love for water. Derek loves other dogs, to play tug, chew bones and snuggle just about anything, dogs, people and toys. If you can’t find Derek he might have crawled under your bed or desk. Favorite moments with Derek are hiking, running, swimming, outings and road trips. He is a great traveler. One of this nicknames is Der Bear because he is so big. Love this silly, sweet, smart boy.

Michelle McCullough, Puppy Raiser of Derek


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