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Lukas and Sawyer

Meet Graduate Lukas

Lukas sits with black Lab guide dog Sawyer for their team portraitGraduate Team: Lukas and Sawyer
About the Team: Sawyer, a male black Lab, is Lukas’ 1st guide dog
Hometown: Elizabeth, Pennsylvania
Training: February 2024 On-Campus

Lukas grew up in the Pittsburgh area and earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Washington and Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pennsylvania. He worked as a case manager for a drug company until 2022, when complications from diabetic retinopathy caused a significant loss of vision. His responsibilities included securing insurance coverage for those in need. Lukas is preparing for a return to the workforce with his new guide dog, Sawyer, and help from Pittsburgh Blind and Visual Rehabilitation Services. He emphasizes how very supportive his family has been throughout his health challenges and his journey towards partnering with a guide dog. Lukas’ interests include martial arts, and he is studying both Kung Fu and Jujitsu. He also enjoys playing the game Dungeons and Dragons and has recently taken up knitting. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Sawyer is an extremely intelligent, a big, old goof yet he is very sensitive. When not working he loves to nap and when awake he really enjoys playing tug-of-war. He is a huge ‘people person’ and loves to be praised. I also have a female pit-lab mix, Medusa, and they have become the best of friends. Sawyer is the perfect boy.”  

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “When I initially became interested in the idea of a guide dog a friend suggested sending out applications like I did when applying to colleges. My first contact with Guiding Eyes stood above the other schools because they were the first to get back to me and quick to respond to my emails. They were very accommodating, and quickly set up a home interview.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “With my vision worsening, getting Sawyer helped me with my independence, allowing me to get out by myself. I gained confidence and support when taking bus routes and just getting around outside.”

Were there any training highlights? “Number one was meeting Sawyer on my first day at Guiding Eyes. I fell in love with him instantly. An easiness came over my body instantly. The staff were so friendly and accommodating, providing me with a rush of confidence. There was a total of five students in my group. Kat, Michelle and Caroline, our trainers, accommodated us above and beyond my expectations. The school even had a basket of fruit and various other snacks in my room, in the event I needed them because of my diabetes and blood sugar concerns.”

Meet Guide Dog Sawyer

DOB:  4S321
Litter ID: 12/18/2021
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Roz
Stud: Elrod
Littermates: Scarlett, Sullivan, Saint, Sophie, Seager, Skye
Region:  North Carolina
Regional Puppy Instructor: Kerry Lemerise
Puppy Raiser:  Stacey & Gavin Hansen

From the Puppy Raiser…

Sawyer was a fun loving addition to our family of 6 and 3 dogs. He made us laugh all the time. He had the best of all worlds, a dog pack and a human pack. You just knew Sawyer was so happy by the way he greeted you with his full body wiggles! You felt his joy every time you saw him. My eldest son, Gavin, and I chose to raise Sawyer together as a service project before he left for college. Gavin is at the United States Military Academy 20 miles from Sawyers training school. We dropped off Gavin in June of 2023 and then Sawyer in August of 2023. We could not be more thrilled to all come back together to celebrate Sawyers graduation with his new partner. ~ Stacey Hansen and Gavin Hansen 

Photos of the Team…