Marc and Rooney

Meet Graduate Marc

June On-Campus Training
Graduate Team
: Marc and RooneyGraduate Marc and yellow Lab guide Rooney
About the Team: Rooney, a male yellow Lab, is Marc’s 1st guide dog
Hometown: Kennebunk, Maine
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Alyssa David

Marc is a literature professor, living in Kennebunk, Maine with his wife of twenty years, Helen, a retired crisis counselor. They met forty-two years ago at Bowdoin College in Maine. He loves his role of stepfather to two adult children, as well as grandfather of two. Marc has been teaching English literature for Auburn University in Alabama for thirty-three years, but they returned to Maine, where he currently teaches exclusively via zoom, due to his vision loss and the pandemic. Marc was born legally blind and in the 1990’s experienced additional vision loss due to a complication during surgical repair of a torn retina. Marc and Helen love the theater, especially 20th and 21st Century drama. A published author, Marc enjoys reading as well as taking walks and he loves live music, including classical, blues and jazz genres. He shares that he enjoys Fleetwood Mac and Van Morrison, as well. Clearly, Marc has eclectic taste in music.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Rooney is very lovable and caring; a bundle of love when not working. His work ethic is amazing. When working he exudes his love for his guide dog role.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Everything I read about Guiding Eyes, including other people’s posting of videos and its reputation in the blind community, convinced me that Guiding Eyes was the right fit for me. I didn’t know anyone prior to my research.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I have utilized a cane since 2004. With the acquisition of a guide dog, I have become more comfortable in my daily activities. Rooney has been excellent at leading me away from obstacles and potential hazards. I have gained a greater ability to trust myself with Rooney by my side.”

Were there any training highlights? “Guiding Eyes has taught me to allow Rooney to lead, trust him, and allow him the time to sense situations that arise. The training, both on-site and at home, have been among the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. All of the instructors, care staff, kitchen and housekeeping staff at the school were wonderful and ‘non-stop’ accommodating. The food was tremendous and the residential rooms spacious and well equipped down to the very last detail, including coffee makers and condiments, and the room refrigerators filled with beverages and snacks. Our class was comprised of four trainees. Some of the memorable highlights included traveling to Manhattan, learning how to get on and off the subway cars, using stairs and escalators, and going for lunch at the 5 Napkin burger restaurant.  One special shout-out to Kathy Rooney, no relationship to my guide dog Rooney. Kathy is Guiding Eyes’, New England regional GDMI. She provided two days of additional home training. Kathy encouraged my wife to video tape me so it would enable her to assist in providing me with additional feedback. The instructors were so accommodating and available to help each student.”

Meet Guide Dog Rooney

“Rooney was one of the cutest pups I’ve had the honor to raise. He was always relatively laid back but enjoyed spending his time playing with our released Guiding eyes dog Nigel. His favorite activities included lounging in front of our *very warm* fireplace, hiking in the woods, and playing in and eating snow. His favorite treats included ice cubes with kibble frozen in them, and Kongs with peanut butter in them. He was a very independent puppy but loved to cuddle with Nigel, and even try to sleep in Nigels crate with him. I hope your time with Rooney is just as amazing if not better than ours was!”

Nikki Albert, Puppy Raisers of Rooney


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