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Ralph and Cannon

Meet Graduate Ralph

Graduate Ralph and black Lab guide dog CannonJuly Home Training
Graduate Team
: Ralph and Cannon
About the Team: Cannon, a male black Lab, is Ralph’s 1st guide dog
Hometown: Pompton Plains, New Jersey
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Kathryn Poallo 

Ralph, 75 years young and a lifelong bachelor, worked for his own leasing and finance company until his retirement 7 years ago. Around the age of thirty, he took a serious interest in fitness and nutrition, which has continued throughout his life. As the 3rd generation to be diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, his hope was to delay the progression of vision loss through a healthy lifestyle. His hobbies and passion, prior to the advancement of RP in his late 40’s, was racing cars and motorcycles. He knew racing at 175 mph could become problematic and it was time to move on. Ralph may have moved on, but he doesn’t seem to have slowed down. His current hobbies include ballroom dancing, health and fitness and being an active member of the entertainment committee at his senior living community. He has recruited longtime friends and acquaintances to put on shows at the community hall. Cannon is Ralph’s first guide dog, and having recently lost total vision in one eye, Ralph is grateful for his new partner.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Cannon is a very good and affectionate dog. He is so well trained – he knows when he is working and is amazing at following commands. Cannon is the first guide dog in my senior living community, so naturally he draws a lot of attention from everyone. Despite the distractions, he performs his job well.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I initially pursued another guide dog school, but when I called, I didn’t find them to be informative. A friend informed me that she donates to Guiding Eyes, so I decided to call. From the get-go they were very cooperative and educated me about taking the first step and applying to the Commission for the Blind in New Jersey. Guiding Eyes was so positive from the very first telephone call.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Cannon has had a tremendous impact on my life. I lost total vision in one eye recently, and I really depend on and trust Cannon 110 percent.”

Were there any training highlights? “Kathryn, my trainer, has taught me that being partially sighted, I should not try to guide Cannon, but allow Cannon to guide me. I had to learn to switch roles and have patience. As a result, I now feel much safer. Also, picking the right places to train in my retirement community presented challenges because of everyone’s interest in Cannon. Now many of my friends understand his role and plan on having a doggy shower for Cannon when he is not working. They have learned to allow Cannon to perform his work.”

Meet Guide Dog Cannon

DOB: 11/13/2019
Tattoo ID:  1C419
Color/Breed: Black/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Venti
Stud: Higgins
Region:  Adirondack
Regional Manager: Kate Gardner
Puppy Raiser:  Kari Parrish & Bernie Corbett
Facebook: Adirondack Puppy Raisers

From 9 weeks old, Cannon was so sweet. He instinctively knew how to be gentle with our older dogs, yet he was able to get the zoomies out of his system. Cannon loved the outdoors, whether it was camping, fishing, or hiking, but was also happy to relax as well. He had fun in the water, but he was more of a lifeguard than a swimmer. He would happily stand perfectly still in chest deep water until he cooled off making us laugh every time. Students in Kari’s 5th Grade classroom loved playing with him and snuggling him. Toward the end of our time with him, he welcomed and taught good manners to our next GEB pup. We are SO proud of the kind, smart, handsome dog Cannon has become. We wish him and his new best friend a wonderful, full, happy life together.

Kari Parrish and Bernie Corbett, Puppy Raisers

Photos of the team…