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Rene and Yonder

Meet Graduate Rene

Rene sits with black Lab guide dog Yonder for their team portraitGraduate Team: Rene and Yonder
About the Team: Yonder, a male black Lab, is Rene’s 2nd guide dog
Location: Taunton, Massachusetts
Training:  December 2023 On-Campus

Rene is enjoying his retirement, starting each morning by walking a mile with Yonder, then returning home and taking his wife out for lunch. He’s an U.S. Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War, and has an associate degree in business management, earned by attending night school in addition to his working hours. Rene enjoys listening to mystery books and getting out as much as he can. He and his wife live in a 55+ community now, with Yonder and his wife’s Chihuahua, but their son and daughter both live less than 10 minutes away. They are very close with their children and see them every week. Rene enjoys talking to his daughter every day.

How would you describe your guide dog? “He’s been to restaurants and does well. I tell him the command ‘close’ and he’s under my chair until I give him the next command. I can walk him through a restaurant without him bothering anybody, and if he does get distracted, I’ll tell him ‘Leave it’, then continue on. Once that harness comes off, he likes to lounge on my recliner. He has his own couch and comfortable bed, but he gets into mine. When I put my recliner up, he hops up and watches TV with me.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Guiding Eyes is the best in the world. They treat you like you’re a king with a red carpet, that’s how nice they are. I would not go anywhere else. They are so attentive and nice to people, it’s unbelievable. If the whole world could watch Guiding Eyes for one week and adhere to what they’re doing, this whole world would be a better place.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I feel so much safer. When my guide Ocho retired, I went 5 weeks using my cane, and I feel so much safer with Yonder than I ever did with my cane. He’s so good; he’s so attentive.”

Were there any training highlights? “The two trainers I had were attentive to everyone in class. The instructions were so specific and easy to follow, and they did a phenomenal job personalizing training. Like I said, I have nothing but good things to say about them. My balance hasn’t been good since my neuropathy kicked in, and Guiding Eyes found me a dog to help me with that. Yonder was the exact dog that I needed.”

Meet Guide Dog Yonder

DOB:  9/23/2021
Litter ID: 2YY21
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Male
Brood: Kyra
Stud: Enrico
Littermates: Yeti, Yorktown, Yara, Yin, Yang
Region:  Monroe NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: MeKalea Chambliss
Puppy Raiser:  The Odhiambo Family

From the Puppy Raiser…

Yonder loves everyone. He does not discriminate between species. If you move, he wants to know you. About halfway through his time in our home, my mom, who visited every week, mentioned that we needed to make sure to let her know before he leaves because he was especially attached to her and would be sad if they didn’t say goodbye. I hated to break it to her, but Yonder loves everyone as much as he loves her. They did get their goodbye, but Yonder is much more interested in hellos. He was ALWAYS up for an adventure. Yonder learned new skills quickly, but always put his own stamp on them. I teach in an elementary school, and had a few students who told me they really didn’t like dogs, but Yonder won them over and is still requested at school often. We loved watching Yonder grow and learn and are even more excited that he will continue to grow and learn as a guide dog and companion, and most importantly to him, meet everyone. ~ The Odhiambo Family, Puppy Raisers

Photos of the Team…