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Richard and Presley

Meet Graduate Richard

Dick and yellow guide dog Presley sit for team portraitGraduate Team: Richard and Presley
About the Team: Presley, a male yellow Lab, is Dick’s 3rd Guiding Eyes dog
Location: Green Valley, Arizona
Training: February Home Training

Dick lives in Arizona with his wife Sharon and guide dog, Presley. In 2005, Dick retired from his role as Director of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and has remained active ever since. He enjoys traveling with his wife to visit their blended family of two sons and two daughters, who live across the United States. Dick has loved playing golf for over forty years, so much so, that he is a former president and current member of the U.S. Blind Golf Association. It was while attending the Guiding Eyes Annual Golf Classic that Dick decided a Guiding Eyes guide dog was in his future. He received his first guide, Tanya, in 2007. Dick likes going for walks in his neighborhood, reading, and is currently the president of his local Lions Club.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Presley is a big, goofy guy. He loves to work and he’s smarter than me. We bonded the first day he came here. Mike, our trainer, could see it right away. Presley follows me around and lays right under my feet. He’s so affectionate, which is great because he loves attention and I love giving attention. His eyes are always on us, and he follows me room to room. He picks up on things really quickly. In the morning I’ll tell him, ‘go find Sharon’, and he’ll take off, touch her with his nose, then come right back for a treat. The first night, when we told him to go find his sleeping place, he went right to his bed. I can’t believe how much I love that little guy and it’s only been a month. There’s just something about the connection with this one.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I decided to apply to Guiding Eyes after having been exposed to the golf classic. I was born legally blind, and went to a school for the blind, so I had been around guide dogs my whole life. I had some sight until I was about 60 years old, and then I lost the rest of it, so I began to think about getting a guide dog, but not too seriously until coming to the golf classic. I knew this was where I wanted to go for my own guide, and 2007 is when I got my first dog.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I think everyone uses the same term: independence, and that’s true, but it wasn’t until I lost the independence of a guide dog for the last 7 months that I really realized what that independence is. With a guide, I can just be a guy who wants to walk to the grocery store. A guide dog allows you to enjoy that freedom with a partner and to feel safe.”

Were there any training highlights?  “A training highlight was working with my instructor, Mike G. I worked with Mike with my last guide, Jiffy, when I was having some issues, so I knew who he was and looked forward to working with him. Mike brought with him an approach and created a training atmosphere that made me think, not so much of being ‘trained’, but of being ‘re-tooled.’ After having a guide dog for 15 years, being re-tooled can be useful. There were some things I learned from him that made such a difference. He helped enable me to better use my dog and to follow my dog. The lessons about understanding how important it is to follow your dog and to understand what the dog is trying to tell you were helpful. Mike started from the very beginning giving me the sense that he was there to help me become a better traveler with my dog, and that made such a difference. His style of training made me feel comfortable and I came away knowing that we learn together how to maximize the new partnership Presley and I were in the process of establishing.”

Meet Guide Dog Presley

DOB:  10/9/2020
Litter ID: 3PP20
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Male
Brood: Raelyn
Stud: Ernest
Littermates: Peanut, Peyton, Pawling
Region:  Bay
Regional Puppy Instructor: Cindy Tait
Puppy Raiser:  David Stenger & Stacy Keith
Facebook: Bay Puppy Raisers

Photos of the Team…