Special Recognition: Rich and Shamrock’s training was sponsored by the Somer’s Charity Car Show honoring the Veterans, organized by the DeMarco family.
We, the DeMarco family are elated to see a veteran in need receive a guide dog. For the past 6 years, we have hosted a car show in memory of Louis DeMarco, our beloved family member who was a Korean War vet. In hopes to keep his memory alive and give back to the community, we host a non profit show and donate 100% of the proceeds to Guiding Eyes for the Blind. It brings us so much joy to know that we can support our veterans each and every year. We look forward to a successful car show this year, and we thank all of our veterans for their service.
Meet Graduate Rich
Graduate Team: Richard and Shamrock
About the Team: Shamrock, a female black Lab, is Richard’s 2nd guide dog
Location: Runnemede, New Jersey
Training: January 2023 On-Campus
Richard returns for his second guide dog, Shamrock, after the retirement of his previous Guiding Eyes dog. He resides in western New Jersey, not far from the Delaware River and Philadelphia, PA. Richard’s birthday of 2023 will be an occasion to remember, as that was the day he received Shamrock, who he refers to as, “the very best birthday gift”. Richard was born on an air-force base in Topeka, Kanas and grew up in a military family, moving around the country frequently – a self-described military brat. Eventually, he left high school to join the military and train as a Navy diver, and in 1980 was shipped to the Persian Gulf to fight in the Gulf War. In his late thirties, Richard was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, and his vision gradually declined, leaving him with only light perception. His interests are vast, and his vision loss has not kept him from remaining active. He enjoys tandem biking, having previously attended an Olympic Cycling Training Center in Colorado. He also enjoys skiing in the Pocono mountains with a disabled veteran’s organization and is making plans to play blind ice hockey. He also enjoys traveling and visiting new places.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Shamrock is a hard-working guide dog. Every day that we’re together, her ability to follow verbal direction becomes more amazing. She is very independent and almost prances when she is working. She is incredibly aware of her surroundings and avoids puddles, choosing to go around them. She also has great house manners, although I refer to her as the ‘Irish Tornado’ when it comes to her toy box.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Prior to receiving my first dog from Guiding Eyes, I was watching Today and learned about a Guiding Eyes dog named Wrangler. Soon after, I applied with the assistance of the Veterans Association of New Jersey.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It is so much easier and faster to get around. I can rely on Shamrock and have greater confidence, and I really like the feeling of not being alone when traveling. I love having a dog.”
Were there any training highlights? “Meeting my guide dog on my first day was great. The fast pace for a second time handler worked out perfectly. There were three other returning guide dog trainees in my class, and we had lots of fun and laughter every day. All the guide dogs in my group were given nicknames by the class members. Shamrock was given the nickname, Princess, because she mostly liked to watch the fun, and only occasionally instigated it. Shannon and Michelle were my primary instructors; they were great. I had the opportunity to run into Jolene, my past instructor, at graduation. I also met Kelsey Roy, Shamrock’s puppy raiser, as well as the family involved in the car club that sponsored me. The food was great, and I very much appreciated that I didn’t need to cook or clean up the dishes.”
Meet Guide Dog Shamrock
Litter ID: 2S20
Color/Breed: Black/Labrador Retriever
Littermates: Sharon, Sabrina, Seth, Sassy, Sven, Sunshine, Sparky, Sandy, Solomon
Regional Puppy Instructor: Cassie Houghton
Puppy Raiser: Kelsey Roy
Facebook: Fingerlakes Puppy Raisers
From the Puppy Raiser…
Shamrock was the first dog I raised for Guiding Eyes, and I couldn’t have asked for a better pup. She was always incredibly fearless and confident going into any new situation. I never saw her back down from anything (except for that penguin that one time). She is a very quirky and curious lab. She loved to pass her time watching television; her favorite show is 101 Dalmations: Pongo and Perdita’s Sing Along. Shamrock loves to cuddle and find the softest, warmest place to curl up. ~ Kelsey Roy, Puppy Raiser