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Robert and Artemis

Meet Graduate Robert

Robert smiles as he and black Lab guide dog Artemis sit for their team portraitGraduate Team: Robert and Artemis
About the Team: Artemis is a male, black Lab and Robert’s 1st guide dog
Location: Toronto, Canada
Training: March 2024 On-Campus

Robert lives in Toronto, where he was born and raised. Robert has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from the University of Windsor. For the last 30 years, he has run his own business, working from home, importing medical device textiles for hospitals. He has been married for thirty-seven years to his wife, Cheryl. They have one adult daughter, Olivia, who resides in New York City, and they enjoy traveling to visit her frequently. He was diagnosed eight years ago with Retinitis Pigmentosa, although he began losing his vision earlier in life. He has no peripheral vision and limited central vision. His past interests included playing ice hockey. He enjoys tooling around with his guitar and Blues and R&B music. Although he grew up with dogs, Artemis is his first guide dog. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Artemis was a little older than most other guide dogs when I received him. He is an extraordinary working dog. He has a very strong working personality when wearing his harness. When off the harness he loves to play, and he is very affectionate. He becomes just a regular pet dog. He loves people and visiting with family and friends and is always well-behaved. He is very smart and so well trained. He is very adaptable to new routes and is not distracted by anything.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I applied during the Covid pandemic, to three schools located in Canada.  All three were unable to help as they were backed up with requests. An employee in a local low-vision clinic spoke very highly of Guiding Eyes and highly recommended them. My experience from my very first call was absolutely positive. They conducted a site visit at my home and community. They have been nothing short of amazing. Their aftercare, follow-up, and post in-class training, show that they really are dedicated and want their clients to succeed. I am a board member for the agency, Vision Loss Rehabilitation of Canada (VLRC). I now share my positive experience with other board members and staff.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I am more confident and assured leaving my house when running errands. My wife also feels more assured that I will get to my destinations safely.”

Were there any training highlights? “During training, traveled to New York City with Dan, my trainer. There was one encounter on the Upper East Side in which the sidewalk suddenly turned into a plywood tunnel. It was painted black with limited lighting, and it zig-zagged under a construction site. Artemis, without hesitation, zipped through the tunnel with me by his side, like he had done this route twenty times before. Dan said Artemis had never experienced anything like it before in training and was amazed with Artemis.”

Meet Guide Dog Artemis

DOB:  10/2/2021
Litter ID: 8A321
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Coco
Stud: Darren
Littermates: Archie, Aladdin, Alonzo, Amtrak, Aura, Autumn, Annabelle
Region:  Central NY, Baltimore
Regional Puppy Instructor: MeKalea Chambliss, Jeanyne Gembarski
Puppy Raiser:  The Oonk Family, Deb & Rick Seltzer
Facebook: Central NY Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Baltimore Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

I am so happy I was able to be a part of Artemis’s guide dog journey. As a puppy, Artemis was smart, intrepid, and always a happy ball of energy. His puppy antics were sure to entertain! All the Guiding Eyes puppies that come through my home are special, but it was especially gratifying to know Artemis’s next leg of his journey would be taken with my daughter as his finishing raiser. Wishing “Team Artemis” many safe and happy adventures as they embark on their new journey together. ~ Mary Oonk

Artemis is a sweet, lovable pup who is always up for an adventure! We had so much fun raising him and watching him grow. He was very confident and was equally comfortable at busy community festivals and quiet libraries. At home, he loved to play tug or fetch but was also happy to curl up at our feet while we worked. Artemis loves everyone and helped us experience the world from a new perspective. Sending best wishes for this next phase together! ~ Deb and Rick Seltzer

Photos of the Team…