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Ronnie and Flower

Meet Graduate Ronnie

Ronnie and black Lab guide dog Flower sit head to head for the team portraitGraduate Team: Ronnie and Flower
About the Team: Flower, a female black Lab, is Ronnie’s 1st guide dog
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Training: March 2023 On-Campus

Ronnie was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He attended Minneapolis Community and Technical College, receiving his associate degree in human services. Ronnie is employed by State Services for the Blind of Minnesota, working in customer service for the Talking Book Library. Since early childhood, Retinitis Pigmentosa has caused night blindness, and now Ronnie has minimal remaining vision and relies on adaptive devices to read. He has been married for twenty years to his wife, Chantha, who works as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the State of Minnesota and is also a guide dog user. Ronnie and Chantha are parents to five boys ranging in age from 7 to 19 years old. Ronnie’s hobbies and interests include reading, walking, and sports video games. He and his family are animal lovers who care for several pets. Flower is Ronnie’s first guide dog.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Flower has frequent short bursts of energy and loves to play. She is very intuitive, knowing what I want to do, and is ready when I am ready. She picks up on things quite easily.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I was looking around at a number of guide dog schools, including the one where my wife received her guide dog. I selected Guiding Eyes because I heard good things about their dogs and program. Their veterinarian services and support for their guides was a big plus, as you can imagine for a family that also has multiple pets. When I learned about their smaller class size and their personalized training, the decision to go with Guiding Eyes was easy.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Having Flower encourages me to go outside and travel more. She provides me with so much more confidence when I am outside alone. I walk a lot faster to get where I need to go. I am much more motivated, and getting to work via the bus and train is a lot easier.”

Were there any training highlights? “My training included traveling to the City of White Plains and eating a cannoli for the first time. Also, the drive and desire that Flower had when we approached an escalator during training gave me so much confidence. She is so willing to please and it’s motivating to be with her. Michelle was my primary instructor, and she was very attentive to my needs. The entire amazing and caring staff, all went above and beyond all expectations to make me and my classmates comfortable.”

Meet Guide Dog Flower

DOB:  12/22/2020
Litter ID: 2F320
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Mercy
Stud: Dasher
Littermates: Fairlee, Forest, Florie, Fay, Fanta, Fulton
Region:  Leatherstocking, NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: MeKalea Chambliss
Puppy Raiser:  Kelly Martin
Facebook: Leatherstocking NY Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Flower is a determined, sweet, loyal and take-charge girl. She grew up on our farm surrounded by cows, dogs, and a cat, and came to work with me at SUNY Oneonta daily. She got to interact with many students, faculty, and staff across campus. She was a leader in our home and is missed by our goldens Oakley and Gunner. She had great mentors in her fellow Guiding Eyes for the Blind dogs (Tate- current guide and Addie- Medical Release), whom she got to play with often. The most enjoyable thing about raising Flower was being part of the Guiding Eyes community and the both of us learning together what it takes to be a guide dog. I wish Flower and her handler many happy years together and hope she brings as much joy to your home and life as she did to ours! ~ Kelly Martin

Photos of the Team…