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Ryan and Levi

Meet Home Training Graduate Ryan

Graduate Ryan and guide dog Levi take a break from trainingGraduate Team: Ryan and Levi
About the Team: Levi, a male yellow Lab, is Ryan’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  South Jordan, Utah
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Michael Goehring

Ryan works in the IT field as a Technical Recruiter. He and his wife are the busy parents of four boys, ages 13, 9, 5, and 4 months. He is dedicated to remaining as independent as possible by staying active and was drawn to Guiding Eyes upon hearing of the Running Guides Program. Besides running, Ryan enjoys other outdoor activities, like walking or camping and hiking with his boys and their Scout troop. Levi, the unofficial troop mascot, fits right in and has made these activities even more enjoyable. In his downtime, Ryan also reads a lot of books and enjoys watching movies and playing board games with his kids.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “He’s been really great for me. Has been an exceptionally well behaved dog, even in situations where I would have expected he might act out. When I injured my knee and he wasn’t able to work as much, he was still was an angel anyway. He likes to follow me around the house, and he really loves his crate, which really surprised me! He likes to go to bed on time and sometimes tries to herd me in that direction to let me know it’s bedtime.  He really likes his routine.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “It was because of the Running Guides Program. I was getting around fine with a cane, as far as routine travel, so I didn’t really feel the need for a dog until I figured out that I could be running again. It’s really great. My wife and a few other people were willing to run with me, but it was hard to coordinate schedules. Levi is always ready to go; he loves it and will go at a moment’s notice and with great enthusiasm.  It’s more fun to go out with someone you know really wants to be there at that moment and isn’t trying to do you a favor. We’ve been able to go out hiking and stuff too. I’m an assistant scoutmaster for a local troop and he’s been great. It’s so much easier to hike trails and do outdoor activities with him, instead of the cane that gets tangled in the underbrush.   He has really enjoyed it and has become the mascot of our little scout troop. They love him and he’s always excited to see them all, too.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It has made it so I can enjoy being outside more. I had been pretty determined not to let my blindness keep me from doing what mattered to me, but travelling with the cane, I felt I had to sweat every detail.  When I’m walking with Levi, I still have to pay attention to where I am, but it’s more like watching the big picture, rather than watching for every crack.  It lets me enjoy my walks a lot more because I can be thinking of other stuff; it’s a lot more relaxing that way. It’s made more of a difference than I thought it would. It’s much more enjoyable to go places.”

Were there any training highlights? “One of the things that really impressed me was the first time I tried to give him a treat during our training. I dropped it on the sidewalk and Levi just left it there. I was like, how is that even possible? He didn’t chase it; he just let it fall and stood there waiting for me to do something. That really impressed me.”

Meet Guide Dog Levi

Levi is a strong and independent boy, but he loves to make his handler happy. He has a lot of energy and is always excited to participate in any activity, but also happy to relax and settle down. Levi could work with any person and always transitioned smoothly to a new handler. He knew his job and was happy to do it no matter what the situation. Our favorite outings were to New Hampshire. Levi loved walking around all of the shops in North Conway and hiking in the mountains. He was always up for an adventure and loved exploring new places. Levi also loved the water. Together we would go paddle boarding and he would always jump right off the board to swim around and then get back on. Levi could brighten anyone’s day with his big goofy smile and his radiant excitement. With Levi, there is never a dull moment. While I have worked with and raised many dogs, Levi truly wins the perfect pup award in my heart. Levi was smart, goofy, energetic yet calm, intuitive, and always ready to please. Each day with Levi was a blessing and I am so glad I was able to be a part of his upbringing. Ryan and Levi will make the perfect pair and I wish them the best of luck on their adventures in life!

Rebecca Provensal, Puppy Raiser of Levi

Enjoy these photos of the team and Levi as a pup on program…