Graduate Team Ryan and Topper

 In 2021 Graduations, Graduations, News & Events

Meet July Residential Training Graduate Ryan

Graduate Team:  Ryan and Topper
About the Team: Topper, a male black Lab, is Ryan’s 3rd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Chevy Chase, Maryland
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Shanon Walsh

Ryan is originally from Illinois and graduated from North Central College, where he majored in Broadcast Communications.  He is employed by Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, as a Section 508 auditor.  Ryan currently works for the VA in downtown Washington, D.C. auditing software for accessibility and compliance with standards. (Section 508 requires federal agencies to ensure their information and services are accessible to persons with disabilities.)   He enjoys traveling to Illinois to visit family.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Topper is a 2 ½ year old black Lab.  He is both very playful and very hardworking.  He is a quick learner and likes to “target” things at my request.  When he’s not working, Topper loves to carry around his toys and play keep away!  Topper and I work daily on learning familiar routes and growing as a team.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “My relationship with Guiding Eyes began when I was 16 and first visited the school.  I was encouraged to apply for a dog prior to going to college.  I received my first guide at 18 and worked with him just over a year.  Unfortunately, a medical issue required him to retire, however Guiding Eyes was very supportive throughout and provided me with Irby shortly after.  Irby was a wonderful guide who worked with me for 10 ½ years. Irby is now back in Maine with his puppy raiser enjoying retirement.  Guiding Eyes continues to impress me; from the quality of the dogs to the excellent training and continuous support.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Having a guide dog makes it so much easier to get around and navigate my way, especially in places like airports.  A cane requires a high level of constant concentration.  A guide dog allows me to be a bit more relaxed and to walk with confidence.”

Were there any training highlights? “Everyone at Guiding Eyes ensures a great experience during training and is very nice and accommodating.  I really liked training in White Plains.  It is a city similar in size to my home environment and therefore representative of my daily routine.   Due to COVID, the class size was much smaller this time.  Although I did miss meeting and interacting with the number of students in a typical class, Guiding Eyes did a good job modifying the training.  The smaller class size offered lots of dedicated training time with my instructor Shanon.  I learned and practiced the ‘touch’ method with Topper.  This method does not require me to use a clicker and I find being ‘hands-free’ easier when holding the harness.”

Meet Guide Dog Topper

  • DOB: 3/10/2019
  • Dog ID: 5T19
  • Color/Breed: Black Labrador Retriever
  • Gender:  Male
  • Brood:  Dallas
  • Stud:   Wallace
  • Littermates:  Tilly, Teagan, Tacoma, Todd, Trixie
  • Region:  Richmond
  • Regional Manager:  Jodi Haveles
  • Puppy Raiser:   Jordan Moore
  • Facebook:  Guiding Eyes Richmond Puppy Raisers
Guide dog Topper

Topper came bounding into our home at 8 weeks old. He was exuberant, smart, and had the cutest head tilt. I knew from the first week he was destined to be a working dog. We discovered early on that Topper is a natural swimmer and loved the water. During our time together we enjoyed many notable outings. We visited the local fire station, airport, the air and space museum, and even US Capitol, but nothing could compare to Topper standing right next to me as my finance proposed. Topper loved being a big brother to GEB Marc and couldn’t get enough cuddle time. I have learned more from my time with Topper, than with any of my other 9 GEB pups. He is incredibly handsome, smart, and determined. I could not be more proud of how hard we worked and how far he has come. I wish Topper and Ryan many years of success and friendship.

Jordan Moore, Puppy Raiser of Topper

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

Meet our other recent guide dog team graduates. Click here!

Friends and Family:  Watch this video to learn more about  Working with a Guide Dog Team.

Graduate Angela and guide dog AbbieGrad Joseph and guide Maui