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Sadie and Legend

Thank you to our generous May Graduates Sponsor…

“The University of Rhode Island Puppy Raisers Club wishes the graduate teams good luck in their new partnerships!”

Meet Home Training Graduate Sadie

Graduate Sadie and guide dog Legend sit among the tulips and a bright painted wallGraduate Team: Sadie and Legend
About the Team: Legend, a male yellow Lab, is Sadie’s 1st Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Gorham, Maine
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Chrissy Vetrano

Sadie is employed by the Maine Department of Labor, working as a receptionist at one of their career centers. Sadie and wife Colleen share two teenage sons, age 16 and 14, so they spend a lot of time at the soccer field, when not caring for their home and flowerbeds. Sadie is on the board for Pride Portland, a volunteer run organization honoring and raising awareness of the LGBTQ+ community and is the accessibility lead on the advisory board. While navigating life during the pandemic and without a guide dog, Sadie was spending more time at home and adopted rock tumbling as a new hobby. She enjoys learning about the hardness and other qualities of different types of rocks, and the techniques for smoothing them. She entertains plans of crafting them into jewelry and selling them online, so others can enjoy them too.  One of Sadie’s most beloved activities is hiking the great trails available near her Maine home, especially now that with Legend, she is able to enjoy them independently.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Legend is an amazing dog.  When he is out of harness, he’s so silly and will wiggle his way right into your heart.  You just can’t help but love him. He gets along with the family dog, Happy, and is a friend to everyone he meets.  He loves to play, and once, while on a trail adjacent to a ballfield, he found a baseball in the brush.  He couldn’t keep it, but he was so proud to show it off. When working, his intuition is awesome. If I catch a toe and stumble slightly, he turns his head to check in, as if to say, ‘Are we good? You okay?’ and keeps going when he knows I am.  If we are on a hiking trail, each time we get to a steep downhill section, he’ll stop and wait for me to take a couple of steps. Once satisfied I’m aware of the slope, he’ll continue.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “My job sharing situation is with Guiding Eyes graduate Chris, who has guide Rico, and I’ve seen what great dogs he has received. My two previous dogs were from another school, but the Guiding Eyes program was better suited to my current needs and it came highly recommended. I like that this school embraces technology to make things easier for those with vision loss. The online application process is great and easy to navigate. I didn’t even need sighted assistance.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “It’s hard to put into words; it’s the freedom, the independence and the confidence it brings. There’s this trust that happens – that bond and relationship that forms with this dog.  It really is a team; I’m not alone, so I’m more confident to try something new. Legend has given me the ability to go on trails by myself, when my wife isn’t able to go. Especially after being isolated during the pandemic, it’s so great to have access to such great outdoorsy things, in this wonderful spot that I live in.  It’s so valuable to get outside during a lunch break – mentally and physically. And then the companionship and affection; it’s nice to have that as well. I love that.”

Were there any training highlights? “I love using the new style Unifly handles; discovering that was such an epiphany!  Chrissy, my instructor, was a great sport and I’m so thrilled I got to know her. She would say, ‘tell me what you need’.  She made sure we could do the trails and we saw that Legend loves being on them. When applying, I said I wanted a dog that’s a great worker, but is affectionate and has personality. It was clear early on that Legend is that dog.”

Meet Guide Dog Legend

From the get-go, Legend was a big, confident, goofy, happy, energetic and enthusiastic blur of yellow fur. He was always ready for an outing, a lesson, a walk and any experience that engaged his eager to learn mind. Legend quickly adapted to the very stimulating environment of our 2-dog household and soon became the chief instigator of playtime. Only moderately interested in treats, his real source of motivation was verbal praise and gentle touch. A smart fast learner who loved to work, he was our rough diamond who worked really hard to develop impulse control, resist distractions, and polish himself up into guide dog material. Legend was a joy to raise and train. We are so delighted that all his hard work paid off and he is now a working guide, fulfilling his potential and partnering with Sadie. We wish them all the best in their life ahead.

From the Puppy Raiser (finishing) of Legend

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