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Shannon and MacGyver

Meet Graduate Shannon

Shannon and her yellow  Lab guide dog MacGyver sit for their team portraitGraduate Team: Shannon and MacGyver
About the Team: MacGyver, a male yellow lab, is Shannon’s 1st guide dog
Location: Bentonville, Arkansas
Training: March 2024 On-Campus

Shannon is a graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. She has a professional background in public relations and previously worked in public involvement for engineering firms. Shannon and her husband have a four-year-old son and a 7-year-old mini Goldendoodle, and currently, she is working as a stay-at-home mom. Shannon is a supporter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. She is also a member of Bentonville’s Mayor’s Community Council.  She enjoys listening to audiobooks and occasionally writes in her free time. She also loves active activities such as hiking, rock climbing, yoga, and gardening. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “You know he’s having a good time in harness when he’s bouncy and fast. Sometimes it’s like being on a ride when walking with him. Out of harness, he’s playful. He raids the toy box and runs around with toys in his mouth. MacGyver’s extremely attentive and always seems like he’s on alert, even out of harness. It’s a great quality to have in a guide dog. He’s a good problem solver. A quirk about him is he doesn’t like puddles, so he usually figures out a way to get around them even if it’s fairly complicated.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I walk a lot and I knew that I would feel safer crossing the street with a guide dog. Walking with a guide dog is much more efficient and fluid than walking with a cane, and it’s given me so much confidence. When I applied, I wanted a dog for safety reasons and that fluidity of not having to use my cane to identify obstacles. I specifically wanted a guide dog from Guiding Eyes because of the Running Dogs program, since I walk 6-8 miles. I thought it was more likely to be matched with a fast dog who could keep up with my long days. I also liked the post-graduation support and positive training approach.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s the confidence -because it’s amazing how he takes away some of the extra stress of navigating. He can find things so fast. We went to an art museum with my son the other day and he’s never been there, but he found the elevator without me directing him. MacGyver intuitively figured it out and it was great. It makes me a more positive person when I’m not stressing out about trying to find things. Another day, my husband and I went upstairs inside a bar that I’d never been to before. We got up to leave and I didn’t know how to get to the stairs. I told him, ‘To the steps.’ and he figured it out. It saved me several minutes and the added stress of possibly bumping into someone.”

Were there any training highlights? “Learning to work with a guide dog is a big adjustment; it’s learning a completely different style of walking. Everyone at Guiding Eyes is so patient and kind, and I never felt bad for making a mistake or having to redo things. I loved working individually with my trainer, who is also named Shannon. Working with Shannon on routes improved my confidence, and I felt like I was able to learn a lot. It was cool that Guiding Eyes tailors the training to our needs. For example, we don’t have a train In Bentonville, so I was able to practice on a dirt path and shoreline instead of training at the train platform. It was awesome to have that opportunity.” 

Meet Guide Dog MacGyver

DOB:  8/7/2021
Litter ID: 5MM21
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Promise
Stud: Shadow
Littermates: Merrie, Mandy, Macro, Merijul
Region:  Erie NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: Cassie Houghton
Puppy Raiser:  The Preve Family
Facebook: Erie NY Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

MacGyver is the most joyful soul we have ever met! Through thick and thin he approached everything with great enthusiasm and a positive attitude, whether he was pouncing on his favorite toys, exploring Home Depot, or mastering staircases. We are so very happy that he will be able to share not only his joie de vivre, but also his intelligence, drive and love with someone, as they start an exciting new chapter together. He will always hold a very special place in our hearts! ~Meredith and Melinda Preve 

Photos of the Team…