Tatyanna and Merlin

Thank you to our generous January Graduates Sponsor…

In memory of my wife, Barbara Woods, who loved dogs and Guiding Eyes. Through our entire marriage, we have had dogs, usually two at a time, and enjoyed them! Sponsoring the graduating class is a perfect way to honor her memory.

– Richard Woods

Meet Graduate Tatyanna

Graduate Tatyanna & yellow guide dog MerlinGraduate Team: Tatyanna and Merlin
About the Team:  Merlin, a male yellow Lab, is Tatyanna’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Belair, Maryland
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Shannon McGee   
January On-Campus Training

Tatyanna comes to Guiding Eyes for her first guide dog. She has a love of music and singing, performing cover songs on her YouTube channel.  Her favorite musical genres are Country and Hip Hop. Tatyanna enjoys writing her own original songs and hopes to share some of those songs soon. Much like her gift for songwriting, she also enjoys writing poems. Tatyanna is an animal lover with a goal of becoming a veterinary technician. She is planning to enroll in a training program in the spring, where she will prepare for a job working with animals.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Merlin will be 3 years old in April and he is very sweet.  He is confident and hardworking when he is in his harness and has received many compliments when we are out.  At home, Merlin is very calm and enjoys napping in his downtime! It’s very special that he was named by Eli Manning and his family.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I have been totally blind since I was 7 years old.  I knew I eventually wanted a guide dog and spent time researching various schools.  A friend of mine got his guide dog from Guiding Eyes and ultimately I selected Guiding Eyes based on his recommendation.”

 How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “I feel so much safer and secure traveling with Merlin.  I am more independent and really feel as if I can do anything!  I walk longer distances and venture further from home than I ever would while using a cane.  The flight home after training felt a little surreal.  I kept reaching down and checking to make sure Merlin was still there. I actually fell asleep briefly and woke up wondering if it was all a dream!”

Were there any training highlights? “Training was a wonderful experience. The first day I met Merlin was amazing and very emotional. I quickly learned to trust him as we practiced traffic checks. I learned to follow Merlin’s lead, stopping when he stops and backing up when he does. My safety is literally in his paws! The training was well tailored to my suburban lifestyle, as we ventured out and explored the towns surrounding Guiding Eyes.”

Meet Guide Dog Merlin

Special Recognition: Merlin was special named by the Manning Family. Click to read and watch a video about the Mannings and Merlin’s litter.

Merlin was the first puppy I raised, and, boy, did I get lucky. He was a wonderful puppy with a calm demeanor and laid-back personality, who slept through the night right away and took to his crate nicely. He didn’t get overly excited about much, which was a good thing since there are quite a few dogs at my house on any given day. On an outing to introduce the pups to the Worchester Regional Airport, he breezed through security.   We all sat in a row in the terminal with the dogs in a down under our chairs, while people and other dogs walked or ran by. Merlin peacefully slept under my chair. He was great in restaurants where he would just sleep. He even joined me for dinner on a train and the other customers didn’t know he was there. At Halloween Merlin had no problem being dressed up in a costume that included a tin can and a bottle hung on his back. I got spoiled by having Merlin as my first dog. I am thrilled that he has been matched and I’m sure he will make his new person proud. It truly does take a village to raise a service dog, and everyone involved should be commended. Thank you everyone for all you do.

Wendy Savino, of Puppy Raiser Merlin


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