Graduate Team Taylor and Zeke

 In 2021 Graduations, Graduations, News & Events

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 May Residential Training Graduate Taylor

Graduate Taylor and guide dog Zeke happily sit on a bench togetherGraduate Team: Taylor and Zeke
About the Team: Zeke, a male yellow Lab, is Taylor’s 1st Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown: Cockeysville, Maryland
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Lori Busse

Taylor is a busy stay-at-home mom of an active family. They love to be outdoors, whether enjoying picnics or taking walks. Taylor and her husband Jeremy would like to get into hiking, an activity she predicts guide dog Zeke will enjoy. The family often attends her daughter’s extracurricular activities together, and normally would be attending more school functions, were it not for Covid. After living in the Midwest, Taylor and her husband are still finding their place in Maryland, having settled there in the midst of the pandemic. She looks forward to things opening up more so she can get back to doing what she likes to do, such as going to the gym or attending church regularly. After months of shopping online, Taylor admits her favorite thing to do these days is going to stores with Zeke and shopping in person.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Zeke is very smart. He anticipates what we’re going to do before we do it. We practice the same routes, but sometimes when out walking with the family in our neighborhood, we’ll take a spontaneous route. We may have only done it one time before because we’re not really going anywhere, but he knows what direction we went the first time. It’s as if he’s saying, ‘We went this way before, isn’t that where you want to go?’ I love that he remembers that and he’s thinking of the next steps all the time. He also has a quirky and playful side when he’s out of harness. He’s a big Labrador, but sometimes he seems to think he’s a lapdog.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “One of the reasons I chose Guiding Eyes specifically was because I really appreciate the positive reinforcement techniques that this school is fully invested in. Instead of the older, traditional techniques, this style makes me comfortable that I’ll have more of a bond with my dog. Zeke wants to work and is so excited when he sees me take his harness and treat pouch out. It makes me feel good that he wants to help me.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I feel more confident that, not only do I know where I’m going, but Zeke has an idea of where we’re going too. I can move faster and feel more like a sighted person instead of feeling out every step with my cane. I feel like we move naturally and in sync, so when I’m traveling and going places, I feel better overall. I also love his companionship when I go out. I’m not as anxious because I know he’s there and I have back up.”

Were there any training highlights? “I definitely loved the residential experience and was so happy I got to be there in person. My instructor was Lori and I just loved her, because I think we had complimenting personalities. Sometimes it seemed we were thinking the same things and that helped me feel confident and comfortable with how I felt as a handler, while learning Zeke. I loved being on campus; everyone there was super nice and welcoming, so it was such a great, amazing, positive experience overall.”

Meet Guide Dog Zeke

  • DOB:  3/31/19
  • Tattoo ID:  3Z19
  • Color/Breed: Yellow Labrador Retriever
  • Gender: Male
  • Brood: Aloe
  • Stud:  Garcia
  • Littermates: Ziva, Zeus, Zander, Ziggy, Zeta
  • Region: Wayne County
  • Regional Manager:  Joy Hawksby/MeKalea Chambliss
  • Puppy Raiser: Paul and Cindy Swift
  • Facebook:  Guiding Eyes Wayne County Puppy Raisers
Guide dog Zeke

Zeke’s progress was followed by a Pathfinder Society Member – someone who remembered Guiding Eyes in their estate plans received reports and photos of him from puppyhood. He was named Zeke through contribution of a special gift by Gordon and Diana Tracz.

Zeke was the perfect pup for my family and me to raise! Zeke was willing to spend time and work with anyone. He was gentle and calm with my grandchildren and ready to go and meet the challenges with my husband. Zeke enjoyed going to the horse barn with me, watching me ride and staying entertained by all the other horses. Zeke especially liked to go to the Christmas tree farm, where we could hike the 130 acres, cross country ski during the winter and swim in the creek during the warmer weather. What I admired most about Zeke was his eye contact and calm demeanor. Yes, he can get overexcited and need friendly reminders, but he responds and tries to please! Zeke traveled with me without concern. We flew Delta to Atlanta as well as traveled by car, staying in hotels along the way. Zeke was the perfect puppy to introduce new raisers to Guiding Eyes puppy raising program. I hope Zeke will provide you with the companionship and responsibilities you need in a guide dog!

Cindy Swift, Puppy Raiser of Zeke

Enjoy these photos of the team and Zeke 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.

The official logo for charity partners of the 2021 NYC Marathon.Graduate Gero and guide dog Gilbert