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Travis and Francisco

Meet Graduate Travis

Travis sits happily on an outdoor bench with arm around yellow lab guide dog Francisco, also smilingGraduate Team:  Travis and Francisco
About the Team:  Francisco, a male yellow Labrador, is Travis’ 1st guide dog
Location:  St. Joseph, Missouri
Training: September 2023 Home Training

Travis is a busy dad of two teenage boys, who tragically lost his sight in a hunting accident in 2008. Despite the challenges he faced, through determination, a great attitude, and a lot of hard work, he built a successful business as a wholesale car parts distributor. Travis buys and restores cars, and with his supportive brother by his side, he is still able to enjoy motor sports as a hobby. Travis is involved in the Audio Reader Network at the University of Kansas. The accessible audio recordings of car and machine periodicals have allowed him to stay current in both his hobby and business. In addition to benefitting from the audio materials, Travis has worked with the organization, giving back as a speaker and a fundraiser. Guide dog Francisco has joined the family and made Travis’ accomplishments all the sweeter.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Francisco, or ‘Cisco’ as I call him, is the greatest thing that could have happened to me since losing my vision!  He has the best personality. When he is not working, he is very playful, affectionate, and cuddly.  Working or not, Cisco never leaves my side and has become an important part of my family.  He has captured the hearts of everyone he meets.  Everyone loves him; from my 93-year-old grandfather to my teenage sons, to my young nieces and nephew.  I am looking forward to Cisco guiding me next month on a trip to Branson with my extended family.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “When I realized a guide dog would reduce my dependency on my cane, I decided to explore getting a dog.  A local friend with a guide dog gave me a list of guide dog schools, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind was the first and only school I called.  From the first phone call, I felt a connection to Guiding Eyes and immediately began the application process.  At no time during the process did I question whether I had chosen the right school.  My trainer Nikki and Cisco’s puppy raisers have done an amazing job. I am happy to be part of the Guiding Eyes family.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I love how quickly and confidently I can get around with Cisco!  What was a 10-minute walk, has become a 4-minute walk. It is as if he is asking me, ‘How fast do you want to go?’.  It is such a nice change from having to walk slowly with a cane. Although I have only had him for a short time, it has been a life changing experience.  With Francisco and my ability to learn new and evolving technologies, I will continue to remove limitations and barriers from my life.”

Were there any training highlights? Working with the staff at Guiding Eyes, we determined Home Training would be best for me.  My hometown is a rural city.  It has grown quickly and is busy but lacks helpful infrastructure such as sidewalks and audible walk signals. A highlight was meeting my trainer Nikki and Cisco! Nikki taught me so much and continues to be a wonderful resource. I also met Cisco’s puppy raisers. He was the first puppy they raised, and I am so grateful for the time they invested in him.”

Meet Guide Dog Francisco

DOB:  4/24/2020
Litter ID: 7FF20
Color/Breed: Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Erin
Stud: Yarmouth
Littermates: Fantasia, Fatima, Fairfax, Faustina, Fender
Region:  Capital NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: Kate Gardner
Puppy Raiser:  Shawn Nethaway & Cynthia DiDonna-Nethaway
Facebook: Capital NY Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Francisco is a sweet and loveable puppy that has a great smile and is eager to learn. Francisco loved riding in the car going for walks and going to church. He loves attention and just wants to be by your side no matter where he is. He was raised in our house with our other two dogs, Dacks and Zander, as well Luna our blind cat. He was the best thing for our family during the pandemic.  ~Shawn Nethaway and Cindy DiDonna-Nethaway 

Photos of the Team…