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Victoria and Colonel

Meet Graduate Victoria

Graduate Victoria and yellow Lab guide dog ColonelJuly Home Training
Graduate Team:  Victoria and Colonel
About the Team:  Colonel, a male yellow Lab, is Victoria’s 5th Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Arvada, Colorado
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Melissa Smith  

Victoria is married and has 2 adult children. She enjoys her career as a massage therapist and is looking forward to returning to her practice with Colonel.  Victoria moved to Colorado during the pandemic and has anxiously been awaiting her new guide. She loves having access to outdoor recreation, including hiking and camping. Victoria got her first guide dog from Guiding Eyes in 1987 and has been a member of the Guiding Eyes family ever since! She served a term on the Guiding Eyes Graduate Council, and as a liaison between the school and graduates, she kept other graduates current and connected to Guiding Eyes through a newsletter. The newsletter included a monthly pill reminder, training “tips and tricks”, instructor bios and even a coveted recipe from the Guiding Eyes campus kitchen!

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Colonel turned 3 the same day we graduated from training. It was both a graduation and a birthday party! While in harness, he is very alert, focused, and good at his job.  I can tell he is always thinking and problem solving.  When he is not working, he is hilarious, cuddly, and attentive. I couldn’t be happier!”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I used to show horses and have always loved animals. I decided having a guide dog would be more fun than a cane. I participated in O&M training in preparation. That was 35 years ago! Today I have Colonel to guide me, and my retired guide Watson is still part of the family too!”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “With my guide dogs I have enjoyed much greater mobility and freedom, resulting in more self-confidence. I attribute my accomplishments and success to having a guide dog. A guide dog also provides social benefits. The public views you differently when you have a dog.  It is much easier to make friends! Overall, Guiding Eyes holds a very special place in my heart. The instructors and guide dogs are amazing. The whole organization is commendable and allows visually impaired people the opportunity to participate in life more fully.”

Were there any training highlights?  “Since I recently moved to Colorado, I decided to participate in Home Training.  I found it very beneficial to target local areas with my new guide dog. I find that each time I train with a dog, I learn something new about myself.  It is important to focus on the big picture and imagine how you and the dog will be working together a year later.  The magic of the match is not an instantaneous event. It is a minute by minute, day by day and layer upon layer of hard work from both parties. Truly the magic is in the meshing.   It takes practice and time to bond.  My trainer Melissa was a highlight! She is both a wonderful person and excellent instructor.  She patiently answered all of my questions. The other highlight of my training was the first time I spoke with Colonel’s puppy raiser. Dawn Harvey is one of the most genuine, kind and caring people I have ever had the privilege to meet. Our bond was instantaneous. The love we both have for Colonel made us friends immediately. I love sending her texts and seeing her getting as much joy out of this journey as I am. It is fun to share with her all of our “firsts” together. Thank you, Dawn, from the bottom of my heart. You’re certainly a part of the Guiding Eyes magic! Finally, I would like to say a special “thank you” to Miranda Beckmann for matching me with Colonel. You did an excellent job!”

Meet Guide Dog Colonel

DOB: 7/16/2019
Litter ID:  2C319
Color/Breed: Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Emerald
Stud: Octane
Littermates: Charles, Cashew, Caeser, Clay, Clinton, Colt, Colleen, Clooney, Clyde, Cam
Region:  Prince William
Regional Manager: Janet Bartolotta
Puppy Raiser: Jane Silek, Dawn Harvey
Facebook: Prince William Puppy Raisers

Colonel was an absolute joy to raise and adored by everyone! He was the sweetest, happiest pup ever and wiggled his whole body with excitement every time he saw his favorite people. He loved to be near us and took every opportunity he could to snuggle (which we loved). Colonel was incredibly responsive and confident, always observing and aware of his surroundings, and enjoyed doing anything, as long as he was with his people. He LOVES to swim and enjoyed many hours swimming in our pool, as well as running in our backyard and taking walks with our Labradors who also adored him. We are thrilled that he is now a Guide and wish he and Victoria a lifetime of wonderful adventures and experiences! “Hooah!”

Dawn Harvey, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the team…