Career Prep for a Special Pup

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Parker, an adorable yellow Labrador retriever, started Spring Semester as an i.d. card-carrying member of the Chesapeake College community. Like many students at Chesapeake, Parker is preparing for a career.

WYE MILLS — Parker, an adorable yellow Labrador retriever, started Spring Semester as an i.d. card-carrying member of the Chesapeake College community. Like many students at Chesapeake, Parker is preparing for a career. With a lot of hard work, he will someday be a Guiding Eyes for the Blind service dog.

At just 4 months old, Parker is already the Big Man on Campus. When he visits the Learning Resource Center or Caroline College Center, conversations ceases and people look up from their electronics. Once the spring weather arrives, Parker is expected to hang out in the Quad between classes.

“He’s pretty popular. The Chesapeake students and employees have given him a warm welcome,” said his trainer Marilyn Evey of Easton, who is a Chesapeake student. “Everyone seems to enjoy seeing him on campus, but they’re all very respectful of the limits required for our training routine.”

The pair are serious about their training, with high behavioral expectations for Parker when he is in uniform. The dog is not petted when he is wearing his training vest. It’s a challenge for most of the humans he encounters, but Parker is learning to be professional.
“It’s natural that people want to pet a friendly dog, but we ask that you wait until his vest is off,” Ms. Evey said. “When I can, I take him out his vest and let him play with people. He is still a puppy, after all.”

Alert and energetic, Parker already follows commands and keeps a close eye on Ms. Evey at all times. This is the second Guiding Eyes puppy that Ms. Evey has trained. She is earning a Technical Studies associate’s degree, so she comes to campus twice a week.

“A college campus is a great place for guide dog training, because he’ll be in a variety of settings throughout the day,” Ms. Evey said. “Everyone at Chesapeake has been wonderful to us, and Parker is having lots of great training opportunities.”

Parker’s semester thus far has included lunch in the college cafeteria, visiting with Chesapeake President Barbara Viniar and exploring the chemistry lab.

In class, Ms. Evey takes at seat at the end of a row, so that Parker can lay quietly in the aisle. If the puppy becomes restless, Ms. Evey gently reminds him to be calm and rewards him with a training treat.

Lengthy college classes can challenge the patience of many, and Parker is no exception.
“His greatest challenge is getting through the class time. Three hours is a long time for a puppy to be still, but he is doing his best,” Ms. Evey said.

For information about Chesapeake College, log on to www.chesapeake.edu. For information about Guiding Eyes log on to www.GuidingEyes.org

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