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Q&A with Seeing Eye grad Cedric

By The Seeing Eye

Cedric with his arm around his dog Eric, a yellow Lab/golden retriever cross in harness, in their official Seeing Eye portrait.

Tell us a little about yourself:
I live in Mesa, Arizona with my wife, our kids, two pet dogs (a Shih Tzu and a Bichon Poodle mix), and of course my Seeing Eye® dog Eric. I work at Arizona State University as an Accessibility Consultant in the Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services department. We take textbooks and course materials and make them accessible.

Describe your daily routine:
I get up at 5 every morning, get myself ready then take Eric out, feed him, brush his teeth and coat. We leave the house at 6:45 for our commute, which includes a walk and a bus ride. Eric has a mat, a blanket, and a couple toys at my office. We go to the park around 10 am, but otherwise he sleeps most of the day. Then we head home and have dinner. I’m enrolled at the University of Arizona for my Masters in Legal Studies, and I do homework in the evening. Eric’s usually by my desk — he’s always been good about that.

What made you want to get a Seeing Eye® dog?
I was a cane user for many years. I know there are a lot of really competent cane travelers. But for me, cane travel is slow. It’s a lot of mental energy — figuring out what it is the cane hits, figuring out how to get around obstacles.

My mentor is another Seeing Eye graduate — she’s the one who really convinced me. She told me I’d be an excellent guide dog handler, since I’m precise about things and keep to a schedule.

And the fact that The Seeing Eye is the oldest guide dog school in the country — that mattered to me. They pioneered the training techniques and methods. I know The Seeing Eye will be there for whatever I may need in the future.

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What was it like meeting Eric for the first time?
Dog Day is like no other day. That morning, we had a lecture…and all the students knew the instructors were making the final match decisions. That anticipation made the lecture feel so long!

Then we waited in our rooms for the instructors to bring in our new dogs. I was so hyped — I had the leash, I was pacing, I was ready. When they came to my door, Eric was all “take-charge” about coming into the room. It was so surreal, it was amazing.

I like people names for dogs, so when they told me I had Eric, I was so happy. And of course, Eric is a part of Cedric. We fit.

Our match couldn’t be any more perfect. If my instructor had said there was a better guide dog out there for me, I would’ve called her a liar.

Now that you have Eric, what do you feel more confident doing?
Before, I stuck to my known routes to get where I needed to go. Now I have Eric, I change up our walking routes to keep things interesting for him. I can go whichever way I want.

My wife says I’m more confident with Eric, and she’s right. That’s partially because I only have to think about our destination — all of the obstacles, who we’re passing, if there’s an emergency vehicle approaching, Eric handles it.

The freedom he’s given me is beyond measure. I wasn’t expecting that. I thought he’d improve my quality of life, but he’s changed everything.

Hi, I’m Eric!

Age: 4 years

Breed: Yellow Lab/golden retriever cross

Personality: When my harness is on, I’m a paw-fect angel — focused and content with the work I’m doing. When it comes off, I’m full of energy! I’m also known as a toy destroyer.

Favorite Activities: Playing ball and swimming

Career Highlights:

  • Showed my intelligent disobedience and ignored Cedric’s “forward” command when a car was coming through an intersection — boy did I get a lot of praise after that!
  • Every week, I navigate safely across a very busy driveway, so Cedric can get to Trader Joe’s (which seems to be a very important place for humans).