Carissa & Bonnie

Carissa smiles with her arm around her alert and bright-eyed golden retriever named Bonnie.

Carissa, a college student from Colorado, has been teamed with her Seeing Eye dog Bonnie—or “Bon Bon”— since 2011.

Carissa first became interested in getting a Seeing Eye dog after talking to friends who had guide dogs. “I liked how it seemed easier, and how they seemed more independent,” she said. “And there was a sense of companionship that I really wanted.”

But working with a Seeing Eye dog isn’t as easy as walking a dog. “I expected Bonnie to be perfectly trained when I met her. Well, she was—but I wasn’t! It felt like I had three left feet!” Carissa laughed. “After a few days of training, I knew we were a match. It still took some adjusting, but I knew it was going to work.”

Bonnie is a serious worker when she’s in harness, but when she’s “off duty” she’s all fun. “I still think of her like a puppy. She’s super hyper! And when we go home she likes to steal my little sisters’ toys. It’s really cute.”