Rance Orrell/Old Gold & Black
Rance Orrell/Old Gold & Black

Deacon Profile: Lavender the Labrador

Lavender is a four-month-old labrador retriever. She is training to be a service dog through the Guide Dog Foundation and sightings of her trotting around campus in her yellow vest are beloved by many a Demon Deacon.

It is most likely that Lavender will one day be a Seeing Eye dog through the Guide Dog Foundation. But, other backups for her future include being a mobility or PTSD support dog for a veteran through America’s Vet Dogs. She also could be trained to sniff for bombs or accelerants.

Her raiser, sophomore Rance Orrell, translated her woofs and wags into people words for the Old Gold & Black’s interview questions.

Lavender also has an active Instagram following on her account, @lavender_the_labrador.

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Hi, Lavender! How are you doing today?

I’m really good! Being as good as I am every single day can be a lot of work sometimes, but I must be doing well because my raiser says that I’m a good girl. Being a doggo on the Wake Forest campus is a lot of fun — I have lots of new friends who love me and my raiser helps me learn new skills every day that will help me be a good guide dog for my future human.

What does an average day look like for you?

Usually my raiser and I wake up around 7 a.m., which is early, but I do a big excite because I can’t wait to play and learn. We go outside so that I can do my business and then go back inside where I play until I eat my breakfast around 8 a.m. Then, I wait very patiently while my raiser does something called “homework.” I don’t know what that is, but it must not be very much fun because he does so much of it when he’d rather be playing and learning with me!

Sometimes when I’m a good girl — which is actually always — we play outside on the big green place next to Palmer before my raiser has class. He says it’s called a “tennis court” and it’s the only place where my raiser gets to take off the rope he always wears. I have to walk him everywhere!

After that, we go to my raiser’s classes and I lay quietly underneath his chair and sometimes do a snooze while he learns human things for millions of years at a time. I do my best not to do any grrborks, and I’m always a h*ckin good doggo in class.

Every day my raiser and I learn together for about 15 minutes, usually at the fun big green place.

It can be hard to sit and stay when I want to do a big excite and do speedy zooms and grrbork at clouds and floating leaves, but I stay still because as soon as I lose my focus, I’m not working anymore. And working and learning are my favorite things to do!

What kinds of skills is your raiser teaching you?

I’m only four months old, but I already know “sit,” “down,” “upsit,” “stand,” “stay,” “come” and “leave it.” I’m working really hard on “heel” and my raiser says that I’ve always known “steady!” That’s no surprise to me, though, because I am so smart.

What is it like being an Instagram star?

Sometimes my raiser points his magic rectangle at me and somehow I appear on his human friends’ magic rectangles! I don’t know how it works besides magic, but I know that seeing me makes his friends really happy.

When we’re walking to my raiser’s classes, people will ask him if I’m Lavender because they saw me before on their magic rectangles. I have friends that haven’t even gotten to give me belly scratches yet!

Also, when my raiser puts me on his magic rectangle, he always makes sure to describe exactly what I’m doing and what I look like in what he calls the “caption.” He does that so someone who might be my future human can find out how cute I am even if they can’t see very well.

My raiser says that some people can make voices come out of their magic rectangles to help them read, just like how I’m going to help them out with other things when I grow up! Wow. 

Why are you such a good girl?

That’s just what makes me Lavender. Whenever I see anyone, I do a big excite and have to work really hard to stay focused. That happens a lot, because new friends stop my raiser and me 12 trillion times a day.

I want to do a speedy zoom to everyone at Wake Forest and do a big slobber on them and have a cozy snug.

Some dogs do a frighten when they meet new friends — I don’t do that. But I’m a big girl now and my raiser helps me remember that I need to focus on my work so I can be the best guide dog for my future human.

What do you want Demon Deacons to know about service dogs in training?

I love belly scratches, but please don’t scratch my belly or my ears without my raiser’s permission. Learning so much and working so hard every day isn’t easy when you’re only four months old. As wonderful as belly scratches are, they can make me forget that when I have my yellow vest on, I’m supposed to be working.

Also, I know how cute and good I am, and when I help out my human one day, I’ll still be just as cute and good. Please don’t stare and point at working dogs and their humans. It could make our humans nervous and all we want to do is help our humans have the greatest, best-est life they possibly can.

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