Just like his quarterback dad, Eli Manning’s dog, Chester, has to be quick on his feet.
“He has two babies running around, and so, finally, the oldest has stopped grabbing the tail, but he’s got a new 1-year-old,” the New York Giants quarterback says of his daughters, Ava, 3, and Lucy, who turns one on June 17. “But he’s gotten used to that and understands – he’s been sweet and doing great.”
Though an ankle injury sidelined the athlete last season, he was given the all-clear to hit the green at New York’s Mount Kisco Country Club on Monday for the 37th Annual Guiding Eyes for the Blind Golf Classic, where he putted with a blindfold over his eyes to see exactly what it’s like to play with a visual impairment (watch him swing in the video below).
The 33-year-old football player – and dog lover! – also met pups who serve as the eyes for so many people, like 20-month-old Jansen (left), a yellow Lab and guide dog-in-training.
It’s the eighth year Manning has hosted the event, which is close to his heart because a family friend, blind golfer Patrick W. Browne, Jr., taught the future athlete to play the game as a boy.
“Each year, you hear more and more stories of the great work that [Guiding Eyes for the Blind] does and how many people’s lives it affects and changes for the better,” he says of the organization, a non-profit that provides the blind and visually impaired with guide dogs. “Guiding Eyes is doing great work, and I’m happy to be associated with them.”
Having grown up with Labradors, Manning told PEOPLE in January that he also wanted his children to grow up around animals. And, while dad is keeping busy this summer with events like this and organized team activities with the Giants, it seems his 4-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel has found a summer job, too – as a lifeguard.
“He is very protective [of the kids] and keeps a good eye on them,” Manning says. “He does not like when they go swimming. He’s very scared for them in the swimming pool, you know. We’ve got a good eye on them, but it’s sweet.”