Guide Dog Teams Return Home After Three Weeks of Individualized Training at Guiding Eyes for the Blind Headquarters

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY; OCTOBER 15, 2018 – This National Blindness Awareness Month, Guiding Eyes for the Blindcelebrated its October 2018 graduating class of guide dog teams. Each graduate received customized training and was paired with an exceptionally trained guide dog, provided to them at no cost by the non-profit organization.

Once home, each team will enter an important stage in their work together, as they deepen their relationships, establish daily routines, and learn new routes and destinations. The relationship between each guide dog and handler is unique, and Guiding Eyes provides helpful guidelines for members of the community to welcome them home and allow them to work safely. This includes, importantly, not distracting and never feeding or petting a working guide dog.

Learn more about the graduates of theOctober 2018 classin the school’s Residential Training program at Guiding Eyes headquarters in Yorktown Heights below:

  • Amanda & Adeline (Fishers, IN) – Amanda, a busy single mom, works six days a week running the special needs ministry at her church. Although she still has some vision, she is grateful to Guiding Eyes for matching her with her first guide dog, Adeline, and the ease and companionship that will now come with navigating her “blurry world.”
  • Ana & Beanie (Las Cruces, NM) – When Ana decided to come to Guiding Eyes after graduating high school, she was looking for more independence and ease of travel. Now paired with her second guide dog, Beanie, she got that and more. Ana loves having a companion always by her side, especially as a current student at New Mexico State University, and the conversation that a guide dog encourages.
  • Cathy & Coral (Edmonton, Alberta, CAN) – An experienced guide dog user, Cathy has already prepped her friends at her local “acquacise” class for “Miss Coral’s” debut in the coming weeks. She knows Coral will be a hit at the pool, but has made sure everyone knows the rules of guide dog etiquette and will give her “sweet, calm, cautious, and conscientious” girl plenty of time to get acclimated to her new environment.
  • Chris & Beryl (Cincinnati, OH) – Running errands, taking care of his children, daily walks and exercise… As a busy stay-at-home dad, Chris values the independence that comes with having a guide dog. Now with his third dog, Beryl, he looks forward to getting her acclimated at home and being able to safely go out on his own again.
  • Don & Macintonsh (Hollywood, MD) – Don and Macintosh (affectionately known as Mac), will make quite the pair as they head home to Maryland, where Mac will help this soon-to-be 10-time marathoner become even more active. But beyond his important work as a Running Guides guide dog, Mac will also become a welcome new addition to Don’s family. Don’s son will join the pair on training runs, and his daughter, who aspires to one day become a veterinarian, can’t wait for the new family member to come home.
  • Elaine & Kaylie (Cocoa Beach, FL) – “This place means everything to me,” Elaine says fondly of Guiding Eyes. After two brain surgeries, she was used to being handed medical information from doctors that was obscure and confusing. Elaine was inspired to go back to school for medical writing in hopes of educating and helping others, just as Guiding Eyes and her guide dogs have helped her.
  • Everett & Sunny (Brussels, WI) – It may have been serendipity that brought Everett and Sunny together; this father of eight happens to work at the “Sunshine House,” which will soon have a new “Sunny” mascot! Everett felt the impact of Sunny even before he met her, noting that the goal of one day getting a guide dog helped motivate him to become more mobile after he lost his vision four years ago.
  • John & Merion (Mississauga, ON) – As an avid rower for over 20 years, John is on the water six to seven days a week – but that’s not his only passion. John also takes classical guitar lessons and is currently studying creative writing at the University of Toronto. He looks forward to now having Merion, his first guide dog, by his side no matter where his life, or hobbies, take him.
  • Nataly & Ruffles (Winooski, VT) – From kayaking and hiking to sailing and going out with friends, Nataly likes to stay active. But while using a cane, she felt hesitant and sometimes missed out on the things she loves to do. Now paired with her first guide dog, Ruffles, Nataly hopes to thrive more in her community and is especially excited to explore hiking trails together.
  • Patti & Gillian (Jacksonville, FL) – “I’ve gone through all my life watching my feet, and with Gillian I can hold my head high and count on her to get me where I need to go.” A first-time guide dog user, Patti is thrilled to be paired with her new guide, as are her twin granddaughters who helped her choose Guiding Eyes as a school and hope to become puppy raisers in the future. Patti jokes that her grandkids will no longer have to give her an arm now that she has a guide dog: “I’m sure they don’t mind now, but once they start dating, they probably won’t want Grandma to tag along!”
  • Rene & Ocho (Taunton, MA) – While Rene is new to working with a guide dog, he can already tell Ocho is going to give him the confidence to “go where I want to go safely.” Encouraged to apply for a guide dog by his family, Rene now looks forward to having a friend and companion for the rest of his life.
  • Rose & Freddie (Staten Island, NY) – A first-time guide dog user, Rose quickly fell in love with her new guide dog, Freddie, and marvels at the selflessness of puppy raisers who support Guiding Eyes. She laughs that her daughters – whom she fondly describes as “mother hens” – may have worried about her in the past, but after visiting Guiding Eyes during training, they can now rest assured that she’s in good hands (or paws!) with her new guide.

“Congratulations to our October 2018 graduating class, the largest class in Guiding Eyes history!” said Thomas Panek, President and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, at the graduation ceremony. “We welcome you to the Guiding Eyes Community and wish you all well as you embark on incredible adventures together with your new guide dogs.”

About Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Guiding Eyes for the Blind is dedicated to creating and supporting life-changing connections between people and dogs. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides superbly bred and trained dogs to people who are blind or visually impaired. Our dogs are known for their exceptional temperaments and success at helping people gain independence and to expand their horizons of opportunity.