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Alanna-Joan and Nina

Thank you to our generous August Graduates Sponsor…

In memory of my wife, Barbara Woods, who loved dogs and Guiding Eyes. Through our entire marriage, we have had dogs, usually two at a time, and enjoyed them! Sponsoring the graduating class is a perfect way to honor her memory.

– Richard Woods

Meet August Residential Training Graduate Alanna-Joan

Graduate Alanna-Joan and guide NinaGraduate Team:  Alanna-Joan and Nina
About the Team: Nina, a female black & tan German Shepherd, is Alanna’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  New York, New York
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Shannon McGee

Alanna graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in December 2020 with a degree in Psychology and Public Health, and goals of working in a hospital setting. In her free time she enjoys reading, hanging out with family and friends, and exploring NYC, where she and her guide dog, Nina, live with Alanna’s sister. There’s always something new to find there! Alanna is involved with the advocacy group, Visions/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and is on their advisory board for the borough of Queens, raising funds and awareness.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Nina has a big personality and is very funny. She knows what she likes and is super smart. If I pet her and stop, she taps me as if to say, ‘you need to keep going.’ Her trainer said she always had a big personality and she really does. She is just so spirited.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I was doing research on a few different schools, and Guiding Eyes popped out at me as the best choice to apply to. The fact that they had German Shepherds was definitely important to me and I also liked that they had different types of training, like the Home Training and Residential Class Training. When I was researching, I spoke with my O&M Instructor and she said she always tells people to go to Guiding Eyes.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It has made such a positive impact on my life. Having a guide dog has made me feel a lot more secure than if I was using my cane, especially at night. I’m more active; I actually leave my apartment more as it gets dark. During the day I am able to do pretty well, but at night I have no usable vision and having her is such a confidence booster.  The time we’ve been together has been full of new experiences and I’m much more confident.”

Were there any training highlights? “A highlight from my time in class would be when I first met her and saw her goofy side and how much personality she had. The class went to a movie and she was fine through the entire thing. At the very end when everyone clapped, she let out a bark. I had never heard her bark – hadn’t heard one peep from her – and she just tilted her head like ‘yeah, that was me.’ Of course, the people were great too. We all connected on such a good level and getting to know everyone was awesome. Even the instructors were amazing. The whole experience was so great and I feel like I made lifelong friends during my time at Guiding Eyes.”

Meet Guide Dog Nina

I could talk for hours about her. Nina is incredibly special in so many ways, from her adorable head tilts, to always following me no matter where we are and who else is around, her cuddles and kisses when she’s laying or sitting near me, intense tennis ball fetch games, and also her passion for being comfortable in unfamiliar places and meeting unfamiliar people. Nina is a very brave and confident doggo, she’s not even scared of storms or heavy rain. She and I did a lot of practicing in my yard late at night and during bad weather, so she would be more comfortable in those types of situations. She was certainly a blessing to me during the loss of dad too. Like I said, there’s a lot I can say about that sweet girl. I love her and my heart beats with her. Thank you GEB for allowing me to be a part of this awesome organization.

Denise Petza, Puppy Raiser of Nina

Enjoy these photos of the team and Nina as a pup on program…