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Alex and Ballou

Special Recognition: The team of Alex and Ballou was sponsored in loving memory of Suzanne Hatfield, an animal lover and adopter of several beloved Guiding Eyes dogs.  Suzanne was an extraordinarily generous and practical person.  She sought to make life easier for others and took great pleasure in helping people achieve independence, confidence and success.

Meet Graduate Alex

Alexander and yellow Lab guide dog Ballou pose against blue backgroundGraduate Team: Alexander and Ballou
About the Team: Ballou, a male yellow Lab, is Alex’s 1st guide dog
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
Training: December 2022 On-Campus

Alex was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and currently resides in Jersey City, New Jersey with his girlfriend Nicole. He attended Wake Forrest University, graduating in 2014 with a degree in mathematics. He currently works in national television media and commercial advertising sales, collaborating with ad agencies. His past and present accounts have included General Motors and Subway. His vision loss began in the eighth grade when he was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder Uveitis. In 2019 he lost all vision in his left eye and today has only central vision, and some light vision in his right eye. His hobbies and interests growing up included tennis, poker, and fishing, and although his ability to participate in these activities has changed, he recently vacationed in the Florida Keys where activities included shark fishing. Alex is an is an animal lover and enjoys fantasy sports. He is a big fan of the Buckeyes and Ohio State football.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Ballou is amazing, and we have made an incredible connection. He is a cuddler and only wants to give his attention to me. Although I love it, my girlfriend does get a little jealous.” 

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I applied to Guiding Eyes during the height of the Covid pandemic. My personal research and the locality of the school being near New York City, where I lived at the time, were the primary factors for my pursuit of Guiding Eyes.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Ballou has impacted my life in an unbelievable way. He lights up my day positively, each and every morning, as well as enabling me to get me out of our apartment countless times throughout the day. He provides me much greater independence, safety, and exercise, which was always been an important part of my life. Relying on a cane did not offer me these benefits.”

Were there any training highlights?  “I was blown away from day 1 of my training. My trainers included Kat, Michelle and Stephanie. They are long term employees with Guiding Eyes and really showed their experience, helping me from the moment I arrived on campus. There were three other students in my class. It was the first time I had been able to spend time with other visually impaired individuals. We continue to stay in touch regularly and share resources and handling skills with each other. Because of the small class size, we became very close. The on-campus accommodations, including the room, bed and having an Alexa device were amazing. Everyone, from Chef Rob’s kitchen staff to the Nursing and care staff, were so helpful and accommodating.”

Meet Guide Dog Ballou

DOB:  4/1/2020
Litter ID: 4BB20
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Lace
Stud: Kisco
Littermates: Bishop, Brahms, Bart, Bedford, Biscotti, Basil, Bettina, Brava, Luke
Region:  Adirondack
Regional Puppy Instructor: Kate Gardner
Puppy Raiser:  The Edwards Family
Facebook: Adirondack Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Ballou came to us at the height of the pandemic lockdown. He was an adorable, energetic pup, who kept us on our toes! Ballou was quick to learn skills, and always loved working. He enjoyed going to school with Jeff. He was able to sleep through math lessons, and loved the fawning attention of 6th graders! He was just as content to work remotely with Lynn. Ballou enjoyed his lab brothers, pack walks with friends, and chewing on a bone while it was held! Ballou’s favorite winter activity was rolling in the snow, and swimming in the Hudson River was his favorite summertime activity. Ballou is an absolute love, who was often found lying at our feet! We love Ballou, and couldn’t happier with the Ballou/Alex guide dog team!  ~ Kathy Edwards and the Edwards Family

Photos of the Team…