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Angie and Havana

Meet Graduate Angie

Angela sits with black Lab guide dog Havana for their team portraitGraduate Team:  Angela and Havana
About the Team:  Havana, a female black Lab, is Angela’s 5th guide dog and 1st Guiding Eyes
Location:  Arcanum, Ohio
Training: February 2024 On-Campus

Angie is a lifelong resident of Ohio and a mental health therapist.  After graduating from public high school, Angie earned an associate degree at Miami University (OH). She continued her education remotely earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix and 2 master’s degrees from the University of the Cumberlands. She works full time as a therapist for a non-profit organization and is in the process of forming Trials to Triumph, her own private practice. Angie is an experienced guide dog handler, having received her first guide dog in 2003. At that time, she was a mother to 4 young children, and she was driven by a desire to safely lead them to the bus stop and participate in their field trips and activities. These days, Angie’s guide dog accompanies her to the office during the week and to her grandchildren’s activities, as well as other recreation, on the weekend.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Havana is adorable and takes her work very seriously. She is focused and I can tell she is concentrating, as I feel her head swiveling and surveying our surroundings. Havana is smart and well-mannered. After just one day of going to my office, she learned ‘to the office’ and ‘to the lobby’. She works hard, but also plays hard. When her harness comes off, she gets the zoomies, and runs around the house.  Havana and my retired guide Nellie have become best friends.  Havana also gets along with my pet Goldendoodle and 2 cats.” 

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I learned of Guiding Eyes from fellow members of a blind community group.  My O&M instructor recommended Guiding Eyes, as well.  I chose Guiding Eyes based on several criteria including longevity of the school, dedication to the guide dog team, reimbursement for healthcare and ongoing support after graduation.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Having a guide dog has made a HUGE impact on my life. I am not only totally blind, but I’m only 4’ 10”, so I can easily feel vulnerable. I appreciate the feeling of always having a friend with me. Havana gives me independence and confidence. A guide dog allows me to live a more shared experience with the general population. I can participate more fully in regular activities. Most people love dogs. Talking about my guide dog is a natural and easy conversation with which to meet and engage with others.”


Were there any training highlights? “The people and staff at Guiding Eyes were a highlight! Everyone, whether an employee or volunteer was respectful, helpful, friendly, and seemed to be living the mission of Guiding Eyes.  As a psychotherapist, I know little things can help reduce anxiety in stressful situations.  Traveling to NY for training could be very stressful. The day before I left for training, someone from Guiding Eyes called me and asked what snacks or beverages I would like to have available in my room when I arrived on campus. I was so impressed and touched by this special and simple gesture. It was clear Guiding Eyes was working hard to make my training experience comfortable and pleasant before I even arrived.  During training, I was not required to memorize the routes at Guiding Eyes.  Instead, I was encouraged to focus on bonding with Havana. Prioritizing this bond versus learning routes allowed me to relax and learn. The ‘traffic check’ training was new to me as well. I appreciated that Guiding Eyes practiced this real threat in a safe and controlled way and taught me how the dog will react in such a situation. In addition, the graduation and opportunity to meet the puppy-raisers was unique and very special!“

Meet Guide Dog Havana

DOB:  11/3/2021
Litter ID: 6H321
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Mildred
Stud: Odin
Littermates: Hadley, Hans, Hubert, Herman, Harvard
Region:  Orange County, Erie NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: Elizabeth Vacchiano, Cassie Houghton
Puppy Raiser:  The Fisher Family, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Marth
Facebook: Orange County Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Erie NY Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raisers…

I had the privilege of starting Havana as an adorable eight week old puppy. Havana came always eager to please and quick to learn. Such a sweet and smart puppy, who just seemed to enjoy all this world had to offer. One of my favorite times with Havana, was watching her experience her first snowstorm. She was so excited and together we enjoyed running and playing in it. Havana showed that wonder and enthusiasm in everything she did, which made raising her a such a pleasure. I wish you only the best. And to paraphrase Dr. Seuss, ‘Oh! The Places you will go….together’. ~ June Fisher

I always referred to Havana as the “Little Engine That Could”. She tried very hard to please and was always willing to give it another try to get it just right. We are so proud of her!  ~Laura Marth

Photos of the Team…