Meet Graduate Ashley
Ashley was born and raised in Ormond Beach, Florida, located near Daytona Beach. She now lives in Denver, Colorado with her boyfriend, Matt, a French horn player and sales representative for Xero. She attended Florida State University where she earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Ashley is a board certified music therapist and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), employed by VitalCare, working with children and adults with complex PTSD. Ashley is an active runner, when weather permits, enjoys all genres of music, and loves animals. Besides Lolly, she has a an eleven year old calico cat, Maya. Diagnosed as a young child with a genetic retinal disease, Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, her vision significantly worsened 4 years ago, and she now has only light perception. Lolly is Ashley’s second guide dog, and her first from Guiding Eyes.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Lolly is very smart, hilarious, charismatic, loving and has a mind of her own. She is a highly driven, running guide dog, and she notices everything around her. When I sit down on the floor next to her, she loves to put her paws up on my shoulders and give hugs. She is really incredible.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “My previous guide dog, Hera, received when I was 19 years old, came from a different agency and had to retire early due to a dog attack. The agency was unable to provide a new guide dog in a timely manner and I eventually contacted Guiding Eyes, upon the recommendation of a friend who works as an Assistive Technology instructor with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. She raved about her past experience with Guiding Eyes. It was definitely the right move.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “During the period between my first dog being retired and receiving Lolly, seven years passed by, in which I had to rely on a cane. When I received Lolly and held her harness, I felt I could begin moving about freely and safely again. Receiving Lolly was immediately life altering.”
Were there any training highlights? “My trainer was Shannon McGee and I immediately clicked with her. Shannon understood my history and fear of dog distractions and attacks. She incorporated into my training how to handle an incident of this nature, and helped me to build my confidence as a handler in any situation. She accomplished the task with both humor and sensitivity. I felt spoiled by the service provided by the staff during each dining experience in the dorm. The meal variety offered was outstanding and delicious. One additional note worthy of sharing is that Guiding Eyes’ room intercom system was so helpful and much better than texting messages. I really liked not having to be attached to and relying on my cell phone.”
Meet Guide Dog Lolly
- DOB: 12/29/2019
- Tattoo ID: 7L419
- Color/Breed: Black/Labrador
- Gender: Female
- Brood: Bette
- Stud: Tito
- Littermates: Louis, Lucia, Lisa, Larry, Lydia, Logan
- Region: Baltimore/Montgomery
- Regional Manager: Jeanne Gembarski
- Puppy Raiser: Debra Honick, Jennifer Nair
- Facebook: Guiding Eyes Baltimore Puppy Raisers
- Facebook: Guiding Eyes Montgomery Puppy Raisers
Lolly has been the sweetest pup imaginable. As a pandemic puppy, we had to work hard to provide opportunities to spend time away from her family and her “big sister”, released GEB pup Celine, and it was always a struggle since Lolly is just such good company! Her favorite place was to take a nap lying right on top of Celine, or sitting on her humans’ feet, or relaxing in a Close position. After a brief struggle with shoes, she learned impeccable house manners and was a delight to live with. Lolly was very interested in the outside world once we started venturing out again and was a great companion on many fun trips. We’re so happy she will be part of a guide dog team, I know she will love it!
Jen Nair, Puppy Raiser of Lolly
Lolly came just a few days before the pandemic. I wasn’t planning on being a starting raiser, but I met Jen following IFT at dinner and we started talking, next thing I know … Lolly. She was sweet, crazy sweet, and easy to train, adaptable, loving. Her best friend was Gator who was in training at GEB when school closed and came back to me during pandemic. Lolly and Gator were inseparable. Never apart, always cuddling together. Lolly didn’t have much outside socialization initially but we trained hard at home, recreating social situations. She loved to please and be praised, then kiss you and cuddle some more! I called her LollyPup! She has everything it takes to work hard, be a loyal companion and will always be a gentle spirit.
Debra Honick, Puppy Raiser of Lolly