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August 2011 Graduating Class

August 2011 graduating class
Rochelle Brothers & Talbot
Lisa & Ogden
Pauline Chaison & Rita
Juergen Fleger & Tobias
Kate Katulak & Hosta
Tricia Lacey & Augie
Gabriel Millay & Picasso
Nooria Nodrat & Tana
Danielle Senick & Floss
Marcie Wallace & Porter
Tomeka White & Lester
Jane Whittier & Gladys

Home Training Graduates
Ingrid Filipini & Parfait
Dawn Penders & Geordi

Many thanks to our instructors:
Dell Rodman, Class Supervisor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Woody Curry, Class Instructor
Stephanie Koret, Class Instructor
Kristina Andersen, Home Training Instructor

Michael Goehring, Field Representative
Alyssa Tilley, Instructor Assistant

Rochelle Brothers and TalbotRochelle Brothers and Talbot
Rochelle Brothers from Massachusetts has been matched with her first guide dog Talbot, a yellow male Lab.

Rochelle is the youngest in her family. She is allergic to dogs but decided the benefit of having a guide dog outweighed her allergies, which she now has under control.

A major asthma attack sent Rochelle to the hospital; the medical procedures required to save her life caused her vision loss.

She has been accepted to University in Scotland and will major in English and Celtic studies. Rochelle’s hobbies include reading, horses and playing the cello.

Talbot and Rochelle are learning how to be a working team. She is looking forward to feeling more confident and putting her trust in Talbot. It is exciting to walk down the sidewalk now because she feels safe and won’t trip. “Having Talbot in Scotland will give me independence and will make me more approachable.”

Lisa and OgdenLisa and Ogden
Lisa, a New York native, has been matched with Ogden, a black male Lab and her first guide dog.

Lisa is an accomplished cane user and started thinking about getting a guide dog three years ago. A serious accident in February convinced Lisa the time was now.  A close friend works for PepsiCo and provides tours of the company’s world famous sculpture gardens to Guiding Eyes clients; she suggested Lisa apply to the school.

Lisa has been legally blind since birth due to undeveloped retinas. Cataract surgery and a cornea transplant helped somewhat but her vision started to rapidly deteriorate in her 30’s.

Lisa shares her life with her husband, son, daughter and Spanky the family Maltese. She is a Special Ed teacher and has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education/special ed and a masters from Adelphi in early childhood/special ed. Her students are both physically and mentally challenged. She loves being outside, spending time with family and friends, and likes to cook and take nature walks.

Ogden is going to make a huge difference in her life and she adores him. Lisa is looking forward to going out with Ogden without waiting for someone to accompany her.

Pauline Chaison and RitaPauline Chaison and Rita
Pauline “Polly” Chaison calls Florida home. She returns to Guiding Eyes for her second guide dog Rita, a black female Lab.

Polly and her husband celebrated their 50th anniversary this past June. They have four children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren – all who live nearby.  Before her retinitis pigmentosa progressed, Polly worked as an artist, painting mainly with oils. She now focuses on photography and has competed across the country. She is active with the National Council of Catholic Women and she regularly fundraises for her local Lions Club where first guide dog Archie is an honorary member. Additionally, Polly works with visually impaired students through the Brevard Association for the Blind, teaching them the important skills to help adjust to sight loss.

Giving back has always been a part of Polly’s life. A fundraising event held before coming to New York netted a $1,000 donation to Guiding Eyes. Her new guide Rita will take part in future fundraising efforts. Polly is looking forward to introducing Rita to Archie and watching them play in the back yard.

Juergen Fleger and TobiasJuergen Fleger and Tobias
Jüergen Fleger is from Germany and is matched with Tobias, a yellow male Lab. This is his second guide dog and first from Guiding Eyes.

He is the youngest of four boys; three out of four are unexpectedly blind, with no family history of hereditary blindness.

Jüergen is a journalist for the National German Radio. He is an editor and a reporter and studied music Science and education. He began working at the radio station while studying for his master’s degree.  He also wrote for several newspapers and websites, and spent two months producing television shows.  He is passionate about technology and started a small company – Apple-Fleger – to train blind people to use Apple products.

The first days with Tobias were very different. He is a big, muscular dog.  “When I call him in the morning he comes over and nibbles on my ear. He likes to play, especially fetch, where he puts the bone right in my hand.”  Jüergen is looking forward to teaching Tobias his routine, his routes and traveling with him. “In time the bond becomes so strong you can read each others minds. You know each other inside and out, good and bad, and you can walk as fast as a sighted person.”

Kate Ann Katulak and HostaKate Ann Katulak and Hosta
New Yorker Kate Katulak returns to Guiding Eyes for her second dog, Hosta, a black female Lab.

A virus in high school caused Kate’s optic nerves to atrophy. She graduated from Wright State College where she majored in psychology.  After working in a psychology research position, Kate decided to go back to school for her master’s in education.  She is currently attending Teacher’s College at Columbia University.  She is the youngest in her family with a sister, brother and two nephews. Her parents live out of state.

Kate realized there would be a transition to her new dog Hosta and had great expectations but was a bit nervous.  The introduction was amazing, and Kate looks forward to tackling New York City with Hosta by her side.


Tricia Lacey and AugieTricia Lacey and Augie
Tricia Lacey is from the midwest and calls Illinois home. Augie, a black male Lab is her first guide dog.

Tricia was born sighted but lost her sight due to an eye infection that never healed.  It caused multiple scaring in both eyes and in 2004 she was declared legally blind.

After attending some college, Tricia decided she needed more mobility. She took an intense orientation and mobility training program before coming to Guiding Eyes. She loves to expand her horizons and the internet has played a big part, surfing the web and learning of new places, new experiences. She enjoys swimming with her daughter and spending time with her family.

Augie has exceeded all Tricia’s expectations. She is looking forward to working to the independence that a guide dog will bring to her life. “The dog can do things that a cane can’t.”

Gabriel T. Millay and PicassoGabriel T. Millay and Picasso
Gabriel T. Millay enjoys life in Maine. He is matched with his first guide dog, Picasso, a black and tan male Lab.

Gabriel grew up in a family of twelve.  They used to joke that “some are for sale if you want them.”  Doctors are unsure what caused his vision loss.  Gave attends the University of Southern Maine with a major in criminal law.

He loves computers and also enjoys listening to baseball games.  He is a Boston Red Sox fan and enjoyed wearing his Boston hat while training in NYC.

Gabriel is very happy with Picasso, a large laid back dog and one of the only black and tan Labs. “Picasso acts differently with the harness; he gets more serious. Generally he is a quiet dog and I like that.” Gabriel is looking forward to showing him off. He wants to introduce him to the ocean and hopes he will go for a swim.

Nooria Nodrat and TanaNooria Nodrat and Tana
Nooria Nodrat is an Action Student from New York and is matched with Tana, a black female Lab and her second guide dog. She retired first dog Yahoo just before coming into class. “He was a wonderful companion and an excellent guide. I accomplished many wonderful things because of Yahoo.”

She was born with glaucoma but was able to read with glasses.  In 1997, Nooria was attacked on the subway.  Her injuries caused her to become totally blind overnight.

Nooria is originally from Afghanistan and is the founder and executive director of a foundation to support blind women and children in her birth country. She graduated Cum Laude and is now studying at CUNY Graduate Center School of Professional Studies.

Nooria loves running, jogging, walking, books, music, animals, cooking, writing, and practicing karate.  She will be running in the New York Marathon this November.  Nooria is looking forward to new experiences with Tana. “She is sweet, playful, and extremely fast. She puts her head on my foot in downward dog yoga position so I can rub her belly.”

Danielle Marie Senick and FlossDanielle Marie Senick and Floss
Danielle Marie Senick will return home to Connecticut with Floss, a black female Lab.

Danielle was born with Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, a genetic condition causing scarring of the retinas. She has limited peripheral vision. Danielle felt uncomfortable with a cane, especially at night or in places she wasn’t familiar with. She found herself dependent on people and always wanted a guide dog.

She attends a small college in rural Massachusetts. The country campus is difficult to navigate with a cane, and Floss will make it much easier.  Danielle is majoring in psychology with a minor in education.

She likes to walk, enjoys relaxing on the beach, swimming, going to movies and hanging out with friends.

Floss is teaching Danielle to trust her instincts and take feedback. The dog’s presence makes Danielle feel more balanced – she is thinking clearly about the present, not anchored to the past or worrying about the future. Excited to return to school, Danielle will miss Guiding Eyes. “There is a harmony here that makes you feel like you’re part of a family.”

Marcie Kay Wallace and PorterMarcie Kay Wallace and Porter
Marcie Kay Wallace comes to Guiding Eyes for the first time and will return home to Missouri with Porter, a black and tan male Lab.

Retinopathy of prematurity is the cause of Marcie’s sight impairment. She lives near her family, her mother, sister and brother-in-law and niece and nephew. Porter will be her fifth guide dog and first from Guiding Eyes.

Marcie attended the Missouri School for the Blind, has completed a few courses at local colleges and is currently enrolled in a Medical Transcription course. When not in school she sings with the church choir, plays the flute, loves to read and truly enjoys the computer.

The decision to come to Guiding Eyes was aided by a friend who has been here four times. “They really care about you and the dog, not just today but after you return home.”

This experience has been what Marcie expected. “It is refreshing to have a training staff who truly care.” Marcie, who wears her emotions on her sleeve, has been matched with the perfect dog. “Porter is not even two and he is so mature. I’m looking forward to getting out into the community with him.” It is so comforting to have a dog she can rely on. She is confident Porter will behave when people come to visit. She is excited to have Porter by her side in the choir loft knowing he will enjoy it as much as she does.

Picture of Tomeka Yolanda Nicole White and VinceTomeka Yolanda Nicole White and Lester
Meka White made the cross country journey from Washington State for Lester, a black male Lab.

Her family is scattered from coast to coast and Meka is looking forward to safely traveling with Lester.  She is a massage therapist, earning her degree from Everest College.  Meka also sings, and she recently placed fourth in the Karaoke World Championships.

Meka has been visually impaired since birth because of sclerocornea.  She loves to read and considers herself a book worm. Romance and medieval fantasy are her favorite genres.

Lester is an incredible dog – a love bug with a great little face she loves to pet.  He is a hard worker and very affectionate. She is looking forward to returning home and getting him acclimated to her routine. There are many guide dog users in her area. She is president of the Peninsula Council of the Blind and a Board member of the Washington Council of the Blind. She describes what it is like to have a guide dog; “I form a bond with this very special animal, entrusting my life in his paws.  I trust him, and Lester trusts that I will take care of him.”

Jane A. Whittier and GladysJane A. Whittier and Gladys
Jane Whittier lives in North Carolina.  This month she was matched with Gladys, a female German shepherd.

Glaucoma caused Jane’s vision loss.  She attended the University of Michigan and was a data programmer and trainer for mainframe computer systems.  Jane is now retired but is still active in her community.  She exercises regularly, makes jewelry, and is a member of the local Lions Club.  She also participates in a support group for blind people.

Jane is excited to have Gladys in her life.  She plans to join a walking group and tour the University.  She will also be able to travel using buses and feels that much more of the world is in her grasp.