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Brenda & Star

Thank you to our generous November Graduate Team Sponsor…

In Memory of Donna Brill, a life long dog lover, who especially adored all the Labrador Retrievers in her life.  Donna and her husband Jim spent many years breeding and training happy and loving Labradors. We know Mom would be so proud of all the devotion and loving care these guide dogs will provide.  Thanks to the work at Guiding Eyes, these dogs will be faithful companions like Donna’s faithful dog of 16 years, Allie, who was with her through her final days.

Donna’s daughters, Angela Brill, Laurie Lamp and Kathy Dahm

Meet Home Training Graduate BrendaBrenda and Star enjoy the warmth of October sun on the porch

Graduate Team:  Brenda and Star
About the Team:  Star, a female black Lab, is Brenda’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Cortland, New York
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Lisa Derleth 

Brenda comes to Guiding Eyes for her first guide dog. Retired from her position as an elementary school administrative assistant, Brenda lives with her husband Bryan, with whom she shares three grown children, a black Lab named Kaya and a love of travel. Once the concerns of the pandemic have passed, they intend to return to visiting as many U.S. National parks as they can and look forward to future vacations in Europe. Brenda and Bryan love to find new places to eat, but for now, they enjoy cooking together at home. Brenda also enjoys listening to books, especially mysteries, long walks with Star and hiking the Fingerlakes Trail. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Star captures your heart when she looks at you. She has a great personality and is really on task when in harness. She always wants to be sure she’s doing the right thing. She is playful when out of harness, can be spunky, and especially loves her squeaky toys. She quickly became friends with our Kaya, who’s also a 2 year old black lab.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I was researching different schools and asked for recommendations from the Facebook group, for those of us with Retinitis Pigmentosa. So many said I should look into Guiding Eyes. It sounded really good; I liked what I learned about the residential program and that it was in my state of New York. I was accepted for a home training, but it worked out well, because we trained at crossing signals and such, along the routes I take.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I feel more engaged with life and willing to go out. As my vision loss increased, I was staying home more. Now I’m more confident to go out and do things. Star guides me around obstacles, so I’m able to look around and enjoy things more. I can tell by her walk that something is ahead; she alerts me to find out what’s going on. I’m more confident and independent, and my family, who encouraged me to do this, is happy about that change.”

Were there any training highlights?  “We encountered the electric company with their heavy equipment, setting new poles and running lines. There were wires, people, trucks on the sidewalk and lots of noise. That would have been too overwhelming for me and I would have just turned around, but Star led me safely through all those obstacles. It was amazing. She did a great job, and I love how she always turns to see that I’m ok when we reach the other side.”

Meet Guide Dog Star

Guide dog StarStar is the sweetest dog in the world and raising her was the most amazing experience. She gives love so freely and she has such a happy, infectious personality that truly lights up every room. I am so happy knowing Star will be spreading that love and joy to her partner. She was raised at Cornell University and a campus environment can be very hectic, but she worked hard every day to be the best dog she could be. Star conquered both New York City and the New York State Fair with so much confidence and joy. She truly is a superstar!

Destiny Orantes, Puppy Raiser of Star

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

Meet our other recent guide dog team graduates. Click here!

Friends and Family:  Watch this video to learn more about  Working with a Guide Dog Team.