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Caitlyn and Rory

Meet Graduate Caitlyn

Caitlyn sits sits with black Lab guide dog Rory for their team portrait

Graduate Team: Caitlyn and Rory
About the Team: Rory, is a female black Lab and Caitlyn’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog 
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Training: February 2024 On-Campus

Caitlyn is employed as a website manager and content creator, providing virtual educational content for visually impaired children, the elderly, and college-bound teens. Her responsibilities include working with individuals and peer mentoring. Caitlyn was born and raised in Belleville, a small Arkansas town located several hours from Little Rock. She became blind at the age of 17 months due to a rare auto-immune genetic disorder. Caitlyn went on to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, graduating in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. She is currently applying to graduate programs across the United States in pursuit of an advanced degree in creative writing. One of her professional aspirations is to teach reading, with a focus on accurately exploring the challenges encountered by visually impaired characters, as portrayed in literature. Caitlyn’s hobbies include her love of reading, especially psychological thrillers and dark fantasies, practicing yoga and meditation, and doing crafts.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “The words that first come to mind about Rory, are that she is very sweet. She is very responsive and pays close attention to our environment when in harness.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Guiding Eyes was highly recommended by friends, as well as from various professional rehabilitative resources. I had a great experience the first time with my retired dog Aladdin, so there was no reason not to return. The staff is welcoming and friendly and has always addressed any issues that I encountered quickly and successfully.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “When I used a cane before receiving my first guide dog, it never stopped me. However, once I received my guide dog, I felt more liberated, and fluid and he enabled me to get around more gracefully and uninterrupted by the environment.”

Were there any training highlights? “Due to my late arrival at Guiding Eyes, I met Rory on my first day. The highlight of our initial meeting was Rory hopping up and kissing my nose. She loves nose kisses. Being my second guide dog, I had concerns about whether she would be as competent as my first guide dog, Aladdin. I learned very quickly that Rory was the right choice for me. My training focused on places similar in size to where I live and was geared to my needs. The campus itself was very welcoming, with all areas labeled with braille, which was very helpful. My group consisted of just four trainees, including myself,  so we received individualized attention.”


Meet Guide Dog Rory

DOB:  12/17/2021
Litter ID: 6R321
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Evie
Stud: Enrico
Littermates: Ruth, Russell, Raven, Riley, Ricky, Rumor
Region:  Eastern MA, Maine
Regional Puppy Instructor: Lisa Bumbalo
Puppy Raiser:  Lynn Stas, Christina Strubbe
Facebook: Eastern MA Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Maine Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Rory was a very smart, independent, and happy pup, who loved to go places in her vest and watch people. She found things like shelves being stocked at Trader Joe’s and people shopping at the mall fascinating. During her time on program, Rory attended a busy conference and was calm and collected in the crowd. She also attended a multi-day board meeting, which including staying in a hotel for two nights, like it was something she did every day. Rory also loved to spend time walking on trails in the woods and getting in some good sniffs. In the summer, she liked to splash in the kiddie pool and then lay down in the pool to cool off. I hope Rory enjoys her working life and her new partnership with Caitlyn!  ~Christina Strubbe 

Photos of the Team…