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Catherine and Griffin

Meet Graduate Catherine

graduate portrait of Catherine with yellow Lab guide dog GriffinGraduate Team:  Catherine and Griffin
About the Team:  Griffin, a male yellow Lab is Catherine’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Bangor, Maine
Training:  November 2022 On-Campus

Catherine studied at the University of Maine, earning three bachelor’s degrees. At the Orono campus she studied Human Nutrition and at the Farmington campus she earned degrees in English and Secondary Education. Catherine is currently a long-term substitute teacher. She began her career teaching English as a second language remotely to students in China. Aside from being a teacher, Catherine practices Capoeira, a Brazilian Martial arts tradition. She also enjoys cooking and crocheting. 

How would you describe your guide dog?  “A very happy boy! His tail is always wagging! He loves to play with the other dogs in the family, including my brother’s Guiding Eyes guide dog. When Griffin has his harness on, he is still friendly, but very focused as well. He is an excellent guide. Griffin is responsive to directions and not easily distracted.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “My brother got his first guide from Guiding Eyes.  I was so impressed I decided to apply for a guide dog of my own.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life “My guide dogs, Caleb and now Griffin, have had a huge impact on my life. During my initial training, I was amazed at how quickly I could move and still avoid obstacles!  Recently I was with friends in a crowd, and they were having trouble keeping up with me and Griffin. It was not until I got a guide dog that I realized just how hard and stressful it had been when I traveled with a cane. I got embarrassed if I accidently bumped into something or someone. I travel easily and confidently with my guide dog.  As a result, my disability is less obvious, and I am more relaxed.  Griffin and I truly are a team, and we bring out the best in each other.”

Were there any training highlights? “Training was a great experience, both emotionally and technically. Of the five of us in the class, three were experienced guide dog users. My retired guide dog, Caleb traveled to Guiding Eyes with me, and it was the last time we worked together.  I found it so helpful to be with others who understand the complexity of emotions, when saying goodbye to one guide and welcoming a new one. I appreciated the opportunity to spend time with others who shared that experience.  From a technical aspect, I was introduced to the Unifly harness. With the nylon harness I feel Griffin differently and get additional feedback. I feel his pace through the harness.  Aside from the new harness, I realized how different each dog can be.  The first time Griffin and I approached a street crossing, I knew he was different from Caleb. Griffin approached the stop very differently, slowing down as he approached.  Caleb liked to continue at his regular pace and then stop. Guide dogs are just as individual as people, and I can learn from each of them.”

Meet Guide Dog Griffin

DOB:  1/23/2020
Litter ID: 2G20
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Male
Brood: MacKenzie
Stud: Jasper
Littermates: Goldie, Graham, Gabe, Gary, Gregg, Gerald
Region:  Delmarva
Regional Puppy Instructor: Cindy Tait
Puppy Raiser:  Linda Mionske
Facebook: Delmarva Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Griffin brought me such joy through his playful and loving spirit for a year and a half. I especially enjoyed taking him to playgrounds where he maneuvered the open grid steps and would go down and through the slides. He was eager to be worked with to learn new behaviors. Griffin loved getting rewarded with treats and end of day peanut butter filled bones. There were also those times when, just receiving verbal praise and a pat on the head for a job well done, he connected with me in such a way that the reward was truly mine. After leaving for his next steps in training I would be thrilled to get the reports from Griffin’s trainers, letting me know what they were working on and how he was doing in mastering those milestones. It was great coming to New York and meeting Griffin’s new mate. I know Catherine will not only be thankful for her new set of guiding eyes but will adore Griffin’s loving and playful spirit just as i did. ~ Linda Mionske, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…