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Catherine and Jada

Meet Graduate Catherine

Catherine sits with hands lovingly around black Lab guide dog Jada in their team portrait

Graduate Team: Catherine and Jada
About the Team: Jada, a female, black Lab, is Cathy’s 5th Guiding Eyes dog
Location:  Cortlandt Manor, New York|
Training: April 2024 On-Campus

Cathy works as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with the New York Commission for the Blind. She joined the Guiding Eyes family in 1986 when she got her first guide dog. That relationship has grown and deepened over the years. Not only has Cathy returned each time she was ready for her next guide dog, but she has also served as a volunteer, as well as an employee, in the Guiding Eyes offices. Cathy earned her bachelor’s degree from Iona College. After many years at home raising her children, Cathy earned her master’s degree at the University of Buffalo.  Today she enjoys taking long walks around her neighborhood and is looking forward to traveling regularly with Jada by her side.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Jada is full of energy! She is very observant and notices everything around her.  Jada and I recently went to Albany overnight for work.  She handled the train and hotel like a pro!  The real test was seeing other guide dogs and still focusing on her job.  All of my guide dogs, including Jada,  have been female, black Labs, however, when I met Jada, I immediately knew she was different I was struck by how big her nose is! I can feel the difference in her size through the harness and I had to get a bigger crate for her.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Shortly after losing my vision at the age of 18, my mobility instructor noticed how frustrated I was by the pace of life with a cane.  He encouraged me to apply for a guide dog. I have had such wonderful guide dogs and experiences with Guiding Eyes, I keep coming back. It is familiar, close to home and I’ve had great success.  No need to look elsewhere!”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “My guide dogs have given me independence and the ability to travel at a more comfortable, natural pace.  Each of my guide dogs has been with me during a unique stage of life.  From a single young adult, to newly married with babies, busy with school-age children, and now back to my career. With a guide dog, (versus a cane),  it is less obvious that I am blind. Seeing a person walking with a dog is natural and commonplace. When people do notice my guide dog, it quickly becomes a topic of conversation, breaking the ice and making it easy to engage with others.”

Were there any training highlights? “This training included both a solar eclipse and an earthquake! That was a first for me and a highlight. I enjoyed the time with the other 4 students in my class, and how well we all got along. It is always fun to meet your new guide dog and begin the process of getting to know each other and working together.

Meet Guide Dog Jada

DOB:  2/21/2022
Litter ID: 5J22
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Oriana
Stud: Darren
Littermates: Jimi, Jordan, Jeremy, Jeanette, Jamie, Jeeper, Joshua
Region:  North Carolina, Leatherstocking NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: Kerry Lemerise, MeKalea Chambliss
Puppy Raiser:  The Hill Family, Kathryn Schmidt
Facebook: North Carolina Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Leatherstocking Puppy Raisers

Photos of the Team…