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Cindy Lou and Crystal

Meet Graduate Cindy Lou

Cindy Lou is next to yellow Lab guide dog Crystal as they sit for their team portraitGraduate Team: Cindy Lou and Crystal
About the Team: Crystal, a female yellow Lab, is Cindy Lou’s 3rd Guiding Eyes dog
Location: Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Training: February 2024 On-Campus

Cindy Lou and her husband reside in Pennsylvania with her retired guide dog, Jada, and her current guide, Crystal. She is retired now, but her diverse career included being a hairdresser, working in the hotel business, and serving as a call center operator. She was also involved in Guiding Eyes Puppy Raising! In her leisure time, she enjoys various hobbies such as crafting, gardening, and baking. Each year Cindy Lou eagerly anticipates the spring and working on her flower and container gardens. She is also an avid runner and looks forward to days with Crystal, putting her running guide training into action. Cindy Lou is excited about Crystal accompanying them on a road trip in the coming year, where they will visit family along the East Coast.

How would you describe your guide dog? “She is a spitfire! She’s full of energy and very smart. She loves to be out on a route and she’s quick to learn them, that’s for sure. She’s going to be nonstop and that’s what I love about her. She knows her stuff! With a new dog, I have to make sure that I’m speaking her language and that I stay in proper alignment and position with her. Every now and then, she’ll give me a sigh like ‘Come on, Mama.’ I like to match Crystal’s bandana for the day to my outfit and I even have makeup with a little bit of sparkle to match her sparkly name!”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “When I lived in Vermont, I met a puppy raiser with a little black lab that was so well-behaved. The puppy raiser suggested we go to a graduation together. I saw the independence these dogs give to their handlers but wasn’t ready. I didn’t know if I’d be ‘giving in’ to my eye disease by getting help. Then I realized that Guiding Eyes was going to help me fight it and be more independent and confident. I went on to become a raiser, starting several puppies and finishing one too. I was a puppy sitter coordinator and I’ve had about 17-18 different dogs come through my house. It was a no-brainer to come to Guiding Eyes for a guide dog.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I have more confidence and the independence to go wherever I want to. I’m not latched onto my husband’s elbow. I love him dearly, but I can now go ‘over here’ if I want, instead of having to go ‘over there’ with him. Even the convenience of being able to go into a store bathroom by myself is amazing. I like being able to say ‘’let’s meet over here’ and then do whatever I want to do by myself. It’s also amazing to have the independence of a running dog, running whenever I want, weather-depending, of course!”

Were there any training highlights? “There were so many highlights. The trainers were awesome. I had my birthday there, so of course they had a cake! For Valentine’s Day, they got us heart-shaped donuts. Being that I’m a seasoned guide dog user, I went in with expectations. They were there to give me extra support; and to help me out when I needed them the most, saying, ‘You can do this!’ It’s just like your family grows even bigger. I left knowing more trainers, and more students. It was all around a good experience.”

Meet Guide Dog Crystal

DOB:  10/6/2021
Litter ID: 2C321-S
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Bonnie
Stud: Opa
Littermates: Chloe, Champ, Cadbury, Charlotte, Cersei, Captain
Region:  Cleveland East
Regional Puppy Instructor: Macy Nauman
Puppy Raiser:  Janet Rice, Debbie Arnold
Facebook: Ohio Puppy Raisers

Special Recognition: Crystal was special named by the Marshall Family in honor of their granddaughter, Catalina Crystal. The Marshalls shared, “Congratulations on your new partnership Cindy Lou and Crystal, we are praying for you as you start your adventure together.” Crystal was also followed by a Pathfinder Society member, someone who listed Guiding Eyes in their legacy plans and received photos and updates of Crystal’s journey.

Photos of the Team…