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Cole and Nutmeg

Thank you to our generous June Graduate Sponsors…

“Congratulations to the June graduating class and guide teams.  Healthy Vision Association is  proud to support Guiding Eyes and all the great work you do.”

Healthy Vision Association Charity Fund

“We celebrate all of the graduates this day. We appreciate all of your perseverance to arrive at this point in your journey with Guiding Eyes. We dedicate our shared sponsorship of this particular graduation to the memory of Kate Fanti. She was an enthusiastic Guiding Eyes volunteer who brought the understanding of the important mission of Guiding Eyes to WCDNF. She brought Omar to a club meeting. We miss her and we believe that her giving, friendly manner helped with the preparation of the Guiding Eyes puppies.  She often shared photos and anecdotes about her very special puppies at club meetings.” 

Women’s Club Danbury/New Fairfield

Meet June Residential Training Graduate Cole

Graduate Cole sits with guide Nutmeg on an outdoor benchGraduate Team:  Cole and Nutmeg
About the Team: Nutmeg, a female yellow Lab, is Cole’s first guide dog
Hometown:  Bentonville, Arkansas
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Katherine Russell

Cole is a rising sophomore at the University of Arkansas, where he is studying Economics. His goal after graduation is to work as an economic or financial advisor and with the stock market. Cole currently lives at home with his parents and younger brother in Bentonville, Arkansas, but will be living in a campus dorm during the upcoming academic year. In his free time, Cole is part of the podcast, through the Division of Services for the Blind of Arkansas. The podcast, which Cole produces with 2 co-hosts, addresses everything from technology to life to social interaction for the blind and visually impaired. Cole is a big sports and music fan, particularly rap music and Broadway musicals. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Nutmeg is a real firecracker. She has a really fast pace and is a total get up and go type. If we’re not doing anything, she lays down and sleeps. If I’m doing something, she’s up. She’s my ‘ride or die’. With Nutmeg, it’s either 0 or 100, but she’s well behaved. She’s so cute, and she knows how cute she is. Everyone calls her pretty and when out of harness, if she locks eyes with someone, she’ll roll onto her back as if to say, ‘I know, I’m adorable.’ Nutmeg loves catching frisbees and loves to swim! She was a little hesitant at first when I tried to get her to jump into the pool, but I did it and she jumped right in after me!”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “My friend Caitlyn, who does the podcast with me, got her guide dog Aladdin from Guiding Eyes and he’s just awesome. Listening to Caitlyn talk about how it was going with her guide motivated me to apply to Guiding Eyes. The Running Guides program is also interesting to me, as I did like to run earlier on. These things led me to apply, and I’ve loved the experience so far!”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “More people want to come up and talk to me when I’m with Nutmeg. Guide dogs are definitely more of a conversation starter than canes. No one is going to come up to tell you how cute your cane is! Also, the structure and responsibility is a big change, but the routine of getting up at 7:30 every morning to feed and park my dog is very helpful to me. A big problem that came with COVID was the lack of structure that my day had. I was doing classes online and everything I wanted, whenever I wanted, but this lack of structure led to procrastination. Now I’m more productive with the structure that Nutmeg brings to my life.”

Were there any training highlights? “On the last day of training, the four students in my class went to the Hudson River early in the morning and just walked alongside it. It was nice out and we just ‘went’. It was the best way to feel the massive difference in having a dog and having a cane. It would have taken forever to do that with a cane; always braced to hit an object. One of the students said it best: the cane is an obstacle identifier, but a guide dog is an obstacle avoider. That was exactly what was put on display at the river walk. Just walking freely in a way that let your muscles ease up, was a great way to end training. Also, meeting the other students was a great part of the experience at Guiding Eyes.”

Meet Guide Dog Nutmeg

Nutmeg is an appropriate name for her as she is a spicy girl! She has lots of energy and loves to play, but she is equally enthusiastic about all kinds of socialization experiences and learned to handle them with aplomb. She’s been to college hockey and football games, played with dogs of every size and shape, explored dozens of conservation areas with me and my co-raiser (and found black mud in several of them!), visited farm animals, attended outdoor concerts, made like a seal in backyard pools, helped me give presentations on guide dogs. What a love she is! Nutmeg’s enthusiasm for most anything made her a challenge for the first few months and a delight from then on as she LOVES to work. After LOTS of practice, Nutmeg got really good with dog distractions and on a long-line walk in the woods a dog walker came by with seven (SEVEN!) dogs, all off leash. I had Nutmeg sit and she just sat and watched (with tail wagging happily) while all seven came and checked her out. I was SO impressed!

Ruth Ladd, Puppy Raiser of Nutmeg

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