Close this search box.
Close this search box.

David and Claudette

Thank you to our generous April Graduates Sponsor…

In memory of my wife, Barbara Woods, who loved dogs and Guiding Eyes. Through our entire marriage, we have had dogs, usually two at a time, and enjoyed them! Sponsoring the graduating class is a perfect way to honor her memory.

– Richard Woods

Meet April Residential Training Graduate David

Graduate David and guide dog Claudette share an outdoor benchGraduate Team: David and Claudette
About the Team: Claudette, a female black Lab, is David’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Kettering, Ohio
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Marybeth Heady

David is a massage therapist who after 20 years, has chosen to step away from his massage therapy business, with plans to reenter the hospitality field. He holds a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, a field he worked in years ago, and in a step in that direction, he and a partner have recently started an Artisan Bread company. With cooking heavily in his background, he enjoys being in the kitchen and also loves audio books, often listening to several per week.  He likes to get out and walk or take a hike and finds joy in the independence Claudette brings. David is very glad that there will now be more opportunity to get back to spending family time and he is looking forward to an upcoming trip to Lake Tahoe, with family this summer.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Claudette is an extremely smart and exceptionally loving dog. She has very quickly integrated into our family. She’s so much more than a guide dog; it’s that loving emotional support that a dog brings into the family.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “The reputation. Also, I had exposure to Guiding Eyes dogs through my sister, who received her guide dogs from here. The culture at Guiding Eyes is so familial – that’s one of the things that make this organization the incredible outfit it is. During this class,  , I missed hugging those I’ve known over the years, but everyone would go out of their way to wave and call out across the parking lot.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “It totally changes your life, giving back that independence and allowing you to participate in the world again. I was without a dog throughout the pandemic, as my first guide, Hershey, passed in November 2019. One of the greatest joys, is to know I can just harness up Claudette and get out of the house and take a walk;  to get some fresh air and feel independent again after relying on a cane. It’s always said that the cane detects obstacles whereas the dog avoids them. Those words ring true. It also changes the social aspect of life in so many ways. I sometimes felt like I was on an island; people aren’t as likely to approach you, but when you have a guide dog, they do.”

Were there any training highlights? “Training on campus this time was definitely different, given the necessary protocols in place, which presented some unique challenges. I did miss the social and educational side of meeting a group of people with vision loss and that interaction, but there was a positive side, too.  With a smaller group, you receive more individualized time with your instructor.  It may have been a shorter program, but I still received valuable training and I still returned home with a great partner.”

Meet Guide Dog Claudette

Claudette was a joy to raise. She was calm on our outings, whether it was to the mall, a walk down Main St, or inside a store. Claudette was born with manners, she never jumped on people, furniture, counters, and she never barked. She seemed to have no fear. Her two challenges were loading into my car, (she’d put her front legs up and wait for me to assist with her back legs). and man holes in the street, (why do I need to walk over when I can simply walk around?) -easy challenges, but made us laugh! Claudette loved the outdoors, whether on a hike, swimming, or laying in the sun! Claudette was raised with a chihuahua, a released GEB Lab and Shepherd, 2 horses, and a cat. We knew from the beginning Claudette would become a guide dog. We hope she brings her graduate many years of happiness and independence!

Carol Buchanan, Puppy Raiser of Claudette

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