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Deborah and Giada

Meet Graduate Deborah

Deborah and black lab guide dog Giada sit for their team portrait.Graduate Team:    Deborah and Giada
About the Team:  Giada is a female, black Labrador Retriever and Deborah’s 1st guide dog.
Location:   Keene, New Hampshire
Training:   May 2024 In-Class

Deborah holds a BS degree from Keene State College and an MBA from Franklin Pierce University. Prior to retirement, Deborah worked as an Industrial Controller for an international manufacturing company. She had a successful career but experienced worsening vision from an eye disease which led to early retirement.  Deborah and her husband have a blended family consisting of two adult sons, a daughter, and grandchildren. Debby has always enjoyed outdoor activities: cross-country skiing, bicycling, hiking, and snowshoeing. After three eye surgeries in a year, she had to give up many enjoyable activities and could no longer drive. She is fortunate to have a circle of friends and resources to provide transportation and help her get around her community.  Deborah is now focusing on increasing her confidence in safely hiking again, with assistance from friends and her guide dog. Deborah likes being creative, as her mother was an artist and taught her children an amazing range of art media. Her other passion is gardening, and she enjoys the daylilies planted in containers that sit on a platform her husband built.

How would you describe your guide dog? “She is my soulmate. When Giada wakes in the morning, she comes up and looks right into my eyes, as if she is looking into my soul. I am so lucky.  She enjoys a balance between work and play, and when there is a pool around, she loves the water. In harness, she is a different dog, extremely attentive and focused. She knows her work. It is incredible to have a dog that responds that quickly and that well.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I made a list of schools and did the research, talking with friends with guide dogs, some who had gone to Guiding Eyes. People were wonderful when I called the school and everyone I spoke with was great. When I told them I had completed Orientation & Mobility, they urged me to apply.  Then Regional Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, (RGDMI), Kathy, came to my home to do an assessment and record my walking, which she said was steady and solid.  That sealed the deal.  She was so terrific and upbeat, and she recommended me.  It was a heartwarming experience.  Kathy also came to my home the day after I returned from class with my new guide, Giada.  She was so supportive.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life?  “Having Giada has given me the confidence to continue to be active for many more years. She has turned my life around and I love how quickly Giada has become a beloved part of our family. I had been in early panic mode as my sight declined, but Giada has gone with me to medical appointments at hospitals and it is so comforting to have her with me. I went to a retreat at ‘Future in Sight’ and I said I liked to be active. The leader said, I’m blind and I hike and do marathons.   He said, do what you like to do.”

Were there any training highlights?  “Samantha was my trainer. Definitely one of the highlights was the night walk.  I am totally blind at night, but I did very well and managed to do every turn, every street, and crosswalk.  Then a motorcycle backfired as it went by and that was scary, but Giada was great, unaffected by it, and we got through that together. I do trust her with my life.  In White Plains, a car was too close, and Giada backed me up.  We walked through a construction area, and our trainer said, ‘Walk confidently with your dog and you will be OK’, and she was right.  The staff at the school was wonderful; the kitchen and housekeeping staff, our trainers and puppy raisers and the administration – it was great and well done.  My whole attitude toward life has changed with this experience.

Meet Guide Dog Giada

DOB:  2/6/2022
Litter ID: 3G22
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Eloise
Stud: Odin
Littermates: Gage, Greta, Georgette
Region:  Monroe NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: MeKalea Chambliss
Puppy Raiser:  Elizabeth Bentley & Steven Papponetti
Facebook: Monroe Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

“And though she be but little, she is fierce” – Shakespeare

Giada is little but a fierce dog who is up for any new adventures. We wish the new guide dog team many happy adventures together. ~Elizabeth Bentley & Steven Papponetti 

Photos of the Team…