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December 2012 Graduating Class

Thank you to our December graduation sponsors:
“Today we honor our precious Vera! We are so very proud of you and how far you have come. You light up the room wherever you go. And from today onward, you will light the way for Nino. May you both be safe, provide comfort to each other and live long, healthy and happy lives.”
– Bunny Wilks & Ephraim Seidman

“In loving memory of our son, Walter P. Wagner. Your spirit is with us on this special day.”
– Antoinette & George Daab

Meet our Graduates:
Denise & Pauline
Liane & Basil
Betsy & Falcon
James & Petey
Domonique & Taxi
Meredith & Nan
Ann & Frodo
Blessing & Laramie
Thomas & Don
Leslie & Glossy

Home Training Graduates:
Mary & Tate
Janet & Nexus
Nino & Vera
Bradley & Pride (training completed at home)

Many thanks to our instructors:
Melinda Angstrom, Class Supervisor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Erik Wright, Class Instructor
Alyssa Tilley, Class Instructor
Julie Angle, Special Needs Home Training
Krissy Andersen, Home Training
Vanessa Vinci, Instructor Assistant

Denise and Pauline

Denise lost her sight to retinitis pigmentosa and today has only very limited light perception. This month she was matched with her fourth guide dog – black Labrador Pauline.

Denise and her husband have a grown daughter, son and granddaughter. Her son raises guide dogs in Australia and was the first in the family to meet Pauline via Skype. Denise explains, “My son grew up with me using guide dogs. He wanted to do something that made a difference. I taught him that blindness was normal.”

Now retired, Denise enjoys yoga, heritage rug hooking, spending time with friends and ice skating while tethered to a sighted friend. She appreciates Pauline and shares, “Walking with Pauline is the closest thing to walking sighted – it feels so graceful!”

Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Sue Brado and Jennifer Wolbert of the Erie Region. 


Liane and Basil

Liane was matched with Basil, a yellow Labrador and her fourth dog from Guiding Eyes. She received her first guide dog as a high school student, after losing her sight to a drunk driver at the age of 12. Liane’s dog accompanied her to Ryder University where she majored in business administration and computers. She is now married and is a stay-at-home mom to her two sons.

Liane used a cane while the boys were young and now looks forward to the independence and freedom of working with Basil. Basil allows Liane to take the bus and venture out from her immediate area. He will enjoy family vacations to exciting destinations, as Liane’s family looks forward to camping in the mountains, touring caves and coal mines, and taking trips to the Florida Keys, the Crayola Factory and Sea World.

Congratulations to Puppy Raiser Macy Nauman of the Cleveland West Region. 


Betsy and Falcon

New Jersey resident Betsy was born with congenital cataracts and glaucoma. Her vision loss has progressed throughout her lifetime and she is now totally blind. This month she was matched with a male black Labrador named Falcon.

At Rutgers University, Betsy received her bachelor’s degree along with additional certifications in corporate law, affirmative action and human resources. She works as a lead consultant in corporate diversity and inclusion at AT&T and her role requires her to travel often.

Betsy enjoys spending time with her nieces and singing and touring with her music chamber choir. This team will certainly enjoy an active and busy life together!

Congratulations to Puppy Raiser Jared Feingold of the New York City Region. 


James and Petey

Colorado resident James returns to Guiding Eyes for his fourth guide dog – yellow Labrador Petey.

James has been blind since birth due to rubella. He and his wife have a daughter and are expecting their son in April. James attended the New York Institute for the Blind and then spent many years doing voiceovers for radio stations.

James shares the difference between cane travel and working with a guide dog. “A cane provides tactile information and a better feel for your environment. The dog specializes in obstacle avoidance.” James looks forward to the future, especially with Petey by his side.

Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Susan & Chris Marshall and Kathleen Hayward of the Maine Region. 


Domonique and Taxi

Domonique was born blind and has what she describes as “enough vision to get myself in trouble.” She is working as an orientation and mobility instructor while completing her master’s degree in the field. In addition, she is a nanny and tutor to a blind student in Louisiana. Domonique will return home to Louisiana with Taxi, a male yellow Labrador. He is her third guide dog.

Her passions include reading, knitting, horseback riding, cooking and baking. She came to Guiding Eyes after observing the success of friends who graduated from the school. Domonique found the instructors to be kind and caring; they truly listened to her needs and designed training experiences that would be helpful in future real-life situations with Taxi. Domonique already adores Taxi, and continues to bond with him more each day.

Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Mike and Sharon Walker & Family of the Erie Region and Linda Johnson and Lynne Post of the Virginia Beach Region. 


Meredith and Nan

Meredith returns to North Carolina with her first guide dog – female black Labrador Nan. She was born with retinitis pigmentosa and Drusen disease and her vision continues to worsen. Meredith majored in art at Western Carolina University. In 2004, she focused her career on art and photography and now paints on a variety of surfaces including wood, metal, rocks, doors and oversized canvas.

Meredith is excited to introduce Nan to her very close family. She often finds inspiration from quotations and Nan inspired her to write, “Guide dogs are angels in fur coats!”

Congratulations to Puppy Raiser Carol Haas of the Eastern Connecticut Region. 


Ann and Frodo

Ann was matched with male black Labrador Frodo. A year after graduating from Iona College with a degree in accounting, Ann lost her vision in a car accident.

Ann went on to earn a master’s degree in management information systems. She has worked as a computer programmer, employment specialist and business analyst. She is a native New Yorker who now spends winters in Florida. Ann loves staying active and rows five days a week; she runs a rowing club for the disabled during her months in Florida. Ann and her husband will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in August, and Frodo will be with them to celebrate. There is already great chemistry between this team, and Ann finds his size, speed and intellect to be the perfect match.

Congratulations to Puppy Raiser Jeffrey Phelps of the Orange County Region. 


Blessing and Laramie

Blessing, 23, received Laramie, a male yellow Labrador. Blessing was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States at the age of six to receive treatment for his glaucoma. When he was 10, Blessing was shot with a water gun in his right eye, causing a detached retina and his vision to deteriorate completely.

Blessing grew up in Connecticut and then moved to Nashville where he attended Belmont University. After receiving a degree in commercial voice and music composition, he moved to New York City and is now happily pursuing his dreams of being in the music business. He loves to play the piano, write music, and spend time in the recording studio. He has a record deal with Sojourn Records and has released one album titled “Guilty Pleasure.” A second album will be released in the near future. When he’s not playing the piano or recording music, Blessing loves to explore New York City, cook and go to the gym.

Laramie will accompany Blessing on his travels throughout the country. Blessing shares, “A cane lacks awareness and only allows one to go so fast. With a guide dog, mobility becomes much easier and more graceful. I can allow my thoughts to wander knowing that Laramie will keep me safe. It’s an obscenely amazing experience.”

Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Elsie and Neil Davis of the Baltimore Region & The Caloway/Schuman Family of the Delmarva Region. 


Tom and Glynnis

Tom was matched with his first guide dog, a female black Labrador named Glynnis. Doctors are unable to determine the reason for Tom’s vision loss and his sight may continue to deteriorate.

Tom graduated from Plymouth State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He led the custom design team for a Harley Davidson dealership for many years. Now he’s switched over to the entertainment business, booking acts at local venues and often performing himself.

Tom is married and has two sons. He enjoys coaching their sports’ teams; Glynnis is soon to become a big sports fan!

Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Caislin & Muirgheal Wheeler of the Bay Region. 


Leslie and Glossy

Leslie and Glossy, a female black Labrador, will return home to Oregon. Leslie was born with congenital cataracts and later developed glaucoma. As a child, she lost all vision in her left eye and sees color, shadow and light in her right eye.

Leslie graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in comparative literature and a minor in German language. She works as an assistant dog trainer and administrator with Sunstone Service Dogs. Leslie is very active in her local community; she co-founded Willamette Valley Assistance Dog Club which provides community education and advocacy for adults with autism and people in wheelchairs or with mental health disabilities. She also serves on the governing board for the National Youth Leadership Network.

Glossy is her Leslie’s second guide dog and she is looking forward to sharing their lives. When they’re not working, they’ll enjoy knitting, reading, horseback riding, hiking and skiing.

Congratulations to Puppy Raisers Jim and Bobbie Havel of the Montgomery Region.