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Emma and Holly

Meet Graduate Emma

Emma and black Lab guide dog Holly sit for team portraitGraduate Team: Emma and Holly
About the Team: Holly, a female black lab, is Emma’s 1st guide dog
Location: Canton, Connecticut
Training: February 2023 On-Campus

Emma is a sociology major in her sophomore year at Harvard on the pre-law track, and she hopes to become a lawyer within the field of disability law. She co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Disability Justice Club, (HUDJ), whose goals include providing resources for students with visible/invisible disabilities. She has a leadership role on the women’s wrestling team and loves how accessible and blind-friendly the team is. When she’s not in class or participating in extracurriculars, she enjoys spending time with her friends in her dorm on campus, which is the place to be, since she has plenty of snacks and her guide dog Holly. She also loves reading, writing, martial arts, wrestling, thrifting, storytelling, and public speaking. Emma has a close-knit family, which consists of her parents, younger brother, two dogs Jupiter and Jasper, and six chickens. She recently took an interest in watercolor painting while at home during a school break, when she and her mom did an arts and crafts day together.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Holly has such a big personality, and I love it so much. She’s spunky, full of energy, and opinionated, and she’s like a different dog when she’s in harness versus off. In harness, she’s focused and knows what she wants to do. She has a lot of drive, and she loves targeting. She’s excited to show me anything, which I love. Off harness, she’s so excited to play with everyone and she’s sociable, cuddly, and affectionate. She’s amazing, smart, and the best guide dog I could possibly ask for.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I had been thinking about getting a guide dog for a long time, and I was worried that my level of residual vision would make it too difficult. I ended up calling basically every guide dog school in the country and asked about their program and if I’d be a good fit for the school. Guiding Eyes stood out to me as a place where everyone seemed kind and helpful. The Running Guides program was a huge draw for me – just the idea of being able to navigate independently, and not only that, run independently. After doing a lot of research and talking to my friends who had guide dogs, I felt strongly that a guide dog would give me a sense of independence, freedom, and confidence, and I feel like I was right. It’s incredible, I’m so thankful for everyone at Guiding Eyes.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “She makes me feel less stressed. There are new concerns when having a guide dog versus a cane, like public access, but navigating the world, I’m not freaked out anymore when I see a crowd of people. I’m less scared to cross streets and intersections. I can go to new places with her, and it’s so much more freeing. It’s also having another being to help me make judgment calls and make sure things are safe. It’s interesting, I don’t want to discredit the cane because a lot of things I can figure out with one, it just took a lot of time and was stress-provoking. I knew if I was passing somewhere like a construction zone, which is frequent on campus, it would hold me up for a long time and take a lot of mental energy to try to figure it out. With Holly, it’s so much smoother. One of the things I really love is that we walk fast together, which I have never been able to do. I always used to follow people or figure out what the people around me were doing so I could use clues like that, but when Holly and I are traveling with people, I’m the one in front with her leading. I never realized how fast of a walker I was until I had her.”

Were there any training highlights? “The whole training experience was magical. I had Shannon and Michelle as instructors and both of them were amazing, so kind, helpful, and thorough. Between the instructors and my class, which was small with only four people including me, we had so many inside jokes. It was like a bubble of happiness. It was wonderful and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. I’m so grateful to everyone who was a part of it and for the class experience.”

Meet Guide Dog Holly

DOB:  4/8/2021
Litter ID: 5H21
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Onyx
Stud: Shadow
Littermates: Hickory, Hannah, Honey, Houston, Hamilton
Region:  Columbus
Regional Puppy Instructor: Leslie Stephens
Puppy Raiser: Hailey Magenheim
Facebook: Columbus Ohio Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Holly was the fifth puppy I have raised and was extra special because she is the daughter of the first puppy I raised, Onyx. It was so amazing to raise a grandpuppy as I could see so many of her mom’s traits in her. Holly took on the first year of veterinary school at Ohio State with me and did a great job sleeping through my lectures and putting up with lots of body handling work as I practiced physical exams. It wasn’t all work and no play—we went on many fun outings; on our last day together, we explored NYC where Holly showed me that she was ready for the next step in her journey. Holly is the sweetest, smartest, and smallest Labrador I know, and I am sure that she and Emma will do great things together! ~ Hailey Magenheim, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…