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February 2015 Graduating Class

February 2015 Graduation
February 2015 Graduating Class


 Thank you to the sponsors of this month’s graduation:

Residential Graduates:
Alice and Nash
Angel and Ripley
Cindy Lou and Vanilla
Deborah and Wayne
Fred and Harley
Guillermo and Dakota
Judy and Prince
Krista and Beauty
Victoria and Peppy
Albert and Vaughn
Barbara and Brandy

Home Training Graduates:
Christine and Albert
Rita and Pamela

Many thanks to our instructors:
Ben Cawley, Class Supervisor
Caryn Fellows, Support Instructor
Nicolette Wentz, Class Instructor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Mike Goehring, Home Training Field Representative
Chrissy Vetrano, Home Training Instructor
Alex Wallitsch, Instructor Assistant

Cindy Lou and Vanilla

Pennsylvania resident Cindy Lou is matched with her first guide dog, a female yellow Labrador named Vanilla.

Cindy Lou was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa less than two months after she married her husband of now 18 years. She is a trained hairdresser and managed an inn in Vermont before her current career as a call center operator supporting 30 locations. Cindy Lou is very active with Guiding Eyes for the Blind. She became a puppy raiser 15 years ago and has helped to raise 17 dogs. She is also the Guiding Eyes Puppy Sitter Coordinator for the Baltimore Region. Her vision loss isn’t stopping her active lifestyle; Cindy runs 5K races with her husband and coordinates motorcycle fundraisers for blindness organizations. She enjoys crafts, reading and baking cookies. Vanilla allows her to look up and see the world with fewer limitations. Her motto is, “I can and I am!” She is excited to introduce Vanilla to her husband and their two cats at home.

Congratulations to Vanilla’s puppy raisers – The Patterson Family!

Guillermo and Dakota 

Guillermo lives in Florida with his wife and daughter. Dakota, a male German shepherd, is Guillermo’s first guide dog.

Guillermo relocated from Cuba to the United States ten years ago to provide a better life for his family. He had sight until the age of 20 when multiple seizures left him totally blind. He is a licensed massage therapist and recently completed a vending machine program. He will have a route, hire a car and operate multiple locations. He stays very active and enjoys exercising, walking, swimming and listening to music. His mobility skills with a cane are good, but working with Dakota is better. With Dakota, Guillermo can move with more fluidity. He is looking forward to commuting with Dakota – particularly navigating their challenging train station.

Congratulations to Dakota’s puppy raisers – Christie Murphy & Family, and Faith Stiles!

Krista and Beauty

Krista is matched with her third guide dog, a female yellow Labrador named Beauty.  Her 13-year-old twins are waiting in Michigan with her retired guide and everyone is excited to welcome Beauty into the family.

Krista has congenital cataracts and glaucoma. She grew up with a visual impairment and always felt different, a feeling that led to her career choice. She graduated from Albion College with a Masters in clinical psychology and earned her PhD from the University of Missouri at Columbia. She is the clinical psychologist for an outpatient mental health clinic where her prime focus is women and teens with eating disorders. She walks at least three miles a day, hikes, reads and enjoys the drama of reality TV. At her last class at Guiding Eyes she was a member of the accelerated ACTION program because her children were only 4. She shares, “This time I could take the three weeks off work and away from home. I am enjoying the extra time to bond with Beauty.” She is looking forward to the young dog’s excitement to work and is very happy to be able to keep her retired guide.

Congratulations to Beauty’s puppy raiser – Joan Morehouse!

Barbara and Brandy

Barbara traveled from Massachusetts for Brandy, a female black Labrador and her sixth guide dog. She is participating in the accelerated ACTION program and is excited to have the mix of class and home training. Barbara was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy at age 19. She was a pre-med student and began having difficulty focusing the microscope and seeing the blackboard. Both retinas ultimately detached and she is now totally blind. Barbara majored in psychology and earned her Master’s degree in social work from Amherst College. She is a consultant and began her career training doctors on how to deal with patients who are blind or visually impaired. She also works with museums on universal accessibility design.  One client saw her video on diversity and hired her as a diversity training instructor. She is an avid reader and is in the process of writing a book. Brandy loves working and loves kids. Barbara is excited to return home and take Brandy with her to presentations at the local schools.

Congratulations to Brandy’s puppy raisers – Gail and David Parrish!

Judy and Prince

Judy was matched with a male yellow Labrador named Prince; the team will return home to North Carolina.

Judy has degenerative vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in library science from Purdue and a Master’s degree in the same discipline from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She works in a low vision center educating clients on available resources for the blind and visually impaired while helping them deal with the emotional aspects of vision loss. Judy enjoys reading and going to the movies. Her granddaughter loves sharing stories about Prince and can’t wait to finally meet him. Judy is looking forward to an exciting spring. Her neighborhood sidewalk has been changed so many times that navigating a trip to the grocery store became impossible. Prince will easily guide her around the construction obstacles and give Judy the mobility that a cane cannot provide in a construction zone.

Congratulations to Prince’s puppy raisers – Kevin & Evelyn Ray and Aaron Bowes & Family!

Debbie and Wayne

Debbie is matched with her first guide dog, yellow Lab Wayne.  Her husband is home in North Carolina and counting the days until they return.

Debbie’s vision loss is caused by MS. She was diagnosed in 2006 and lost all of her vision four years later. Some vision has returned yet she cannot identify anything that is black. Her brain sees things that are black as a hole. She earned her Master’s degree in nursing and worked for 20 years when she became eligible for retirement. She enjoys walking, cooking and travel. Debbie and her husband plan to do a lot of traveling with trips to Europe, the Mediterranean, Greece and Canada all on the calendar. She loves the freedom Wayne brings to her life. She shares, “I give him the command ‘chair’ and in 2 minutes we are seated. It would take me 20 minutes to find an empty chair with my cane.” Wayne is the gentle giant she wanted and Debbie’s future is bright.

Congratulations to Wayne’s puppy raisers – Mr. & Mrs. James McCauley!

Fred and Harley

Fred lives in Pennsylvania. He is matched with a black Labrador named Harley, his first guide dog.

Fred has atypical retinitis pigmentosa which affected his central vision first. He earned his undergraduate degree in music from Colby College and his Masters in Arts Administration from Drexel University. He spent eight years working in marketing and public relations for the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia before transitioning to Verizon where he is a programmer/analyst. His favorite pastime is music. Fred performs in two acoustic bands singing, playing mandolin, fiddle, banjo and guitar and he sings in a chorus. Life with a cane became tedious and his wife noticed she was guiding him most of the time. It was time to get a guide dog. His son and daughter are grown and he is looking forward to being a couple again with Harley taking on the responsibility for his safety.

Congratulations to Harley’s puppy raisers – The Weinhaus Family!

Angel and Ripley

Angel and her first guide dog, a black Labrador named Ripley, will return home to Florida.

Angel has optic nerve atrophy. She earned an Associate’s degree in English and double majored in literature and sociology for her Bachelor’s degree at Florida State University. She is an avid writer and is in the process of publishing her first book. She loves animals, books and research. Angel has a talent for solving puzzles and enjoys a challenge. She is looking forward to going home and being able to travel around town easily. There are sections that are difficult to maneuver with a cane. Ripley lets Angel concentrate on what she plans to accomplish instead of thinking about the places she can’t easily get to. Angel sees a future without limits.

Congratulations to Ripley’s puppy raiser – Ms. Tangerine W. Mooney!

Vickie and Peppy

New Yorker Vickie was matched with male yellow Lab Peppy, her second guide dog. Peppy will have the companionship of her retired guide when he isn’t working.

At the age of 28, Vickie was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. She started with night blindness and progressed to cataracts and then lost her peripheral vision.  She graduated from Pace University with her RN and worked as the children’s librarian at Putnam Valley library. She met her current husband in the choir and together they have four grown daughters. Vickie enjoys reading and audio books, playing board games, crochet and traveling with her husband. She shares, “I would have been more of a recluse without my guide dogs. I love to make presentations at schools and educate people about guide dogs.” Peppy lives up to his name and walks with a lot of pep. She trusts him and can walk and enjoy the journey.

Congratulations to Peppy’s puppy raisers – DeAnna & Andrew Moore!

Alice and Nash

Pennsylvania resident Alice was matched with male yellow Labrador Nash, her sixth guide dog.

Alice was born three months early and retinopathy of prematurity causes her blindness. Her parents found a local school for the blind with half day sessions. During the second half of the day, Alice went to a Catholic school which was across the street. She graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a degree in sociology and a secondary discipline in English literature. She has been married for 34 years, enjoys a career with the VA as a transcriptionist, likes to read, sing in the choir, is a member of the Lion’s Club and the local Lioness Club and Catholic Guild and Catholic League for Persons with Disabilities. Alice has seen a phenomenal amount of improvements in Guiding Eyes’ guide dog training program. She likes the new obedience commands and the new harness commands are very effective. She is keeping her retired guide and can’t wait to introduce Nash to her. They will be wonderful companions for each other.

Congratulations to Nash’s puppy raiser – Megan R. Chapin!

Congratulations to the raisers of the guide dogs placed through February Home Trainings:
Pamela: Venecia Salguero and Morgan Vail
Albert: Katie Meuer
Vaughn: Allison Kraynak