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Fernando and Millie

Meet Graduate Fernando

Fernando is next to yellow Lab guide dog Millie as they sit for their team portraitGraduate Team: Fernando and Millie
About the Team: Millie, a female yellow Lab, is Fernando’s 2nd guide dog
Location: Taylor Ridge, Illinois
Training: February 2024 On-Campus

Fernando was born in Mexico but came to the United States and was raised in Illinois. He has been married to his wife Mickaela for five years, and they live in a small rural town near the Mississippi River and the Iowa border. Fernando holds a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Disability Services from Northern Illinois University. For the past seven years, he has been working as a contract closeout specialist through the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. His job entails supervising the delivery and payment of equipment, supplies, and services to the United States Army. Fernando lost his vision when he was 13 years old due to his first retinal detachment, which led to detachment in his other eye, leaving him with only light perception in both eyes. He enjoys spending time outdoors, walking or hiking. Millie is his second guide dog, but his first from Guiding Eyes.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Millie is a super friendly, playful lab who loves to work, and when not working she loves to cuddle. My wife and I have an Australian cattle dog as well and they have become best friends, playing and running around together.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “My best friend, Josh, is a graduate of Guiding Eyes and told me how amazing the program was. When I looked into Guiding Eyes, I saw how their program would be a perfect fit for me.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “I am more confident getting around and much better at avoiding crashing into things. I am much more independent than I was in the past.”

Were there any training highlights? “My training was a unique experience. Kat, my instructor, customized my training by replicating my rural home environment and overall lifestyle. The staff approached our group’s training in a relaxed manner which made me very comfortable. Also, I am very picky about my food and the kitchen staff did a great job of meeting my food preferences, the entire time I was on campus. I also love Dr. Pepper and Guiding Eyes made an extra effort to accommodate me by supplying my room with all the Dr. Pepper I could drink.”

Meet Guide Dog Millie

DOB:  11/26/2021
Litter ID: 5M321
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Sally
Stud: Charlie
Littermates: Mazie, Moira
Region:  Cleveland East
Regional Puppy Instructor: Macy Nauman
Puppy Raiser:  Megan Tzefronis and family, Rob Grodin, Sommer Toncler
Facebook: Ohio Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

My family and I had the pleasure of starting Millie. From her first day with us, Millie wanted to learn and quickly picked up new skills. We were impressed with her loose leash walking & ability to settle while we conversed with people in public. She’s a wonderful, sweet, eager pup who we adored getting to know. We know she’s destined to be a great guide dog and wish you both the best. Please give her a hug from her starter family.  ~ Megan Tzefronis 

Photos of the Team…