In memory of my wife, Barbara Woods, who loved dogs and Guiding Eyes. Through our entire marriage, we have had dogs, usually two at a time, and enjoyed them! Sponsoring the graduating class is a perfect way to honor her memory.
Angel resides in Queens and recently earned his Master’s in Vocational Rehabilitation, a degree he’s been working towards since 2017. A skilled and devoted student of Jiu Jitsu, Angel trains 3 – 4 times a week and also teaches when needed. He is the first blind person to receive a purple belt at the academy he attends. His love for this martial art led Angel to start a nonprofit, No Limits Jiu Jitsu Foundation, which provides quality instruction in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the visually impaired and veterans with disabilities. For the past 8 years, Angel has volunteered as Manager of Internet radio station, HeatFMRadio.com, working on programming, among other things. He not only brings in individuals to do shows, but he also has his own, including a relaxation music show, Rendezvous, and a comedy show based on the personality of his former pet Yorkie, Petey.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Guiding Eyes made a good match placing Sigmund with me. He’s alert, funny, and self-assured. He’s very smart and a quick thinker and in or out of harness, he loves the world. There’s never a down moment with this guy; he sees all the world as a nice place.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I had met a few people who had guide dogs from Guiding Eyes, and I liked what I saw. It was then that I saw myself with a Guiding Eyes dog, as well. In 1987 I received my first guide dog from here and Sigmund is my seventh. I can still recite all their names.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “A guide dog gives me freedom! I think of it as driving a car versus riding a bicycle. It allows me to do more. I am a very fast walker, and Sigmund has great ‘pull’. Every blind person has the need to get from point A to point B. A guide dog provides more options to get there.”
Were there any training highlights? “I enjoyed my time at Guiding Eyes. The two weeks went so fast and a lot of work was done! I understand why current classes are kept to a shorter length of time, but I would have been happy to stay for another week. The spring weather was colder and wetter than I had planned, but Shannon, our instructor, was very versatile and kept us working when we needed to move inside. The whole staff was very nice. I liked the new ramp to the dining room and I learned more about the importance of the balanced use of the treat pouch. Overall, it was a really nice experience.”
From the start, Sigmund was an easy going, happy, full of energy puppy who grew to be a big, powerful, lively boy who enjoyed learning and having new experiences. He loved training outings to special places such as Dulles International Airport, the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Colonial Williamsburg and the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, yet he loved being at home, exploring around our farm land and “helping” me in the garden. He especially loved playing and running with his best buds, GEB releases Barry and Banner Harvey and he got great joy out of dipping in and out of his play pool and riding around in our golf cart. I guess that sums up how I feel about Sig — a big, happy lover of life and all it has to offer! Now he has entered a new stage which I know he will love and embrace just as much. I know he will grow to love his new handler and family and share many new, happy experiences with them. I know he will love the challenge and stimulation of his daily guide work. And I know he will continue to be my happy “big boy”. Wishing you and your new partner only the best and much love and success to you, Sig.
Kristin Meredith, Puppy Raiser of Sigmund
Meet our other recent guide dog team graduates. Click here!
Friends and Family: Watch this video to learn more about Working with a Guide Dog Team.