Graduate Team – Cindy and Jolee

 In 2021 Graduations, Graduations, News & Events

Thank you to our generous April Graduates Sponsor…

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.

– Richard Woods

Meet Home Training Graduate Cindy

Graduate Team: Cindy and JoleeGraduate Cindy and guide dog Jolee are all smiles for their team portrait
About the Team:  Jolee, a female black Lab, is Cindy’s 5th Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Chicago, Illinois
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Dave Hagemann

Cindy is retired after 34 years with the Chicago Public Schools, working with blind and visually impaired students. Her journey with Guiding Eyes started in 1996 with her first guide dog, Topaz, and led to her fifth and most recent, Jolee. Cindy and her husband, who is also visually impaired, enjoy being the grandparents of 2 young children, and happily anticipate a 3rd grandbaby, due any day. Cindy is a voracious reader of audiobooks and belongs to a club through the Illinois State Library. She enjoys listening to them during various activities, whether cooking, cleaning or knitting. She belongs to two knitting groups that have continued during Covid19, one meeting online and the other, in person by taking advantage of a nearby gazebo, when the Chicago weather permits.  After running out of knitting ideas when creating for friends and family, Cindy joined Crafty Angels, a group that donates her work to those in need, such as homeless individuals, the Merchant Marines, or those in women’s shelters.  

How would you describe your guide dog?  “I think she’s pretty smart! She loves tug-of-war and playfully protects her toys.  I live on a cul-de-sac that’s not very ‘pedestrian friendly’.  Jolee needs to take me through a parking lot to get to a sidewalk. I have a hearing impairment, as well as being totally blind, and can’t always pick up auditory cues. She’s really good at checking for traffic. I can tell how she holds her head, that she’s checking things out around us.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I was looking into two schools, but had a friend with a Guiding Eyes dog who inspired me to get my first guide dog. I liked that Guiding Eyes was less formal and even during my first experience, I felt like part of a family.  We had roommates back then, and my first roommate and I had a lot in common; both young mothers with husbands who were visually impaired. She and I are still in touch with each other after all these years.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Originally, I wanted a guide dog to help with down curbs. I’d go downtown and couldn’t always tell where the sidewalk met the street, then as outdoor cafés started popping up, there would suddenly be a table and chairs in front of me.  It’s really made a difference with ‘environmental obstacles’ as my hearing loss became more noticeable.  We live in a relatively open area and there is often the sound of wind in addition to the fountain running in the retention pond at our complex, plus we’re below a flight path for O’Hare Airport. Jolee picks up on the sounds I’m no longer able to.”

Were there any training highlights?  “My trip to the grocery store requires a long winding walk along Chicago’s North End, and the sidewalk leading to the store has a fire hydrant right in the middle of it. Our first time there, I warned my instructor who said, ‘let’s see how she does’. I gave the ‘go forward, hup, hup’ command, and she sized it up and led me to the left along the grassy side, rather than to the right adjacent to traffic.  I was pretty pleased and thought ‘Okay, she got that!’  She has also learned my spot on the bench at the gazebo, so I like that now I can walk to my knitting group myself.”

Meet Guide Dog Jolee

  • DOB: 10/1/2018
  • Tattoo ID: 5J318
  • Color/Breed: Black Labrador Retriever
  • Gender: Female
  • Brood:  Mia
  • Stud:  Finley
  • Littermates:  Jerome, Jazzy, Java, Jameson
  • Region: Southern CT
  • Regional Manager: Maureen Hollis
  • Puppy Raiser:  Laura Buchanan
  • Facebook:  Guiding Eyes Southern Connecticut Puppy Raisers
During training Jolee sits in the store and waits for the next steps in that day's journey

Jolee was super smart and seemed to understand any situation quickly. We spent a lot of time in Manhattan and she was unfazed by the street noises and crowds. I had an uncle who was sick at the time and Jolee charmed everyone during our many hospital and rehab center visits. Jolee was awesome when we attended a July 4th fireworks display (pre-Covid) on the beach and she fell asleep on the sand within minutes. My favorite part was at home in the evenings when Jolee would rest her head on my lap, fall asleep, and begin snoring! I received tremendous support from my RM Maureen and RC Rose and the other raisers. It was a privilege to be part of the GEB community and to raise Jolee.

Laura Buchanan, Puppy Raisers of Jolee

Enjoy these photos of the team and Jolee as a pup on program…

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.

Deborah and Guide Dog AmesThomas and guide dog Velvet