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Joseph and Arya

Meet November Home Training Graduate Joseph

Joseph & guide AryaGraduate Team: Joseph and Arya
About the Team: Arya, a female black & tan German Shepherd is Joe’s 6th Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Buffalo, New York
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Lisa Derleth

Joe lives in the Buffalo area of New York State with his wife and guide dog Arya. Joe is retired from a career in Assistive Technology and customer service; therefore, his family relies on him as the guru for all technology related problems. In his free time Joe is a ham radio operator and enjoys chatting with people around the area. Joe also enjoys reading and participating in the Festival Chorus of Western NY with his wife.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Arya is a very serious worker, but when she’s off duty she definitely knows how to have fun and be silly. She’s sweet – to Arya, if you are a stranger, you are simply a friend she hasn’t been acquainted with yet. On Thanksgiving morning when a friend stopped by, she was so excited to see him she was running circles in excitement. I’m a big believer in, when a dog is off duty, she has to be allowed to be a dog, because that’s what she is first and foremost. Arya also has a very active tongue. She loves to lick!”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “When I got my first guide dog in 1992, it was after doing a summer program at UB, (University at Buffalo), learning assistive technology and observing folks who had guide dogs from Guiding Eyes. I thought, ‘there has got to be better than this stick.’  The decision to come to Guiding Eyes was really from observing and asking questions of the people that had already gone there. One had a Shepherd, one a yellow Lab and the other a black Lab. I applied and the rest is history. My first guide was a male black Lab named Aaron. I kept coming back after that because I liked the comfort and security of being out, travelling and crossing streets in the neighborhood. Whether it be a large city like NYC or Buffalo, or not, it is a comfort knowing the dog is there. If you treat the dog right, they’ll look out for you and do the job well. That’s what keeps us coming back.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s impacted my life in many positive ways. It’s somewhat like being a celebrity, because not everyone walks around the earth with six legs. People always ask questions like, ‘what’s the dog’s name, is it a boy or girl, what breed is it, how old is the dog?’ Arya is so attentive to me and reads me well. She does the steering for going around people and objects. If I want to make a major directional turn, I’ll tell her and start to adjust my body. She is very attuned to me.”

Were there any training highlights?  “One of the last days of training we were walking in the park and it felt almost like we were flying. We were coasting down the sidewalk, and I left Lisa and my wife in the dust. I can go on cruise control, so to speak, with Arya. It was like, ‘Wow, I have this back. I can just go.’  It felt good; we work together flawlessly. Having the feeling of being able to cruise at a nice comfortable walking speed that I couldn’t comfortably do with a cane, is amazing. Another highlight of training would be when Lisa brought her to meet me at my house. Arya came in and was so calm and so accepting. Almost like she was testing the waters in that moment.”

Meet Guide Dog Arya

Arya is the first shepherd we raised, and we were totally spoiled by her. She is such a fun, laid back and loving little girl. She quickly became totally obsessed with playing fetch with her green squeaky ball, which she had to squeak many times before giving it up for the next throw. She loves to take hikes, play in the snow, be outside all day, play with other puppies and be with us wherever we are. Whenever we socialized her, everyone would come up to us and say how well behaved and beautiful she is with her long coat, and Arya sure loved that attention. We send all our good wishes and love to her and her new partner. We are so excited for the many adventures that lie ahead of them.

Ann, Julia and Caroline Halburion, Puppy Raiser of Arya

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