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Hailey and Cleo

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

Hailey and Cleo’s training was sponsored by Mary Focacci in memory of Henry Focacci, a committed educator.

Meet April Residential Training Graduate Hailey

New grad Hailey is all smiles on campus with guide dog CleoGraduate Team: Hailey and Cleo
About the Team: Cleo, a female black Lab, is Hailey’s 1st guide dog
Hometown: Delmar, New York
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Marybeth Heady

Hailey was born in Massachussetts, but lived most of her early years in Connecticut. When she was 13, Hailey and her family moved to New York and they now reside in a suburb of Albany. Hailey loves sports, and enjoys horseback riding, as well as being a member of her high school track team, where she throws shot-put and discus. She also enjoys music, and has played piano for many years. A “soon-to-be high school graduate”, she is headed to Marist College this fall to study Psychology. Once she earns her bachelor’s degree, Hailey plans to attend graduate school to become an Occupational Therapist, and hopes to work with elementary-aged children.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Cleo is such a determined, hard-worker. She’s thrilled to work; she just really likes her job. She gets so excited when I pick up the harness. If I even just move it slightly, she’s right by my hip ready to go. She is very contained while on harness, but is so much fun when she is not working. She likes to play with tennis balls and loves anything thrown from her Chuckit! toy. Her puppy raisers were nice enough to send us a set of Chuckit! toys, just like the ones she loved as a puppy, and she is just obsessed with them.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I was in middle-school when we moved to New York, and at the time we didn’t have a lot of information about my vision or diagnosis. As we started to learn more, we also learned about all the resources available to me and that I could one day get a guide dog. When I found that out, I just knew I wanted to get a dog. We looked at a few different guide dog schools, but I just liked Guiding Eyes and it felt like the right place. It felt less like a school and more homey.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Definitely the independence, and the freedom and not having to rely on other people. I love knowing that I can just get up and go. Cleo has met a good handful of my family and friends so far and she loves them. I live with my mom, two younger siblings and our pet dog, and they all get along so great. Cleo will be meeting many other friends and family members later this summer and we’re really looking forward to that.”

Were there any training highlights? “The moment the instructor removed her training leash, and I was on my own with Cleo, was like the best moment of my life. I also really enjoyed the bus trip, because all of the skills we learned are going to translate well to my home area. I take the bus a lot, so I was so happy to have those under my belt.”

Meet Guide Dog Cleo

Cleo is very willing, always trying to please humans, and she is also very independent and confident, including near heavy traffic. Cleo is athletic; she swims just for the joy of it, catches frisbee-like toys on the fly, and loved running an agility course. She enjoys play, often greeting us with a toy first thing in the morning or when we returned from an errand. While in the puppy program, Cleo had a wide variety of outings, from fairly demanding ones such as Portland’s Old Port and the airport, to fun ones like walks on the beach and in the Maine woods; she made weekly visits to a group home for senior mentally ill individuals as an “unofficial therapy dog”. Her most memorable outing, however, was encountering a Fire Department crew responding to an office building we were visiting and posing for a picture with the crew once their work was done. It’s so much fun to watch a pup develop; the pups give us so much and teach us as much as we teach them. Best wishes to the team for safe and happy mobility!

Larry and Janet Amberger, Puppy Raisers of Cleo

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