May On-Campus Training
Graduate Team: James and Judge
About the Team: Judge, a male black Lab, is Jimmy’s 2nd guide dog from Guiding Eyes
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Miranda Beckmann
Jimmy is originally from Kentucky. He is a self-employed craftsman, and together with his wife Gina, the owner of J&G Hooves & Paws LLC. Jimmy makes custom horse tack and dog leashes. Their business enables him to feel empowered and continue his craft, which Jimmy learned from his grandfather prior to losing his vision. He proudly makes Biothane leashes for Guiding Eyes, as well as the “long lines” used by Guiding Eyes puppy raisers and leashes for the running guides! When creating the items, he operates his 2 sewing machines and 3 presses. He loves the social aspect of his business, as well as being productive.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Judge is my second guide dog from Guiding Eyes. He is a big dog that loves life! We recently took our first hike together and he did great, even with a river crossing. He and our little pet dog get along great too.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “When I lost my vision, I was living alone in rural Kentucky and received training in using a cane. I love animals and have always been around them. After meeting someone with a guide dog, getting a dog of my own seemed like a perfectly natural solution. I researched guide dog schools and ultimately selected Guiding Eyes. It was the right choice! I got my first guide dog, Tripp, in 2012. Guiding Eyes is a school and a family. The support beyond graduation is excellent and I have enjoyed the friendships formed, including with Tripp’s puppy raiser.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “My guide dogs have impacted my life in all ways, including safety, independence and companionship. I can travel safely and walk at night. The dog is a very special companion. I often travel to Kentucky and Ohio. Tripp and now Judge, have made that possible.”
Were there any training highlights? “All of training was a highlight! I met Judge the day I arrived and walked with him the second day. We visited Cold Spring, NY, where Judge and I safely practiced navigating the train platform. With our 3 classmates and their guides we also attended an accessible movie at The Prospector theater in Ridgefield, CT. When our class graduated, Thomas Panek, President & CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, spoke. In his remarks he referred to me as Jimmy Leash (vs. Leach), that was both a highlight and a compliment!”
Judge was the 3rd dog we have raised for GEB and the first dog raised by our son Colin. He was our quarantine puppy, brought home from NY in mid-March 2020! His endless enthusiasm kept us entertained as our older children returned from college to study at home. He loved to play with his “siblings”: our older pet, 2 released dogs, and even overlapped with another older dog who passed IFT but housed with us until the kennels reopened. He often wagged more than just his tail, his whole body wagged when he was excited. He did very well in his training with us, building his skills and confidence as we were able to return to outings and in person class. We loved having Judge as part of our family and are so proud of the great work he will do! Wishing all the best to the amazing team of Jimmy and Judge!
The Smith Family, Puppy Raisers of Judge
We raised Judge for a short time so I wish I had more stories to tell about him! He was a very active pup, who always wanted to play with our 2 older big retired Guiding Eyes labs, Hero and Kiyo! Judge loved to play and tease them, they tolerated him and would play but not as much as Judge wanted to! He enjoyed going for walks to our nearby beach and we introduced him to the ocean … he totally enjoyed this! Before we knew it our time with him was over … we are so excited that he is going to graduate as a Guide dog … he’s a beautiful boy and will make an awesome partner!
Debra and Stephen Nolan, Puppy Raisers of Judge