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Jose and Josette

Meet Home Training Graduate Jose

Graduate Jose sits on a park bench with his beautiful guide JosetteGraduate Team:  Jose and Josette
About the Team:  Josette, a female black and tan German Shepherd, is Jose’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Brooklyn,  New York
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Dan Weezner

Jose came to Guiding Eyes for his first guide dog, and when partnered with a beautiful German Shepherd named Josette, he acknowledged the comical aspect of receiving a dog that not only matched his needs, but his name as well. Jose is employed as the Program Associate of an Innovative Senior Center in Manhattan, assisting older adults who are blind or visually impaired.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Penn State University and aspires to obtain his master’s degree. As he contemplates his next steps, he recognizes the need to embrace technology and how it will factor into the direction of his career path. Jose enjoys Martial Arts, and his experience with Karate and Judo has not only helped him learn about himself, but also what he’s capable of. He shares, “At the end of the day, it’s just about giving it my best.” He’s proud of himself and how he has been able to “hang in there” since his vision loss and is inspired by the difference Josette has already made in his life.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Josette is energetic and very, very motivated. She’s also very curious. When out of harness she’s so playful, yet when she’s in harness it’s all business. It’s so funny to see the parallel between the two.  One of her favorite toys is a tennis ball and that definitely brings out her goofy side.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “My family and fiancé have been super supportive throughout this process, helping me research guide dog schools and make that decision to go with Guiding Eyes. The school seemed like a good fit because Yorktown would be close by if, before the pandemic, I were in a residential class, but more importantly, I am legally blind with low vision. Not everyone was willing to accept a student with low vision, but I feel Guiding Eyes understands that we also have a real need to work with a guide dog.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “I feel more confident with Josette and my fiancé has mentioned how differently I am traveling now, even after such a short time. I do more at night, whereas before, all my scheduling was based on how soon it would get dark, because navigating at night is so difficult. Recently, when Josette and I were walking with my fiancé, there had been hanging wires in our path and Josette just maneuvered me around them. I had no idea they were there! Just incredible.  I feel like I’m back to walking the same way I did before the vision loss from RP and my time using a cane. Josette’s pace and manner of walking feels so familiar.  She weaves through people and around things just as I did; she was born for walking in New York City. I can look straight ahead as she works, which really helps with my eye fatigue.”

Were there any training highlights? “My trainer Dan gave me the opportunity to wear a blindfold out on the route. Being in the blindfold and not able to rely on any of my limited vision, reinforced how incredible she is. It was such a humbling experience. When Dan told me she had maneuvered us around boxes and a chair in the middle of the sidewalk, it was an incredible moment.”

Meet Guide Dog Josette

Guide dog JosetteJosette has so many wonderful qualities – intelligent, loyal and intuitive. I had two foot surgeries during the time I was raising her.  She was adaptable to whatever I was able to do with her – how I moved or what I was using, (a walker or boot). She was always patient with me – not an easy thing for a young dog, but Josette handled the changes beautifully. Some of my favorite outings with Josette were when she was young.  I just loved watching her go to new places, experience new and different things and feel good about herself.  As she matured, I enjoyed seeing how she could participate in classes in four different regions, with different handers, around different groups of dogs.  By the time she left, she was relaxed and responsive. I loved to watch her play, using her front paws, because she made me laugh. I enjoyed teaching her new things or just having her hang out by my feet.  I enjoy the relationships that I have with these young puppies, getting to know and appreciate their unique personalities and the challenge to help each puppy be the best she can be.

Leslie Stephens, Regional Mgr. and Puppy Raiser of Josette

Enjoy these photos of the team and Josette 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.