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Judy and Orville

Thank you to our generous January 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 Graduate Judy

Graduate Judy and black Lab guide dog OrvilleGraduate Team: Judy and Orville
About the Team: Orville, a male black Lab, is Judy’s 3rd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Asheville, North Carolina
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Katherine Russell
January On-Campus Training

Judy was born and raised in Logansport, Indiana. She attended college at Purdue University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in school media services. She pursued a graduate degree in library services at Clarion University. She relocated to Asheville, North Carolina in 1998, where she raised two daughters, now adults. Judy works part time as a daily living skills instructor, on a contract basis, for North Carolina’s state agency for the visually impaired. She provides emotional support, as well as technology training, for clients with recent vision loss. Judy’s hobbies include reading and taking long walks. She describes herself as a voracious reader. Her latest favorite book which she highly recommends to others, is Project Hail Mary, a sci-fi thriller, authored by Andy Weir. Her food interest is chocolate; her favorite being Dove’s dark chocolate. Judy is an active volunteer in her community, providing low vision support to a local group by facilitating meetings in Asheville twice monthly. She is also giving back to the greater community by donating her platelets every 2-3 weeks, driven by the fact that donated blood was needed to help her daughter survive birth complications. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Orville is fast, which enables me to pick up my pace when I am walking. He is very demonstrative and affectionate. When I bend over to care for him, he will lick my ear. I love it.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Actually, Orville is my third Guiding Eyes dog. Prince, my prior dog, had to be retired because he has slowed down considerably. I have had Prince for nearly seven years, and he will remain a beloved family member in my home.  Guiding Eyes throughout the years has been outstanding. Their staff knows me and my particular needs so well, which enabled them to be successful in selecting a guide dog for me.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Orville has expanded my ability to walk as far as I wish to go. Walking is one of my favorite activities. Orville has enabled me to traverse my community with greater ease and has learned to steer me away from sidewalks that have telephone poles actually located in the middle of a walkway.  On a different note, when I heard that I was going to receive a dog named Orville, I thought it was kind of an unusual name. That said, North Carolina was the famous test site for the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilber. The state’s slogan is First in Flight; turns out it is a good omen.”

Were there any training highlights? “My training at the Guiding Eyes campus was cut short by two and a half days due to inclement weather, impacting travel. What makes this remarkable, is that Guiding Eyes has scheduled additional training in my home in the coming weeks to make certain that all aspects of training are completed and that everything is going smoothly. My trainer, Katherine Russell, was attentive while she took me for training off campus in Mt. Kisco, Yorktown, and White Plains, which is a bigger city. We also had lunch with the CEO of Guiding Eyes, Thomas Panek. He asked my graduating group to provide suggestions and feedback.”

Meet Guide Dog Orville

Orville is a happy-go-lucky, fun-loving pup who adapts well to any situation. He was our “Covid puppy” so we didn’t get to take him to as many classes and outings as we would have liked, but he was a great companion to us during a difficult time. While Orville was with us we adopted Phil, who had been released from training by Guiding Eyes, and the two quickly became best friends. We are very proud of Orville’s success and we wish Judy and Orville a long and happy life together!

Don and Joanne Shephard, Puppy Raisers of Orville


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