Meet Graduate Justin
August Home Training
Graduate Team: Justin and Ursula
About the Team: Ursula, a female black Lab, is Justin’s 1st guide dog
Hometown: Brookline, Massachusetts
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Kathy Rooney
Justin is 24 years old and from Brookline, Massachusetts, a part of the greater Boston metropolitan area. Blind since birth with moderate hearing loss, he comes to Guiding Eyes for his first guide dog. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, earning a Bachelor of Art in Religion. Justin states he has a calling to join the priesthood, and in following that call he is enrolled as a graduate student at Holy Cross College, Greek Orthodox School of Theology. In his down time, Justin’s hobbies include reading, with a special interest in the fantasy fiction genre, hanging out with his friends and watching programs on Netflix.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Ursula is my first guide dog. We just graduated from Guiding Eyes, but I already know that she is very playful -when she’s not working, she’s always interested in playing with my cat. She is also quite intelligent, very loyal, hardworking, and beautiful. I have received countless compliments on her appearance.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “In addition to my vision loss, I also have a moderate hearing deficit. In my search for a guide dog, I learned that Guiding Eyes was one of the very few schools willing to work with individuals with significant hearing loss.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s just been a couple of weeks since graduating home training with Ursula. We are both still learning and getting to know each other… bonding. Day by day I am gaining more confidence and trust in Ursula. As our getting to know each other continues to play out, I can tell that her impact on my life will become even greater. Although I felt I moved fast before Ursula, now I feel like I am flying with her leading the way. In addition, she is a good playmate and companion.
Were there any training highlights? “My trainer, Kathy Rooney, was legendary. We did a great amount of sidewalk work, and she enabled Ursula and me to navigate around quite freely. I learned that Ursula would not react and be distracted by other dogs or other animals nearby. This made our training very comfortable for Ursula and me.”
Meet Guide Dog Ursula
Litter ID: 4U20
Color/Breed: Black /Labrador
Littermates: Louis, Umberto, Ulysses, Uma
Region: Cleveland West
Regional Manager: Macy Nauman
Puppy Raiser: Julia Hofman, Kirstynn Hofman
Ursula was a strong, independent, eager puppy from the day we brought her home. I knew then that this girl was born for Guiding! I hope she brings her partner years of love and independence.
Julia Hofman, Puppy Raiser
Ursula was a great pup from the start. When we took her home she was already set up to be a great guide dog. We have very few problems raising her and she learned things very quickly.
Kirstynn Hofman, Puppy Raiser
Photos of the team: