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Karen and Justin

Thank you to our generous May Graduates Sponsor…

“The University of Rhode Island Puppy Raisers Club wishes the graduate teams good luck in their new partnerships!”

Meet May Residential Training Graduate Karen

Graduate Karen stands at the stone wall on the Yorktown campus with guide JustinGraduate Team: Karen and Justin
About the Team: Justin, a male black Lab, is Karen’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown: Indiana, Pennsylvania
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Amy DiPalo

Karen is married and the mother of four adult children and grandmother of five. She loves to be as independent as she can possibly be, despite having very low vision her entire life. Karen enjoys time in the kitchen cooking and baking. She also enjoys swimming, working outdoors tending to her yard and listening to audio books in the evening. She is very involved with her church and related activities. Karen and her husband love to travel, always with her guide dog by her side. She looks forward to adventures with Justin, whether traveling by plane to different destinations or by cruise ship across the oceans.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Justin is a very good working dog; very alert and anxious to please. He makes me feel safe, secure and content. When off-harness he loves to play, fetch and run and is an all-around gentle dog. He’s always near me and loves to be really close, resting his chin on my knee whenever given the opportunity!”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog at Guiding Eyes? “I liked what I read in reviews about the school; how they are really attentive to the breeding side of things and the matching process, as well as the more personal instruction offered. I found everyone involved in the whole process, from trainers to kitchen staff, were really friendly and helpful.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Without a guide I tend to feel afraid. It’s a privilege to have a guide dog, as they’re so invaluable to me, allowing me to be the person I am. They never cease to amaze with how they use their intelligence and senses to take you where you need to go – even to a particular place or product area in a store!  People love them. They’re the celebrity – we’re just the sidecar compared to the dog when we travel. On one cruise, they put balloons above the dining table they were so excited to have my previous guide dog on the trip!”

Were there any training highlights? “When training and walking at night, a quiet car approached and although I couldn’t hear it, Justin saw it and stopped. This was a good experience in learning to trust your dog.  In class, the trainers were very patient and friendly and treated us with respect, so the training was very enjoyable. I was treated so kindly by everyone; they make you feel relaxed.”

Meet Guide Dog Justin

When I picked Justin up as a very little puppy at Guiding Eyes, they told me that he was extra-special. They were so right! Justin has a loving nature, high energy, and a willingness to try anything I asked of him. He loves to be around his favorite people. One of his greatest strengths is his eagerness to learn. We live in a rural area, so our first trips into the nearby (small) city were a totally new experience for Justin. He was a little nervous at first, but quickly adapted to the noise and new people. Our most enjoyable outings were his many play dates with his fellow Guiding Eyes puppies.  I know you will love Justin as much as I do. When you both have some free time, he’s just as good at snuggling as he is at playing, so whatever you’re in the mood for, he will enjoy doing!

Julie Gann, Puppy Raiser of Justin

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