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Karen and Ohana

Meet Graduate Karen

Karen happily sits in a chair with her black Lab guide dog Ohana sitting at her feetGraduate Team:   Karen and Ohana
About the Team:   Ohana is a female, black Lab and Karen’s 1st guide dog
Location:   Arvada, Colorado
Training:   March 2024 On-Campus

Karen is enjoying the companionship and responsibility of receiving her first guide dog later in life. Her story is ultimately one of courage and strength, having faced the trials and consequences of addiction in her early years. She credits the love of her twin sister as having saved her, and her regular attendance as a member of AA. After overcoming such tremendous personal challenges, she turned her life around and was able to secure both a job and an apartment. In finding her strength, she was inspired to help others and so became a sponsor of women she had met during her time spent incarcerated. She helped to bring an Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step program into the prison to help others. Despite low vision from macular degeneration, her service to others continues and in addition to the meaningful work she does, she loves walking, staying active and reading.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Ohana is terrific. She is warm and loving and so willing to learn. She’s anxious to do the next right thing and is so quick to learn and adapt to what I’m asking. She enjoys her exercise and gets energized when she is able to play with other dogs.  In harness, she is so easy to work with.  She is so good and goes with me to my AA meetings.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “A clinical therapist I met, although not blind, has his own dogs, and he gave me a card with the Guiding Eyes phone number.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life?  “Having Ohana changes everything in a good way.  Ohana is the focus of my life now. Ohana is such a good companion. When I became annoyed recently, trying to get a plug in the outlet, she came running over and laid down making me laugh. She is very sweet and very comforting, and we’ve bonded. I take good care of her, too. When she lays beside me, I massage her neck and shoulder muscles and her paws. She is an amazing dog.”

Were there any training highlights?  “When my instructor Kat and I went to the drugstore, I wasn’t aware of a dog behind a post, and Ohana became distracted. It was a good thing that it happened because with Stephanie, the Placement Manager, we were able to work on things, like being aware of my surroundings and what Ohana is doing. Kat was very reassuring about everything being different when I got home with Ohana. I was so glad Kat told me that. Stephanie and I went to PetSmart, and it was great for Ohana’s training because there were other animals and dogs in there. It’s been an adventure, and everything has been working out.” 

Meet Guide Dog Ohana

DOB:  8/16/2021
Litter ID: 9OO21
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Essence
Stud: Enrico
Littermates: Orzo, Ollie, Ocean, Oasis, Onslo, Opus
Region:  Cleveland East, Columbus
Regional Puppy Instructor: Macy Nauman, Leslie Stephens
Puppy Raiser:  Lori Dyer, Kali Milhoan
Facebook: Ohio Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Columbus Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Ohana is the most driven dog I’ve worked with. She’s so smart and worked hard to please, but was also very independent. She was so quick to master any skill and made raising her the most exciting challenge. Her abilities and confidence allowed us to try a lot of fun outings and situations. Ohana did fantastic in busy areas and crowds. It was awesome to see how well she could stay focused. What I loved most about raising Ohana was when everything clicked for us. We created a trustworthy partnership after months of working towards it. Ohana became such a reliable dog that I could trust with any situation. I was always conscientious of her behavior and signals, but she never ceased to amaze me with her maturity and drive. She’s a very spunky girl, but every minute of time we put in together counted. ~ Kali Milhoan 

Photos of the Team…