Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Karla and April

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 Home Training Graduate Karla

Graduate Karla sits on a wooden bench and guide April at her feet on brick pavementGraduate Team: Karla and April
About the Team:  April, a female black Lab, is Karla’s 3rd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:   Silver Springs, Maryland
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Nikki Wentz

Karla is a Senior Attorney at Public Justice, a non-profit legal advocacy organization that works to combat systemic barriers to provide equitable access to the court system. During her 6 plus years there, she has enjoyed the travel and the work, litigating and arguing cases in court.  Karla enjoys being outside and close to nature, whether hiking, backpacking, rock climbing or riding her tandem bike on local trails. She also enjoys biking around the D.C. metro area with friends, stopping for ice cream or lunch along the way. Karla is proud of her involvement with the Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes, and the work they’ve done in creating sports and recreation opportunities for the blind community.

How would you describe your guide dog? “April is a ton of fun. She’s young, exuberant and loves to play, yet very devoted and focused when in harness. It’s fun to watch the transformation from silly, goofy puppy to serious worker, and the transformation back again when the harness comes off!  I’ve been really impressed that, as young and enthusiastic as she is, she still has that focus and enjoyment for her work.  When we go to a new environment or take the train somewhere new, you can tell she’s drinking everything in and really curious about what she’s seeing. April loves having those new experiences, which is great because I do too!”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “The first time I chose this school, it was because they had a comprehensive program; I liked that they did work in Manhattan and on the subway. I anticipated I would be doing a lot of traveling and felt they gave the dog a really good grounding in a wide range of different environments. Also, I grew up on Long Island, so at the time, Yorktown was fairly local, but I kept going back because I had such a great experience. I was really impressed with the staff and their genuine care for the dogs and the thoughtfulness of the program.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Prior to getting April and at other times in my life, I have had long gaps between dogs, so I am able to speak with experience about the pros and cons of traveling with a cane or a dog, because I’ve done both.  When the team is working well together, there is a fluency and a seamlessness. When using a cane, you’re encountering obstacles first and then you reroute yourself around it.  A guide dog charts the path, so you never encounter the obstacle in the first place, and you never have to make those little course corrections.  It’s a seamless experience whether by yourself or when trying to carry on a conversation. Now that we’re able to socialize again, I’m really appreciating the confident and fluid form of travel I have when I’m with April. I appreciate the interactivity between person and dog and what you pick up through the harness handle; I can feel when she’s more confident or tentative. It’s a neat connection and I really get something out of that bond and seeing our confidence as a pair grow overtime. it’s really wonderful, this relationship – something you don’t get with a cane.”

Were there any training highlights? “Guiding Eyes has expanded its use of targeting objects since I was here for my last dog, so there is much more use of ‘to the curb’, ‘to the door’, etc.  To realize that not only would April target the intersection, but point her nose right at the pedestrian access button, was such a revelation for me. To target so precisely opens a new world of possibilities. I was blown away during training and I continue to utilize it for things I need to find in my day-to-day life.”

Meet Guide Dog April

April is an incredibly loving and loyal pup. She loves hiking in the woods, playing fetch, wading in the water or just riding in the boat during waterskiing trips. She was an excellent companion on our three day kayak camping trip to Jane’s Island last summer. We love raising these dogs for their life-long partners. We are honored to have contributed even our small amount to what these wonderful dogs can do.

Dave and Sharon Jollie, Puppy Raisers of April

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