“The University of Rhode Island Puppy Raisers Club wishes the graduate teams good luck in their new partnerships!”
Graduate Team: Lisa and Nona
About the Team: Nona, a female black Lab, is Lisa’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown: Brewerton, New York
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Caryn Fellows (May Residential Class)
Lisa is a self-employed educational and health consultant, working mainly with visually impaired clients. She has a master’s degree in Curriculum Instruction and Design for the inclusive classroom and she is working towards a second master’s degree. Lisa supports her clients by teaching them the tools needed to be active in the classroom and community. Her job requires frequent travel, something Nona will be very helpful with. Lisa is also a massage therapist and has lived in different areas of the United States. She received her first guide dog, Lynne, who is now retired, from Guiding Eyes in 2011.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Nona is a 2 ½ year old female black Lab. She has been described as a “sports model” of guides! She is both attentive and energetic. She responds to subtle cues. Nona is also very adaptable. She is part of the Running Guides program and will easily hike several miles with me. She is also a great traveler and will sit comfortably next to me on a plane during my frequent airline trips. She does it all!”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Prior to getting Lynne, my first guide, I researched different guide dog schools. It was clear that Guiding Eyes offered the most comprehensive and consistent program. The instructors are excellent and very accessible.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “My guide dog gives me independence and confidence that I otherwise would not have. The information a guide dog gives you is so much more extensive than when using a cane. For example, when we are hiking, Nona can find the trail and lead me. A cane could never do that!”
Were there any training highlights? “Like everything, the training program was not immune to the impact of the pandemic. Guiding Eyes did a great job of adapting the training to Covid protocols and delivered a quality training experience. The class size was 1/3 the normal class size, (my class had only 4 students), and the training took place over 10 days verses 3 weeks, but what did not change was the quality of the training! Caryn was my instructor again this time, providing both a high standard and consistency. Just as I had in 2011, I observed and was so impressed by, how well each student and dog are perfectly matched.”
Special Recognition: Nona’s progress was followed by a Pathfinder Society Member – someone who remembered Guiding Eyes in their estate plans and received reports and photos of her from puppyhood. She was named Nona through contribution of a special gift by Steve and Nan Doheny.Nona was truly the greatest gift I have ever received. I miss my little peanut every day, but then I think about how excited that sassy girl will be to get up and learn every day for the rest of her life and it’s worth it. I truly cannot wait to see what she does as a guide – she embodies “born for it.” Nona never stopped learning for a second. One of my favorite memories was at an OSU men’s volleyball game. We were in the student bleachers – balls flying around and people shouting. She was initially really unsure, and I actually thought we’d maybe have to try again another time, but we worked through it and, (with treats!), she settled like a pro. Thank you so much for taking care of this sweet girl for the rest of her career. You’re going to love every second with her at LEAST as much as I did. She is the smartest dog I’ve ever met (for better or worse!), but also one of the kindest and most loyal. She changed my life and now I can’t wait to watch her change somebody else’s world.
Haley Cloyd, Puppy Raiser of Nona