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March 2013 Graduating Class

Meet our Residential Graduates
Andy & Nera
Alex & Cosby
Erik & Poco
Trada & Rally
Lynette & Junie
Sonia & Larry
Janice & Milo
Kara & Haven
Joelle & Keifer
Deni & Alberta

Home Training Graduates
Matthew & Khaki
Nancy & Anchor
Lauren & Domino
Laura & Hanley

Many thanks to our instructors:
Miranda Beckmann, Class Supervisor
Kathy Zubrycki, Class Instructor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Kate Schroer-Shepord, Class Instructor
Megan Crowley, Class Instructor
Susan Kroha, Special Needs Home Training Instructor
Mike Goehring, Home Training Field Representative
Jim Gardner, Home Training Instructor
Stephanie Koret, Home Training Instructor
Shane Chadbourne, Instructor Assistant


Andy and Nera

Andy will return to Hong Kong with Nera, a female black Labrador. They join his wife, son and daughter.

Andy’s vision loss is due to glaucoma. He works as a massage therapist and volunteers at Hong Kong Guide Dog Association. He enjoys music, reading, exercise and sharing meals with his family. He shares, “Nera guides me safely around obstacles – including people distracted by cell phones and texting.” Nera’s tomboy personality fits perfectly with Andy’s life and family. He looks forward to working and playing with his dog, and to all the road ahead has to offer.

Learn more about Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s work in Hong Kong.

Congratulations to Joshua Elliott of the Southern CT region.


Alex and Cosby

Alex was matched with a male yellow Labrador named Cosby. They return home to Maine where Alex will begin his new career as an assistive technology instructor.

Alex has Leiber’s congenital amaurosis, a condition that causes everything to appear very blurry. He graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in computer science and a minor in math. He programs computers for fun, plays guitar and bass and is a member of the Civil Air Patrol, responsible for the local cadet program. He is looking forward to the ease of travel with Cosby; he’s been pleasantly surprised at how fast and fluidly they can move together.

Congratulations to the Weronski Family of the Erie region.


Erik and Poco

Erik was matched with male yellow Labrador Poco – his first guide dog. The team will return home to Texas and to Erik’s partner of 11 years.

Eric has retinitis pigmentosa and ushers syndrome, causing him to experience both sight loss and hearing loss. Traveling at night had previously been deemed unsafe. Now with Poco, Erik looks forward to being able to travel independently regardless of noise distraction or time of day.

Erik graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a degree in occupational therapy. He works as a certified brain injury specialist at a level one trauma center, providing therapy and support to low vision patients, particularly the elderly with macular degeneration. He loves gardening, antiquing, tandem skydiving and traveling; the team will head to Norway this summer.

Congratulations to Michael & Polly Moore of the Monroe region.

Trada and Rally

Trada will return to Hong Kong with female yellow Labrador Rally.

Trada’s vision loss is due to glaucoma. She works as a part-time massage therapist and enjoys music, listening to radio programs and knitting. Rally came into her life at the perfect time; her adult daughter now works full time, leaving Trada home alone. They recently moved, and she is not yet confident traveling with her cane in the unfamiliar surroundings. Rally will allow Trada to live independently – without the help of her daughter or a familiar neighborhood. Trada describes Rally as a “gentle and elegant princess.”

Congratulations to Lindsey Brugger of the Monroe region.




Lynette and Junie

Lynette returns to Guiding Eyes for her fourth dog. Female yellow Labrador Junie will accompany her back home to Pennsylvania.

Lynette is totally blind from optic nerve damaga and retinal detachment. She has an associate’s degree in social work and will soon resume study to receive her bachelor’s. She works in a diverse role as a daily living skills and mobility instructor and volunteers in her spare time. She travels often, and Junie will make these trips significantly easier. Lynette winds down by playing darts, taking long walks, skiing and rowing.

Congratulations to The Murphy Family of the New Hampshire region.



Sonia and Larry

Sonia returns from Texas and was matched with a black Labrador named Larry.

Sonia has glaucoma and came to Guiding Eyes her first dog in 1993. She is married with three children and was a stay at home mom for 10 years. Today she works as a warehouse specialist at Travis Association for the Blind. Larry has a laid-back personality like Sonia’s, and she is looking forward to taking him on long walks and going shopping together. She knows they will continue to bond and she is excited about the process.

Congratulations to Pamela Ferrante of the Fingerlakes region.



Janice and Milo

Janice lives in North Carolina. Black Labrador Milo is her second guide dog.

Janice lost her vision to optic neuritis caused by multiple sclerosis. She was unable to walk for over four years – using a wheelchair to get around. Nowadays, Janice is very active in her community, volunteering with Blinded Veterans Association, Disabled Veterans, MS Society and at the local library. She regularly speaks to community groups about public access and traveling with guide dogs, and looks forward to returning to this important advocacy work. Her two daughters and five grandchildren can’t wait to meet Milo. Janice describes walking with her new guide as “dancing on the clouds.”

Congratulations to Linda Damato, Rachel Silverman, Ann Walko of the Dutchess region.


Kara and Haven

Pennsylvania resident Kara was matched with her first guide dog – female yellow Labrador Haven.

Kara’s vision loss is due to diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. She has bachelors’ degrees in philosophy and art history from Duquesne University, along with an associate’s degree in computer animation. She is an abstract painter and sculpture and has two solo exhibits this spring. Kara has taught drawing and cartooning and was a studio arts director for eight years. She is the programming chair for Pittsburgh Society of Artists and sits on the Exhibitions Committee for Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. When not in her studio painting, Kara is reading, meditating, practicing yoga or studying nutrition and holistic health. She is looking forward to the unencumbered freedom Haven brings – moving through space with ease and without fear.

Congratulations to Fred & Sue Hurwitz of the New Hampshire region.


Joelle and Keifer

Joelle lives in Pennsylvania with her parents and a basset hound named Gracie. She was matched with a male black Labrador named Keifer.

Joelle is in her senior year in high school and plans to attend Edenberg University next year. She plays piano and performs with a jazz band. Joelle vision two years ago from retinitis pigmentosa and Baird Syndrome. Keifer is her first guide dog, and she is amazed at how much he loves to work. She is excited to return home with him and be able to take lots of safe, long walks together.

Congratulations to Janel Rung Armbruster & Family of the Cleveland West region.



Graduate Deni Elliott with yellow Labrador guide dog AlbertaDeni and Alberta

Florida resident Deni received Alberta, a female yellow Labrador. Progressive bilateral optic neuropathy caused Deni to begin experiencing vision loss in her early 30s. She became legally blind in the year 2000.

Deni is the director of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of South Florida. She holds the Poynter Jamison Chair in Media Ethics and Press Policy and her writing on practical ethics has been widely published in journals and textbooks. Deni has a master’s in phiolosophy from Wayne State University and an interdisciplinary educational doctorate in phiolosophy of education from Harvard.

Deni still finds time for an active home life, enjoying cavern explorations and gourmet cooking. She believed strongly in the training methods used by Guiding Eyes – finding they correlated with the ethical values she seeks in a canine human relationship. At home in Florida, Alberta will be the “middle sister” to older and younger pet Golden retrievers. This team’s first trip will be to Disney World; Deni knows she’ll enjoy her introduction to Mickey Mouse!

Read Deni’s thoughts on her time at Guiding Eyes.

Congratulations to the McMains Family of the Eastern Mass region.