March 2014 Graduate Class

Group photo - class of March 2014

Thank you to the very special people supporting this month’s graduation:

Meet our Residential Graduates
Ian and Stanley
Barbara and Zeus
Randy and Blake
Megan and Briana
Adam and Art
Christina and Aloe
Georgiann and Tanner
Zerline and Tappi
John and George
Marissa and Patience
Barbara and Rebel

Home Training Graduates
Randy and Autumn
Michael and Jackson

Many thanks to our instructors
Miranda Beckmann, Class Supervisor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Jolene Hollister, Support Instructor
Kate Gardner, Class Instructor
Nikki Wentz, Class Instructor
Andrea Martine, Special Needs Instructor
Gary Jakubos, Home Training Field Rep
Chrissy Vetrano, Home Training Instructor
Shannon McGee, Instructor Assistant

Ian and Stanley

Ian and Stanley, a yellow Labrador, will return home to Kentucky. Ian was born with congenital coloboma in his right eye and a micro cornea in his left. His vision worsened in his thirties due to cataracts and glaucoma. Ian successfully traveled with a cane at first, but the day he almost stepped in front of a bus changed everything and he became anxious about traveling outside independently. His orientation and mobility instructor, a Guiding Eyes graduate, encouraged him to get his first guide dog and Ian can already appreciate the incredible difference Stanley is making. He is looking forward to completing his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and hopes to continue his education with a masters in education. Stanley will enjoy long walks in a variety of areas as they settle in back home.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Samantha Horne!

Barbara and Zeus

Barbara traveled cross-country from California. She is matched with her seventh guide dog, Zeus, a mellow yellow Labrador, and “exactly what she wanted.”

Retinopathy of prematurity caused Barbara’s vision loss. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a sociology minor and earned her master’s in social work in 1980. Barbara never felt safe using a cane. “A cane doesn’t know how to get around obstacles,” she shares. “My dogs allow me the freedom to walk faster without fear.” She loves music and has a passion for dogs. She looks forward to being home with her husband, their pet dachshund and her weekly horseback riding sessions.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Deb Dolan and Jodi Haveles!

Randy and Blake

Randy is matched with his second guide dog, a male black Labrador named Blake. They return home to Texas. Randy has Ushers Syndrome and began wearing hearing aids before he started school. He was diagnosed as legally blind in his twenties. He is married to his wife of 35 years and they have a daughter and son and a grandson and granddaughter. Randy took online college courses and is an ordained licensed minister and inspirational speaker. His recent book How to See When You Can’t See is available on Amazon. He works out six days a week and is an avid golfer. Having a guide dog means never being alone; he is looking forward to his new journey with Blake – knowing they will get through any challenges together.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Hope DiNatale!

Megan and Briana

Canadian Megan was matched with Briana, a black Labrador and her second guide dog. Megan lost her vision as a result of juvenile congenital glaucoma. She has a grown daughter, holds a BS degree in agriculture and will earn her masters in psychology this spring. Her career goal is to work as a psychologist with teens suffering from self harm and thoughts of suicide. She loves reading books and hiking. Briana keeps her calm, centered and consistent. She can’t wait to see Briana’s reaction to her parakeet and hopes the natural environment aquariums she has set up will serve as a relaxing influence at the end of the long day.

Congratulations to Briana’s puppy raisers – Macy Nauman and Caroline and Hannah Vale.

Adam and Art

Native New Yorker Adam was matched with his first guide dog, male yellow Labrador Art. Adam lost his vision as a result of hyperbaric oxygen treatment for Lyme disease. His grandfather, an English teacher, gave him a different focus and direction when he encouraged him to read The Great Gatsby, Hemingway and other classic works. He received his undergrad and graduate degrees from New York University and is now a licensed clinical social worked considering his own practice. Adam relaxes by working out and playing a variety of music: guitar, banjo, ukulele, piano and percussion instruments. He used a cane for 12 years and is looking forward to more fluidity in getting around obstacles. Art makes him feel liberated and his horizons are already expanding.

Congratulations to Art’s puppy raisers – Jenn Heinemann and family.

Christina and Aloe

Christina was born blind with corneal disease. Early transplants worked in one eye but began to fail during her senior year in high school. Today she has central vision only. Just before coming to Guiding Eyes, Christina graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She now works as a lab technician for the psychology department doing research in vision psychology. She lives in Minnesota and weather was an important consideration in choosing a school. She appreciates that female yellow Lab Aloe has been trained in winter and is familiar with many different situations. She is looking forward to participating in many walking charity events: a dog walkathon in May and a Lions Club charity walk in June are on her list.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Elizabeth and Lisa Olcott!

Georgiann and Tanner

Georgiann traveled from Wisconsin to be matched with a male black Labrador named Tanner. Her vision loss is a result of retinopathy of prematurity. Throughout her lifetime, Georgiann has taken every opportunity possible to educate the public about people who are blind and visually impaired; she has presented at drivers ed classes and to dog obedience schools about guide dog awareness. She shares, “With a cane I am an oddity; a guide dog gives me my humanity back.” Georgiann has a degree in wildlife management. She’s excited to introduce Tanner to her husband, her stepsons, grandsons and great-grandson. She can’t thank the puppy raisers enough all their work with Tanner; they taught him so many of the skills critical for him to be successful and to make such a large difference in her life.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Miriam and Seth Grogan!

Zerline and Tappi

Zerline is from New York and was matched with her sixth guide dog, yellow female Labrador Tappi. Zerline came to Guiding Eyes for her first dog in 1973. Retired now, she is a proficient traveler who enjoys knitting, reading, shopping and listening to music. With Tappi she plans to walk more and become more involved with her church and volunteer work. A Bermuda cruise is on the horizon. One thing is certain, Tappi makes getting around much easier. “Things are different using a cane” she shares. “The dog draws people to me. I’m not invisible with her.”

Congratulations to puppy raisers Bobbie and Jim Havel!

John and George
John and black Labrador George will travel home to Utah together. Due to Usher Syndrome, John was born profoundly deaf and has lost significant vision. He has a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Utah State University and currently works for the IRS. John enjoys walking, hiking, swimming, reading, family history, movies and learning about the history of cultures and linguistics. He encourages open discussions with his family and friends on topics from politics to philosophy and the meaning of life. John looks forward to the independence George will bring to his life.

Congratulations to George’s puppy raisers – The Kent Family.

Marisa and Patience

Marisa was matched with a yellow female Labrador named Patience, her second guide dog. Marisa’s vision loss was caused by diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. She is currently studying marketing research at Baruch College and post-graduation hopes to pursue a career in the business side of music. Her hobbies include playing guitar and piano, taking long walks, traveling and enjoying time with friends. She appreciates that Patience is very happy while working. Despite her name she is eager and ready to respond. Marisa looks forward to zipping around New York City confident and secure.

Congratulations to Patience’s puppy raisers – The Goetzke Family and Mr. and Mrs. Sizemore.

Barbara and Rebel (profile coming soon)

Congratulations to puppy raiser Sharon Dietrich!

Congratulations to the puppy raisers of this month’s home trained dogs – Joan Morehouse for Autumn and Karlie Jackson for Jackson!