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May 2011 Graduating Class

image of the June 2011 graduating class

Harriet Barker & Percy
Maria Chrstina Colon & Yolanda
Ann Custodio & Maddox
Graciete da Cruz & Dudley
Vivian Fridas & Ditto
Weronika & Tommy
Cheryl McIntosh & Emily
Everett Miller & Cherish
Rebecca Sabo & Orient
Ruth Tipps & Ivanna
Robert Tobin & Van
Nicholas Zaffarese & Lark

Home Training Graduates
Robert Steele and Ormond
Nick Aaron Bonner. Sr. and Magnum

Many thanks to our instructors:
Melinda Angstrom, Dell Rodman
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Erik Wright, Class Instructor
Jamie Viezbicke, Class Instructor
Andrea Martine, Special Needs Home Training Instructor
Mike Goehring, Home Training Field Representative
Julia Weatherseed, Instructor Assistant

image of Harriet Barker and PercyHarriet Barker and Percy
Harriet Barker traveled from Colorado for Percy, her first guide dog, a yellow male Lab. Born in Manhattan, Harriet grew up in Westchester County – very close to Guiding Eyes.

Harriet has macular degeneration caused by Stargardt’s Syndrome. She misses driving – especially her 1957 Porche Targa.

Harriet lived and worked in Greece for awhile. When she returned to the United States, she began working at The National Center for Atmospheric Research – starting as a secretary and retiring as Vice President.

Harriet’s sight will continue to deteriorate and she did not want to be dependent on a cane. Percy is a comical yellow lab, and Harriet loves how experienced, sensitive and aware he is. She is looking forward to getting out on the walking trails at home. Percy will allow her to experience them with a new degree of confidence.

image of Maria Christina Colon and YolandaMaria Christina Colon and Yolanda

Maria comes to Guiding Eyes for Yolanda, a yellow female Lab.

Maria has a son who is a lawyer and a daughter in the Navy. Maria was born with sight but raised her children totally blind. She attended Temple University

Associative Service for the Blind and studied independent living. She holds a degree in history from Spain where she was a teacher. Maria is going to college in the United States so she can become a teacher again.

Maria loves to crochet; she makes clothes and particularly loves making baby clothes. She walks two miles a day and volunteers every Saturday at the senior center. The seniors will absolutely love Yolanda.

When Maria met Yolanda, they connected right away. Maria already feels like they have been working together for years, yet she is excited to only be at the beginning.

image of Ana (Margarida Rodrigues) Custodio and MaddoxAna (Margarida Rodrigues) Custodio and Maddox (not profiled)
Ana (Margarida Rodrigues) Custodio traveled from Portugal and is paired with Maddox, a black male Lab and her first guide dog.









image of Graciete (CarmoCabecinha) da Cruz and DudleyGraciete (CarmoCabecinha) da Cruz and Dudley (not profiled)
Graciete (Carmo Cabecinha) da Cruz, another student from Portugal, is matched with her first guide dog Dudley, a yellow male Lab.








image of Vivian Fridas and DittoVivian Fridas and Ditto
Vivian is from New York and is matched with her first guide dog Ditto, a black male Lab.

Vivian lives at home with her parents and is the middle child with two sisters. They are all three years apart and best friends. Retinal degeneration caused her to make adjustments throughout middle school, and by high school she was using a cane regularly.

Vivian has a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology. After a year’s internship, she’ll be applying to law school.

Vivian loves to spend time with her family. She also enjoys listening to music and has many favorite songs and artists. Both music and walking put her in a great state of mind; they are her outlets from the regular stresses of life.

Vivian didn’t know what to expect when she first arrived at Guiding Eyes. She had never had a pet growing up so Ditto is her very first dog. Working with Ditto is so different compared to using a cane. Walking has become faster, and she no longer gets lost or disoriented.

Vivian is excited to bring Ditto home and to go out on her own without depending on someone else. The whole family is adjusting to Ditto, who loves his bone and games of Tug of War. He enjoys fetch, playing with squeaky toys and sleeping in the sun.

image of Weronika and TommyWeronika and Tommy
Weronica comes across the Canadian border for Tommy, a male yellow Lab and her first guide dog. She lives at home with her parents and older sister.

A brain tumor on the optic nerve caused Weronica’s vision loss. She is graduating from high school this year and going on to University.

Weronica likes to stay active; she enjoys Tae Kwon Do, socializing, and staying in touch with friends and family. She also likes computers, going to restaurants, playing piano, horseback riding, swimming and skiing. Weronica is always open to trying new things and dreams of sailing – both on water and ice.

Tommy is a great dog and all of Weronica’s friends are excited to meet him. She loves that he reacts to her right away, is always under control, and doesn’t grab food from the table. With Tommy by her side, Weronica is excited about everything the future holds.

image of Cheryl McIntosh and EmilyCheryl McIntosh and Emily
Cheryl McIntosh comes from Michigan for her first guide dog, Emily, a yellow female Golden Retriever/Labrador cross. Her vision loss is caused by Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy.

Cheryl is married to a Marine and they will be celebrating their 10 year anniversary this summer. They have a son and daughter. She has one sister, two nieces and three nephews. Family is a very big part of Cheryl’s life. She spends a lot of time with her kids and loves playing with them, whether it’s going to the park or the school yard. The family has a basketball court in the backyard and many hoop challenges takes place right at home.

With plans to become a nutritionist, Cheryl is currently studying dietetics in college.

Cheryl likes to walk fast and she felt a cane slowed her down. Emily is able to keep up with her active handler, and Cheryl finds it incredible to be ableto get around so easily.

Emily is a serious guide dog but she absolutely loves to play. An orange ball is one of her favorite toys. There is a hole in the top of the ball which she stuffs her snout in, and she makes her new mom smile every time she does this.


image of Rebecca (Becky) Sabo and OrientRebecca (Becky) Sabo and Orient
Becky Sabo comes from Colorado. Orient, a female yellow Lab, is Becky’s third guide dog.

Becky’s parents live in the Midwest and her sister, who is also blind, lives in Colorado.

Becky received her first guide dog at 19 and graduated college with a massage therapy degree. She also has an associate’s degree in human services and is working towards her bachelors.

Retinitis pigmentosa is the cause of Becky’s vision loss. Today, she can see light and shadow. “It’s like looking through a straw. I can tell something’s there but I can’t make it out.”

Becky likes to read, play on the computer, go shopping, and hang out with friends. Every bit the daredevil – her adventurous side is drawn to downhill skiing, rock climbing and hiking. She is excited to have a new guide dog to accompany her on some of these journeys.

image of Ruth Tipps and IvannaRuth Tipps and Ivanna
Ruth “Ruthie” Tipps returns to Guiding Eyes for Ivanna, her second guide dog.

Ruthie is now retired, but had several different careers throughout her lifetime. She was a rehabilitation teacher, an administrator for an insurance company, and a medical transcriptionist. Currently she volunteers for the American Red Cross.

Ruthie’s blindness is caused by retinopathy of prematurity. She stays super active – enjoying to sail, canoe, and sing. She performs with a theatre for the visually impaired and is a member of Toastmasters, a group that works on perfecting speaking and leadership skills. Ruthie participates in church activities, square-dancing, is a member of the choir and sings at nursing homes. She volunteers by helping people with their adaptive devices. She is a member of the Red Hat Society and the American Council for the Blind.

Ruthie is excited to have Ivanna by her side.

image of Robert Tobin and VanRobert Tobin and Van (not profiled)
Robert Tobin returns to Guiding Eyes for his fifth guide dog. He lives in New York and Van, a yellow male Lab, will return home with him.









image of Nicholas Zaffarese and LarkNicholas Zaffarese and Lark (not profiled)
Nicholas Zaffarese traveled across country from California for his first guide dog Lark, a black female Lab.