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May 2013 Graduate Class

May 2013Class Photo

Meet our Residential Graduates
Rui & Angus
Emmanuel & Reed
David & Talula
Christian & Barnes
Maria & Ariel
Nicole & Colleen
Rodney & Boyko
William & Rosemary
Shelley & Agatha
Stephanie & Glimmer

Home Training Graduates
Richard & Albee
Alice & Cal
Samuel & Arby

Many thanks to our instructors:
Ben Cawley, Class Supervisor
Graham Buck, Assistant Director of Training
Jolene Hollister, ACTION Instructor
Michelle Tang, Class Instructor
Lori Busse, Class Instructor
Julie Angle, Special Needs Home Training Instructor
Susan Kroha, Special Needs Home Training Instructor
Chrissy Vetrano, Home Training Instructor
Kate Gardner, Instructor Assistant


Thank you to our May graduation sponsors.

“May you and your new four legged friends have wonderful adventures together.” – Megan Gibney & David Dickey

“Being involved with Guiding Eyes for the Blind is one of the most exciting and rewarding things I’ve done in my life.  I am so proud to be a graduation sponsor for this class.” – Doris Thompson

“Our family is sponsoring today’s graduation in honor of our dad, Tony, who took great joy in his Labs.   For 13 years, Trixie and he were inseparable and shared an unshakable bond.  And, 8 month old Rosie gave him great enjoyment by allowing him to experience the wonder of a new puppy.  Though not working dogs, they certainly had a job to do and they did it well!

Today, you’re moving ahead with your lives and starting a rewarding relationship with your dogs by your sides.  You have worked hard for this moment and our family is proud to be part of your day and wish you nothing but the best!” – Blinebury Family

Special recognition and thanks to our Annual Graduation Sponsor, Sally Stokhamer


Rui and Angus

Rui traveled from Portugal to receive his first guide dog – male black Labrador Angus.

Rui was born with a vision problem caused by malformation of the eyes.  As a child, he attended a school for the blind and then went on to University. Now, he works as a philosophy teacher. In his spare time, Rui loves to read, play guitar, listen to music, and spend time with his family and friends. He is looking forward to a wonderful new future with Angus and his family.

This year is a new beginning for Rui – he is recently married, has two new daughters and a new guide dog. With Angus, there are no barriers or obstacles in his way. He shares, “To feel the dog, to feel the environment, to feel totally free – it’s a wonderful experience.”

Congratulations to puppy raisers Amanda & Darlene Sciola of the Eastern Connecticut region. 


Emmanuel Dillion and Guiding Eyes dog ReedEmmanuel and Reed

Born and raised in New York, Emmanuel was matched with male yellow Labrador Reed, his first guide dog.

Seven years ago, Emmanuel was suffering from a blinding headache. He was brought to the hospital and diagnosed with meningitis, which ultimately left him totally blind.  Emmanuel holds a degree in journalism from St. John’sUniversity. Now, with Reed by his side, he plans to go back to St. John’s for his Masters.

Emmanuel started using a cane last year. For the first time in six years, he went to the corner store on his own. The cane enabled him to move on to the next step of getting a guide dog. Reed recently earned Emmanuel’s trust.  Lost, in the middle of the steps, Reed brought him to the railing.  At that moment, Emmanuel realized he had his lifesaver at his side – a loyal companion to keep him safe.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Elizabeth Closemore and Libby Moore & Matt Fernandez of the New York City region.

David and Talula

David will return to Georgia with female yellow Labrador Talula, his first guide dog.

David was born with congenital cataracts. Several operations gave him limited close-up vision and strong light sensitivity. David considers himself a perpetual bachelor, keeping himself busy with small jobs. His current goals include learning the guitar and walking five to ten miles every day.

David appreciates the standards Guiding Eyes sets for both their dogs and students. Talula inspires David to set new goals for himself. She will make his walks easier and more enjoyable. As a team, he hopes they will inspire others who are visually impaired.

Congratulations to puppy raisers the Roy Family of the Southern Connecticut region and the Johnny Cody Family and Carol Haas of the Eastern Connecticut region.


Christian and Barnes

California resident Christian was matched with male yellow Labrador Barnes, his first guide dog.

Christian was born with both visual and hearing impairments.  He is the second of three children and lives with his fiancé.  Christian earned his associates degree from SouthwesternCollege.  He plays private parties as a soloist harpist and he is passionate about cooking.

Now that he has Barnes, Christian will go back to college to study culinary arts. He also plans to travel and go camping. “Everything is going to be different,” he shares. “Barnes brings me a brighter world; more friendship, more joy, more love and more positive experiences.”

Congratulations to puppy raisers Sue Boudinot of the Fingerlakes region and Eryk Gabhran of the Shenandoah region.


Maria and Ariel

Maria will return home to Portugal with female yellow Labrador Ariel, her first guide dog.

Maria was born totally blind due to Leber congenital amaurosis. She is a freelance translator and, on the weekends, she takes postgraduate courses in Madrid. She shares her home with her boyfriend, who is also a guide dog user.  He is on track to get a new guide dog in July – she looks forward to their guide dogs working and growing old together.

Maria compares working with Ariel to having wings, “forgetting the cane and the obstacles.” She can’t wait to go to the beach and listen to the sound of the ocean with Ariel by her side.

Congratulations to puppy raisers the Douglas McBride Family of the Eastern Massachusetts region.


Nicol and Colleen

Nicol traveled from California to be matched with female German Shepherd Colleen – her fourth guide dog.

Nicol and her daughter have retinitis pigementosa, an eye disease in which there is damage to the retina.  She majored in English at Santa RosaJunior College and works for an educational publication designed for children. Her position involves gaining sponsorship support from local and national businesses.

Nicol loves face-to-face interaction and exercises five days a week. An experienced guide dog user, she comments, “Colleen’s pace and pull are excellent.”  Nicol thanks the puppy raisers for the amazing role they have played in her life.

Congratulations to puppy raisers the Fox Family of the Erie NY region.


Rodney and Boyko

Rodney received male black Labrador Boyko, his first guide dog. The team will return to North Carolina.

Rodney started experiencing vision loss in his forties. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, he originally worked for the Toyota Motor Company. Now, Rodney is studying deep tissue and prenatal massage at the Body Therapist Institute. He participates annually in the Lions’ International Fishing Tournament.  Rodney looks forward to being more social and welcoming the many opportunities a guide dog brings.  He hopes to inspire his children to follow their dreams.

Rodney and Boyko were instant friends.  Rodney calls Boyko “Baby” and describes him as a lap dog – they sit on the floor together while Boyko falls asleep in Rodney’s arms.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Siobhan de Courcy of the Dominion region.


Bill and Rosemary

Bill returns from Colorado for his sixth guide dog, female yellow Labrador Rosemary.

Bill has retinitis pigmentosa.  After watching his sister interact with her guide dog, he was inspired to get his own.  Bill has a B.A. in religious studies from FurmanUniversity and a Masters in pastoral counseling from VanderbiltUniversity. He enjoys reading, listening to music, and playing guitar.

Life has changed a lot for Bill.  Widowed after 24 years of marriage, he remarried about a year ago and now has four daughters and six granddaughters.  He recently retired and is in the process of transitioning into an easier lifestyle.  Bill looks forward to taking the next step with Rosemary.

Congratulations to puppy raiser Nina Scribner of the Maine region.


Shelley and Agatha

Shelley participated in the ACTION program – an accelerated training program with two weeks at Guiding Eyes and five days at home with an instructor.  Agatha, a female black Labrador, will enjoy winters in Florida and summers in Michigan.

Shelley has retinopathy of prematurity. She holds a Masters degree in blind rehabilitation teaching from WesternMichiganUniversity. Now that she and her husband are retired, they spend a lot of time traveling.  She also enjoys working out and playing the keyboard.

Guiding Eyes’ ACTION program was particularly appealing to an experienced guide dog user.  Shelley is excited to return home with Agatha; the summer will be a time for bonding, work, and relaxation.

Congratulations to puppy raisers Caroline Wetterauw and Cora & Dick Martin of the Southwestern Connecticut region.


Stephanie and Glimmer

Stephanie was matched with female black Labrador Glimmer, her third dog from Guiding Eyes.

A car accident left Stephanie totally blind.  She is married with two children.  A graduate of the University of Illinois with a major in American History, she now works part time as a massage therapist.  She enjoys reading, ballroom dancing, listening to music, and spending time with her family at their lake house.

Stephanie’s mobility instructor recommended Guiding Eyes. She describes Glimmer as a sweet dog who is always excited to work. “When she’s working she’s serious; otherwise, she’s ready to play,” she adds. “It’s nice that she can do both!”

Congratulations to puppy raisers Elizabeth Goodland and Sarah Thorne of the Delmarva region and Helen Watt of the Bay region.