Graduate Team – Melissa and Lowell
Meet May Home Training Graduate Melissa
Melissa is a returning graduate who lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her 4th Guiding Eyes dog. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school, and then college with a baccalaureate degree in Human Services. She enjoys writing poetry and writing her autobiography using a poetic style, as well as sketching cartoon characters like Mickey, Miss Piggy and Kermit, and Winnie the Pooh. Melissa loves listening to music, including ‘90’s R & B, oldies, and classical, and enjoys traveling with her guide dog on buses, trains, and boats, especially the transit boat to the islands around Boston. She studied sign language and worked as a deaf peer support specialist for a mental health service. For over a decade, Melissa volunteered in a nursing home, providing activities such as bingo and books, or just sharing her time and talking with residents.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Lowell is my first male guide dog. He is always alert and ever attentive, watching to be sure everything is all right. As a home training, Lowell practiced getting me around traffic, and became familiar with places I go, like Starbucks and doctor appointments. He is always curious and seems to think, OK, what’s next? Out of harness, Lowell is very loving and can also be really goofy and playful, throwing a frisbee himself, so he can chase it. If someone comes to the door, he will go to the door, then comes right back to me. It’s so nice to have a dog that is so attentive.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? My first guide was not from Guiding Eyes and I didn’t know the school existed until a friend told me she was getting a dog from there. I wanted to go to a school where I could concentrate on training with my dog and not be distracted. I looked into Guiding Eyes and applied. I was in residencial training with my first three dogs. When I was training at the school, there was a camaraderie with other students. You don’t have the distractions of home. However now, I enjoyed the home training and being one on one with a trainer who understood my health issues when I have flare-ups and greater pain than normal. I liked training in my own neighborhood. Another point I’d like to make, is that if you are at home with your guide and you have questions or problems, Guiding Eyes is always available to provide support.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Having my guide dogs has increased my independence and with each dog I’ve learned something new. My last dog, Saki, taught me love. She was my soul dog and I was able to give my love back. My independence has relaxed my stress in trying to find my landmarks, and getting around all the people. While walking with a friend to Starbucks, Lowell guided me a little to the side of the sidewalk. My friend said that a person was sitting with his legs outstretched into the sidewalk and my dog guided me around him. I am enjoying the independence, the love and the companionship of a guide dog.”
Were there any training highlights? “Where I live in Brookline, it is only blocks from the city of Boston, with lots of obstacles and people traffic. Nikki was great at helping Lowell and me around my neighborhood, walking to the train, targeting the button to cross the street safely. She helped me learn to trust the dog when dealing with all the quiet electric cars on the road. Again, with all the support, from the puppy raisers to the trainers, Guiding Eyes is my school!”
Meet Guide Dog Lowell
- DOB: 5/17/2020
- Tattoo ID: 3LL20
- Color/Breed: Black /Labrador
- Gender: Male
- Brood: Lava
- Stud: Ryan
- Littermates: Lester, Larson, Lyric, Lemon
- Region: Dominion
- Regional Manager: Janet Bartolotta
- Puppy Raiser: Karin Nixon & Brian Duggan
- Facebook: Guiding Eyes Dominion Puppy Raisers
Lowell was a pleasure to raise. He was born in GEB’s last litter before breeding was paused due to the pandemic. His outgoing, happy personality brought joy to us and others he met during those challenging times. A favorite experience was taking four-month-old Lowell on a cross-country road trip from Washington, D.C. to Michigan to Colorado and back, camping along the way. We also enjoyed watching Lowell romp with his siblings, Lemon and Larson, during playdates at Lemon’s house and are happy he will now live near his sister, Lyric, in Massachusetts. Lowell was our first puppy and we are thankful for the outstanding support and care from GEB, especially RM Janet Bartolotta and Katie Meuer. They are exceptional trainers of both dogs and people! Many family, friends, and colleagues were rooting for Lowell along his journey. He was very loved and we are so proud of him and happy for the life he and Melissa will have together.
Karin Nixon and Brian Duggan, Puppy Raisers of Lowell
Enjoy these photos of the team and Lowell as a pup on program…
Meet our other recent guide dog team graduates. Click here!
Friends and Family: Watch this video to learn more about Working with a Guide Dog Team.