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Michelle and Artie

Meet Graduate Michelle

Michelle kneels on bright green  lawn with hands resting on black lab guide dog ArtieGraduate Team: Michelle and Artie
About the Team: Artie, a male black Lab, is Michelle’s 1st guide dog
Location:  Billings, Montana
Training: June 2024 Home Training

Michelle has been married to her husband, Heath, for 20 years and she currently works as a receptionist at a spa. Michelle was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She and Heath lived in various places, including North Carolina, and Ohio, then moved to Virginia in 2016. At that time, Michelle had had a 16-year career in long-term care and skilled nursing. She decided to travel as part of nursing administration and over the next four years her clinical assignments took her to Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. Her career was about to be cut short, when at the age of 42 she received the diagnosis of PXE (Pseudoxanthoma elasticum), a rare progressive disease that can affect various organs, as well as cause myopic macular degeneration. However, before retiring, she accepted an assignment in Montana. They fell in love with the state and settled in Billings. Michelle enjoys trips to the mall, listening to the Bible, singing, and dancing. She says friends and family refer to her as ‘the walking jukebox’, because of the great variety of songs in her repertoire. She also loves grooming her pet dog Boomer, a rough-coated Jack Russell Terrier, and now her guide Artie as well. She says the boys get along fantastically.  

How would you describe your guide dog? “Artie has a very sweet personality. He is gentle and kind, and a wonderful working dog. Wherever we go he lights up the room when he enters. He can be very funny too. We really do understand each other.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I wanted a guide dog since being diagnosed with PXE in 2016. One of my best friends, Chrissie McLaughlin, a Guiding Eyes graduate, raved about the organization.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Artie has impacted my life for the better in several ways. I get outside for walks more, so a secondary benefit is that it has helped me lose weight.”

Were there any training highlights?  “I chose training at home because I am not comfortable traveling alone. I am also diabetic and rely on an insulin pump and a CPAP machine, which makes traveling a challenge. I am hoping that with Artie by my side, some of my traveling fears will be alleviated. My trainer, Melissa Smith, brought Artie to me and we instantly liked each other. He looked at me and I looked at him and he gave me a big lick. It was ‘love at first lick’. The training taught me to be patient and let Artie lead me. This has enabled me to enjoy and appreciate my surroundings like never before.”

Special Recognition: Artie was special named by George and Barbara Paletta in memory of George’s father, Arthur, who went by Artie.

Meet Guide Dog Artie

DOB:  1/2/2022
Litter ID: S-1A22
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Brio
Stud: Darren
Littermates: Angus, Alastair, Asher, Alana, Amber, Archer, Allegra
Region:  Eastern MA, Bay
Regional Puppy Instructor: Lisa Bumbalo, Cindy Tait
Puppy Raiser:  Lynn Stas, Hunter Family
Facebook: Eastern Mass Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Bay Puppy Raisers

Special Recognition: Artie was special named by George and Barbara Paletta in memory of George’s father, Arthur, who went by Artie.

Photos of the Team…