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November/December 2011 Graduating Class

November December 2011 graduating class
Jose Felipe Cotelo Rodal & Jay
Pauline Downing & Garner
Rosario Fajardo Garcia & Hastings
Jason LeFevers & Coach
Belinda Lopez Gallego & Gunther
Gail Lundberg & Booker
Lora Ann Niino & Garvey
Robert Stacey & Flint
Harry Titus & Arlo
Lisa Tuccio & Dave

Home Training Graduates
Maria Dykman & Kermit
Mary Giles & Lorna
Pei Hack & North
Sharon Lofting & Beverly

Many thanks to our instructors:
Miranda Beckmann, Class Supervisor
Erik Wright, Class Instructor
Jamie Viezbicke, Class Instructor
Susan Kroha, Special Needs Instructor
Julie Angle, Special Needs Home Training Instructor
Andrea Martine, Special Needs Home Training Instructor
Kristina Andersen, Home Training Instructor
Gary Jakubos, Home Training Field Representative
Hope Smith, Instructor Assistant

Jose Felipe Cotelo Rodal and JayJose Felipe Cotelo Rodal and Jay
“Felipe” Rodal traveled from Spain for his first guide dog, male yellow Lab Jay.

Felipe is the oldest in his family, with two brothers and a sister. He has four nieces.  After graduating high school, Felipe went to technical school for administrative training.  He is now happily retired from a long career as a bread baker, and he very much enjoys not having to be at work by 4am each day.

Felipe was born with retinitis pigmentosa.  He had always liked dogs and began thinking about getting a guide dog two years ago when his vision suddenly worsened.   Guiding Eyes Jay provides a sense of security for Felipe, along with the freedom of mobility and companionship.

Felipe enjoys sports and the theatre; he’s a performing actor with the Spanish Guide Dog School, a partner of Guiding Eyes.  He also volunteers as the vice president of the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation, a nonprofit providing information and counseling to people affected by RP.

Pauline Downing and GarnerPauline Downing and Garner
Pauline Downing will return to her home in Massachusetts with male black Lab Garner.

Pauline was born blind with retinopathy of prematurity. In addition, she has some minor motor problems on her left side.  Garner is Pauline’s sixth dog, and she has always been grateful to Guiding Eyes for preparing dogs that are able to meet her needs.

Pauline shares an apartment with another Guiding Eyes grad.  She is retired and has a passion for reading, music, and sports, especially baseball.  She regularly travels around her hometown using public transportation, and she knows this will be a piece of cake with Garner.

Garner enjoys his work and is very attentive and focused.  He loves to let Pauline know he is right there by putting his nose in her hand.

Rosario Fajardo Garcia and HastingsRosario Fajardo Garcia and Hastings
“Charo” Garcia will return home to Spain with Hastings, a male yellow Lab.

Charo is currently studying civil service while working as an administrator in the National Court.  She loves animals, music, travel and helping others.  At home, her family has a pet dog and a tropical bird; Charo looks forward to introducing them to Hastings.

Three years ago, Charo’s retinitis pigmentosa progressed, and she began to lose her independence.  Hastings is restoring her freedom, security and confidence. She can’t wait to walk around her neighborhood, inspiring others to challenge themselves to rise above their limitations. “My mother blames herself for my retinitis pigmentosa, which obviously isn’t her fault.  I’m so excited to introduce her to Hastings; I think the freedom he brings into my life will help appease her guilt.”

Jason LeFevers and CoachJason LeFevers and Coach
Maryland resident Jason LeFevers was matched with his first guide dog – male black Lab Coach.

Jason lost his sight in an auto accident while stationed at Shaw Air Force Base.  The incident ended his career as an F16 avionics specialist.  Today he is a graduate of the Baltimore School for Massage and works as a licensed massage therapist.  When not working, Jason enjoys music, weight lifting and competing in power lifting competitions.  He shares his home with his wife and kids as well as his brother, mom, and two family dogs.

Coach gives Jason a reason to get out more. Together they will take his son to the park and get his daughter from the bus, which lets her off a mile from his home. Before Coach, Jason had to rely on neighbors. “Coach allows me the opportunity to be self-reliant and in turn, to be a better dad.”

Gail Lundberg and BookerGail Lundberg and Booker
Gail Lundberg is a returning student from Missouri.  She is matched with her third guide dog – male yellow Lab Booker.

Gail’s vision was initially affected during an incident at birth.  It worsened when she was afflicted with malaria while teaching bible school in Nigeria.  Upon her return home, she became fearful to leave the house.  An orientation and mobility instructor talked to her about guide dogs, and she believes they are her salvation for independent living.

Gail holds a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from the University of Missouri. She is now retired, and writes newsletters for bible schools she founded with her husband. She has four daughters, two sons, three granddaughters and three grandsons.

Gail is looking forward to travel and working with Booker. He will be a welcome addition at the nursing home on Wednesday evenings and will accompany Gail to a variety of speaking engagements. “Booker is very mushy, loving and a great worker. He learns very quickly.”

Lora Ann Niino and GarveyLora Ann Niino and Garvey
Californian Lora Ann Niino received Garvey, a male yellow Labrador.

Lora Ann is a licensed marriage and family therapist.   Her bachelor’s degree is from the University of Hawaii and she received her masters from Pepperdine.  She is currently finishing her doctoral dissertation; she’ll soon be clinical psychologist.   Lora Ann plans to focus on counseling patients experiencing sight loss; after losing her own vision in a car accident, Lora Ann finds the depression and grief easy to relate to.

Garvey is Lora Ann’s first guide dog.  He’ll Lora Ann’s two daughters and three Bichon Frises for company when not working.  Lora Ann shares, “I appreciate everything about Garvey – from his breeding to the work of the puppy raisers to the instructors and how much they care about each student in class.”  She looks forward to a new life with Garvey by her side.

Harry D Titus and ArloHarry D Titus and Arlo
Canadian Harry Titus returns to Guiding Eyes for his fifth dog, black Lab Arlo.

Harry was only seven years old when he lost his sight due to Type 1 Diabetes.  He received his computer science degree from the University of Manitoba and worked with mainframe computers for 27 years.  Nowadays, he enjoys an active retirement.  Harry competed in Okinawa, Japan in 1997 in martial arts, and he is a member of the Ontario Blind Golf Association, regularly competing in their golf tournaments.

Harry’s sisters, niece, nephew, and mother live close to Harry and his wife; all are looking forward to meeting Arlo.  For Harry, Arlo will bring flexibility, mobility, and freedom back into his life.


Lisa Tuccio and DaveLisa Tuccio and Dave
Delaware resident Lisa Tuccio was matched with her first guide dog – German shepherd Dave.

Lisa was born with retinitis pigmentosa and her vision started changing in the last few years. She has a German shepherd pet and knew she wanted to have a shepherd as a guide dog.  She described the moment of meeting big furry Dave as absolutely magical; she looks forward to walking down the street with him next to her.

Lisa’s had a diverse work history; she worked as an LPN for 15 years and also did maintenance for heating and air conditioning units.  She is currently the caregiver for her partner’s mother with Alzheimer’s disease.   In addition, Lisa is a member of Women in the Wind, an organization that educates people on the safety and maintenance of motorcycles.

Lisa is looking forward to continuing her busy lifestyle with Dave by her side.  Together they’ll go camping, fishing, scuba diving and skiing. Dave will accompany her on a week long trip on the Colorado River next May.