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October/November 2011 Graduating Class

October/November 20101 Graduating Class
Edward Brady & Clark
Phyllis Callender & Asher
William Casias & Hadley
Abigal Cocanougher & Bancroft
Douglas Coyle & Pacer
Eva Eason & Marcus
Pamela Garde & Hildy
Jennifer Hawkins & Farley
William Juckett & Barbara
Carol Kelsey & Finn
Vladimir Matsiborchuk & Gallant
Meagan Tanner & Donna
Charley Tipps & Fletcher

Home Training Graduates
Joy Koester and Dustin
Jennifer Lynn Restle and Camille

Many thanks to our instructors:
Melinda Angstrom, Class Supervisor
Jolene Hollister, ACTION Instructor
Justine DiNapoli, Class Instructor
Kate Schroer-Shepord, Class Instructor
Andrea Martine, Special Needs Instructor
James Gardner, Home Training Instructor
Kristina Andersen, Home Training Instructor
Julia Weatherseed, Instructor Assistant

Edward Brady and ClarkEdward Brady and Clark
New Yorker Eddie Brady returns to Guiding Eyes for Clark, a male yellow Lab.  He comes from a large close-knit family and received his first guide dog in his twenties after losing his sight as the result of a gunshot wound.

Eddie was employed at Consolidated Yacht Yard.  He enjoys reading and looks forward to traveling more with Guiding Eyes Clark.  He jokes about Clark’s “leaf distraction,” citing it as one of the rare moments when the dog takes his mind off the job.





Phyllis Callender and AsherPhyllis Callender and Asher
Phyllis Callendar is also from New York.  This month she was matched male yellow Lab Asher.

Phyllis is one of four daughters. She has a son, three grand daughters and one grandson. When she was younger, she went to Lovell School for the Blind and then attended public elementary and high school. She worked for New York Industries for the Blind and is now employed at Stop and Shop.

Congenital glaucoma caused her sight impairment. She was a member of a bowling league for over twenty years and enjoys music, television, and travel.

Asher is Phyllis’ fifth guide dog.  She truly enjoyed meeting his puppy raisers and looks forward to having a friendship with them.  She is also thrilled with the safety that Asher will provide her on their travels throughout New York City.

William L. Casias and HadleyWilliam L. Casias and Hadley
Will Casias traveled from Missouri for his first guide dog – Hadley, a yellow male Lab.

He has been married for 32 years and has three children and five grandchildren.  Oddly enough, one grandchild shares both Hadley’s name and birth year!

Will lost his sight due to sarcoidosis disease.  His blindness has not prevented him from a long and illustrious career.  He is a veteran and has received two bachelors’ degrees; he attended Lubbock Christian College for marketing and David Lipscomb University for accounting.  Will built computers for the music industry and was an auditor for the IRS. Today he loves to play golf, fish, and read.  He is a preacher, and plans to do ambassador work for Guiding Eyes.


Abigail Cocanougher and BancroftAbigail Cocanougher and Bancroft
Kentucky resident Abby Cocanougher received yellow Lab Bancroft through the expedited ACTION training program.  She lost her sight due to retinopathy of prematurity.

Abby attended Kentucky School for the Blind and graduated as valedictorian. She majored in music performance and plays the violin.  She then attended Florida State University where she received her master’s degree in vision rehabilitation therapy.  Abby now teaches Braille at the Charles McDowell Center.

Bancroft is Abby’s second guide dog.  He is more serious than her first and always wants to please.  Abby loved everything about her time at Guiding Eyes, and is looking forward to getting home and showing off her new companion.


Douglas M. Coyle and PacerDouglas M. Coyle and Pacer
Doug Coyle is from Georgia.  This month he was partnered with Pacer, a male yellow Lab.

Doug and his wife have four children and ten grandchildren. He is a ranger with the National Park Service and works as a tour guide at the Martin Luther King National Historic Site. When not working, he plays the saxophone and keyboard.  He is also very involved with his church and with Global Media Outreach, an online ministry program.

Doug attended Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind.  He has bachelors’ degrees in political science from Washington and Jefferson College and in theology from The Way College.

Retinopathy of prematurity caused Doug’s vision loss. He finds the transition from an experienced guide dog to a new one to be an exciting adventure.  Pacer is more feisty and playful than retired guide Orvis.  Doug is looking forward to seeing his family and getting back to work.

Eva Eason and MarcusEva Eason and Marcus
New Yorker Eva Eason was matched with male German shepherd Marcus.  She was born with congenital glaucoma and ultimately lost her vision due to retinal detachment.

Eva has two daughters and works as a receptionist for The Center for Independence of the Disabled New York.  She enjoys reading, friends, family, writing and listening to music.

Marcus is a gentleman in his own right, always looking back and checking on her. He loves to work and walking with him feels like he is gliding. She knows he will bond with her kitty. Eva feels she has found a second home at Guiding Eyes.  She shares, “Everyone here has impressed me and the school is beyond my expectations. The training is excellent and the staff friendly, helpful and welcoming. The opportunity for the ACTION program suited my needs perfectly.”


Pamela Garde and HildyPamela Garde and Hildy
Pam Garde traveled from neighboring Connecticut and was matched with Hildy, a yellow female Lab.

Pam received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Eastern Connecticut State University.  She has been employed with Reminder Media, Inc. for over 22 years.  She began as a telemarketer and now works as a liaison between the public and various internal departments to help resolve customer issues.

Pam has always enjoyed creative writing.  In addition, she spends time on long walks with her dog, meeting with friends, watching movies, and reading books on tape.  When she realized she could be even more independent, she reached out to Guiding Eyes for a guide dog.

Retinopathy of prematurity is the cause of Pam’s sight loss.  Hildy is her fifth guide dog, and Pam marvels over her skills – she finds her absolutely amazing. “She is fabulous. I want to shout from the rooftops. A perfect match, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

Jennifer A. Hawkins and FarleyJennifer A. Hawkins and Farley
Jennifer Hawkins is from Illinois.  She was matched with her first guide dog – male Golden Retriever / Labrador cross Farley.

Jennifer was born with a rare genetic disease that caused her retinas to detach and her hearing to become impaired.  Guiding Eyes’ Special Needs Program allowed her to work one-on-one with an instructor fluent in tactile sign language.

After graduating from high school, Jennifer took classes at Hadley School for the Blind.  She worked at the local humane society for four years, and is now employed fulfilling contracts for Caterpillar.  She also teaches a sign language class for her colleagues.

Jennifer is passionate about turtles and horses.  She trained her retired racehorse for barrel racing and had fun competing with him.

Farley has turned out to be her dream dog.  However, there has been an additional benefit of her time at Guiding Eyes – Jennifer became close friends with fellow student Meagan and the girls are considering finding an apartment together.

William Juckett and BarbaraWilliam (Bill) Juckett and Barbara
Bill Juckett was born and raised in New York.  This month he was matched with his fifth guide dog from Guiding Eyes – yellow Lab Barbara.

He has a son and works in maintenance for the Dutchess County Department of Mental Hygiene.  His main role is at a school for physically and mentally handicapped children.

Bill was born with severe myopia and an abnormally narrow eye.  He enjoys staying in touch with friends and travel. He has been an ambassador for Guiding Eyes for over five years, and looks forward to continuing his work with Barbara. Together they will recruit new volunteers and donors.

“The bond between a dog and handler is indescribable. When I learned of my grandmother’s passing, my dog Bruno stayed beside me.  He wouldn’t leave my side.  Bill is sure a strong bond will form with Barbara, a wonderful, loving dog – always ready for hugs and kisses.  He believes Guiding Eyes to be more than a school; the organization feels like family.

Carol Kelsey and Finn (not profiled)
Carol Kelsey is a returning Guiding Eyes student and lives in New York. She is matched with Finn, a yellow male Lab.

Vladimir Matsiborchuk and GallantVladimir Matsiborchuk and Gallant
Vladimir Matsiborchuk and his family live in New York.  He was matched with Gallant, a male yellow Lab.

Vladimir has a wife, a son in college and a stepdaughter who owns her own business. He received his master’s degree from a university in the Soviet Union and practiced law there and in the independent Ukraine. He came to the United States and earned an American master’s degree through the Connecticut Law School program for foreign lawyers. He is admitted to the New York State Bar, Fourth Court of Appeals in Virginia and Supreme Court of the U. S. Federal Admissions.  Currently he practices general law.

He was born with sight and lost his vision at nine from severe complications from the flu. Atrophy of the optic nerves affected both of his eyes. He likes to stay fit and often jogs, lifts weights, and swims.  Vladimir particularly enjoys winter swimming in the Long Island Sound.

In a very short time, Vladimir and Gallant have begun working as a team.  The dog is extremely bright, knows all the commands, and quickly makes improvements. Vladimir is looking forward to introducing him to his home and smoothly handling any obstacles together.

Meagan A. Tanner and DonnaMeagan A. Tanner and Donna
Meagan Tanner is a Deaf/Blind student from Alabama.  She was paired with yellow Lab Donna.

Meagan is a senior in high school and lives with her parents and her younger sister.  Donna will share their home with three pet dogs.  Meagan is a competitive cheerleader and teaches classes in conditioning, stretching and tumbling.  She will attend college next year and is interested in the medical field, particularly physical therapy because of its correlation with sports.

Meagan’s vision loss was caused by optic nerve dysplasia at birth. She was referred to Guiding Eyes by her orientation and mobility specialist and has loved the experience.  She can’t wait to take Donna everywhere with her, including cheerleading competitions. “Donna won’t be wearing ribbons on her head, but I may put something on her harness!”

Charley R. Tipps and FletcherCharley R. Tipps and Fletcher
Oklahoma resident Charley Tipps is from Oklahoma and was matched with his first guide dog – male yellow Lab Fletcher.

Charley took broadcasting in high school and spent seven years doing local interviews. After college, he worked at the local cable and radio stations and is employed with the state rehab services for the blind as a counselor and teacher. He is also a practicing minister and a certified vision rehabilitation specialist with bachelors and masters degrees in vocational rehab counseling.

Three and five grandchildren fill Charley’s life. His wife Ruthie has dogs from Guiding Eyes.  He is an outdoor person – an old country kid who loves riding horses and raising chickens. A big part of his life is writing, recording and producing music. He plays piano, organ, accordion, drums and keyboard.  He also loves reading.

Charley was born with retinopathy of prematurity.  He decided it was time for a guide dog when he had a bad fall while traveling with his cane.  He is looking forward to traveling more frequently and faster with Fletcher by his side.