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PangNhia and Elana

Meet Home Training Graduate PangNhia

Grad PangNhia in a rose colored dress sits next to guide dog ElanaGraduate Team: PangNhia and Elana
About the Team: Elana, a female yellow Lab, is PangNhia’s first guide dog
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Lori Busse

PangNhia and her husband live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with their pet border collie. PangNhia’s brother and his wife live nearby with their three dogs, so when she’s not working guide dog Elana has four new canine friends to play with. PangNhia works in manufacturing at Beyond Vision, a non-profit organization that provides employment for blind individuals, while offering manufacturing services to large companies and government agencies. In her free time, PangNhia enjoys cooking, going on walks, and listening to music.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Elana is very, very smart. She can be sassy, but she’s also very chill and cuddly. She likes to press up against me and sometimes I’ll get down at her level and hug her and she’ll just let me. She’s so very affectionate.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I wanted to be more independent and go places on my own without having to wait for people. I thought that having a guide dog would help me achieve that goal. I also have trouble traveling when I don’t have anything to shoreline, , and I had many instances where I got lost. Some of my friends said a guide dog would help with that. Two of my friends actually went to Guiding Eyes and referred me to the school. Originally, I had wanted to come to the NY campus to do the training but ended up doing Home Training and had a really good experience. I am so grateful for Guiding Eyes.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s been great. She’s always with me and I’m more confident. I go to the mall by myself with Elana and to see family members more often. I don’t have to wait for anyone, which is definitely a plus. I don’t get lost because Elana is very smart and knows what she’s doing. She’s so good when we go out; she sits under the table or next to me. I even walk a lot faster with Elana. When I was using my cane, I wanted to feel what my cane was hitting, which made me slow down a lot because I was always afraid of hitting something. With Elana I can just breeze through and get to places a lot quicker.”

Were there any training highlights? “When I walked with my cane, sometimes I would walk right past my house. After two practices with Elana, she was able to find our way home. She’s so smart. Lori had put some Velcro under my mailbox so I could reach out and feel if I was at my mailbox. When Elana and I got there, I reached out and felt it, and I knew she brought us home. It was my house that she stopped at.”

Meet Guide Dog Elana

Elana is THE BEST!  She is an easy, relaxed, funny, intelligent dog who is always up for an adventure! We began raising Elana March 2020 as the country began shutting down. She really helped us through a very difficult time.  I work at a community center, and she’d greet all of the volunteers like a pro, even as a little puppy!  Because she was a pandemic puppy, we all hiked SO MUCH.  Traditional outings were limited but she came to day camp with me every day and was exposed to a lot of kids.  They still ask about her! We all had such a strong bond with Elana. We were all stuck in the house together; everyone had a sweet relationship with Elana… including the cat! Congratulations!! You’ve got one sweet pup!  We are so excited to hear what the next chapter of her story will be!

Kate Tucci and family, Puppy Raisers of Elana

Enjoy these photos of the team and Elana as a pup on program…