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September 2018 Graduating Class

Congratulations to our September 2018 graduating class!

Congratulations to guide dog Forest and the September 2018 graduating class. — Bob Rollmann and Cindy Sullivan, fosters for proud dad Guiding Eyes Ingot

We gratefully acknowledge the Fain Family’s support of our video streaming capabilities.

Watch this month’s graduation live

Residential Graduates:

  • Allison & Kennedy (P)
  • Cheryl & Tyra
  • Faye & Demi (P)
  • Jasmine & Biscuit
  • Kelly & Helene
  • Pablo & Forest
  • Pinkie & Barbara
  • Raven & Tammy

Home Training Graduates:

  • Doug & Navy (P)
  • Michael & Zara
  • Mike & Marcus
  • Sandy & Iggie
  • Tina & Kahlua

Many thanks to our Training Staff:

  • Class Supervisor: Jolene Hollister
  • Class Instructors: Michelle Tang & Katherine Russell
  • ACTION Instructor: Stephanie Koret
  • Running Guides Specialist: Nick Speranza
  • Instructor Assistant: Madison Swab
  • Home Training Instructors: Graham Buck, Megan Baker, Chrissy Vetrano, Jessy DiNapoli & Melissa Smith

P: A Pathfinder Society Member — someone who has remembered Guiding Eyes in their estate plans and has received this dog’s progress reports and photos from puppyhood.

Meet the Residential Training Graduates

September 2018 graduates Allison and Kennedy
Allison and Kennedy

Graduate Team: Allison & Kennedy, graduates of the Running Guides Training program
About Kennedy: Kennedy is a male yellow Lab and Allison’s first guide dog
Hometown: Beverly, Massachusetts

An avid runner with several half marathons under her belt, Allison is part of Guiding Eyes’ one-of-a-kind Running Guides program. Her first guide dog, Kennedy, has already impressed her by guiding her on local trails during her training, so the pair should have no trouble setting their sights on full marathon training. Kennedy, or “Kenny,” as Allison lovingly calls him, will accompany Allison on her many adventures as she stays active in rock climbing, surfing, paddle boarding, and hiking.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Kennedy is a 74-pound lap dog; he’s super snuggly. He’s also very friendly and loves people. His favorite game to play is tug.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “I wanted more confidence in traveling. I wanted to feel more independent and do more things on my own. Kennedy is a Running Guide, too, and that was important to me. I didn’t want to be dependent on other people when I wanted to go for a run.”

What are you looking forward to about returning home? “My husband travels every week for work, so I don’t have to worry about barriers anymore. I can go out on my own now that I have Kennedy. I can also be on my own while running with him on a trail and bring him to running events. We live by the ocean, so I can’t wait to take him swimming, too.”

Any training highlights? “I ran a trail with Kennedy yesterday. I didn’t think he’d be able to do it, but he ran well and really enjoys it. It’s nice to be able to get off the pavement and run on trail again.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “More confidence and more independence. I don’t have to depend on other people as much. I feel like I can do everything on my own; I don’t have to ask for help doing things I’ve always wanted to do. With a cane, you have to find the barriers yourself, but a dog will guide you safely around them. They take away some of the guess work. Kennedy makes me feel safer.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “Have good O&M skills first. You still need to tell the dog where to go and be able to safely travel on your own. I’d recommend it, though. It’s a lot of responsibility, but having a dog is better than cane travel.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “Great! I’m very impressed with the patience of the trainers. Everyone is so accommodating and goes above and beyond for you. The trainers genuinely care about our success. Everyone is helpful from the very beginning – from the admissions process to graduation.”

Congrats to Kennedy’s puppy raiser, Bob Piccin!

September 2018 graduates Cheryl and Tyra
Cheryl and Tyra

Graduate Team: Cheryl and Tyra, graduates of the ACTION Training program
About Tyra: Tyra, a female black Lab, is Cheryl’s fourth guide dog, and her third from Guiding Eyes
Hometown: Northfield, Minnesota

As an experienced guide dog user, Cheryl appreciates the quick pace and personalized approach of the accelerated ACTION Training program. She continues to settle into life at home with Tyra, where she looks forward to volunteering at her local women’s health center, teaching Sunday school for young children, and leading services at her church.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Tyra is very sweet and always likes to be near me, even when she’s not working. When she is in harness, she’s very focused and always checks in with me.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “I was looking for more freedom. The cane can be cumbersome and get in the way. I wanted a guide dog so I could walk normally again; a dog keeps you moving. People also tend to ignore you with a cane, but a guide dog is a conversation starter. It makes you more approachable.”

What are you looking forward to about working with Tyra? “We’ve already been grocery shopping, riding the bus, and going to doctor appointments together. She is quickly settling into life here at home and it’s very encouraging. I’m really looking forward to continuing to incorporate her into my day-to-day life and her companionship.”

Any training highlights? “I enjoyed everything about the program. It was nice to be able to master something and then quickly move on to something else. The program is geared toward you and your lifestyle. I also liked getting to know my trainer, Stephanie, and building a rapport between us and Tyra.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Overall, it’s been extremely positive. Tyra is not only my guide, but my companion and friend. It’s nice to have that unconditional love.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “It can seem overwhelming when you’re first researching and looking into it, but the love and reward you get from a dog is so worth it.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “I love Guiding Eyes. I can’t say enough great things about them!”

Congrats to Tyra’s puppy raisers, Donna and Ron Schwab!

September 2018 graduates Faye and Demi
Faye and Demi

Graduate Team: Faye & Demi
About Demi: Demi, a female black Lab, is Faye’s seventh guide dog and second from Guiding Eyes
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Describing herself as “outgoing,” Faye says she “loves life” and lives it to the fullest – now with her seventh guide dog (and second from Guiding Eyes), Demi, by her side. As an experienced guide dog user, Faye has seen many different dog personalities, and is looking forward to heading home with this playful “sweetheart.”

How would you describe Demi? “Loveable! She loves to play, loves attention, and is such a sweetheart. She plays more than my previous dogs, but when she’s working her temperament is just like Inez . She’s a little more playful and I love it.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? For Faye, it’s simple: “I don’t like my cane!”

What are you looking forward to about returning home? “I love to shop! I’m looking forward to things like going to the store, going grocery shopping, going clothes shopping. And just walking my neighborhood with Demi.”

Any training highlights? “It was excellent! When she gets to the curb she just flies off it and is ready to go.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s had a big impact. It helps me to see. It gives me confidence. I’d just rather have a guide dog than use a cane. Plus it’s been really an awesome training here, and coming back to get another dog. And they matched me with the PERFECT dog.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “I would tell them to come to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in New York. It’s one of the best schools. And be prepared to work. It’s not easy so prepare yourself to be ready to walk!”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “I love it! It’s just an awesome school. The dogs, the trainers… all the people here have beautiful personalities. Something in my heart just said pick this school – it led me here and I loved it.”

Congratulations to Demi’s puppy raisers, the Hewitt Family and Cindy and Stu Chait!

September 2018 graduates Jasmine and Biscuit
Jasmine and Biscuit

Graduate Team: Jasmine & Biscuit
About Biscuit: Biscuit is a male yellow Lab & Jasmine’s first guide dog
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana

Despite slowly losing her vision over the years, Jasmine stays busy caring for her family: a husband of 10 years, two children, and a cat, Pandia. From family trips to her city zoo to Irish step-dancing classes and events for the kids, she still finds time for two of her favorite hobbies: playing her djembe drum in drum circles and fusion belly dancing. Above all else, Jasmine feels that getting Biscuit is the next step towards a new chapter in her life.

How would you describe Biscuit? “Biscuit is a lovebug and a people pleaser. He’s a 66-pound dog who thinks he is a lap dog. He loves being scratched behind the ears and near his tail, while always preferring a hand to hold his chew bone. I know he’s a happy dog when his tail wags vigorously.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “I’ve had diminishing vision since childhood, so I knew total blindness would be in my future, at some point, as an adult. Getting a guide dog was like the light at the end of the tunnel; I get a dog who also gets to be my best buddy. A cane is great, but it doesn’t give you love.”

What are you looking forward to about returning home? “Taking him everywhere I go is top of the list. I am excited to walk down the street and not find every trash can and sidewalk crack I come across. I’m also extremely motivated to get back into the workforce now that I have Biscuit by my side.  I recently became a Salesforce Certified Administrator; once home, I start an internship with a marketing firm for the next couple of months to gain some experience in this new field. The marketing firm is already excited to have a guide dog around the office.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I travel by myself a lot, so I wanted the companionship and trust that comes along with a guide dog. Biscuit is a pleaser when it comes to working and wants to keep me safe and happy. I look forward to years of adventures with Biscuit.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “I suggest doing research and looking into all of the guide dog schools across the country. Decide what is important to you and what you need, not just where the school is located. If you are looking for a guide dog: ask around, read reviews, find blind and guide dog Facebook groups, take courses, and call the schools to ask questions to ensure you make the right decision of where you get your training.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “I like that Guiding Eyes uses positive reinforcement in their training; it’s very similar to how I’ve raised my children. Some other factors I like about Guiding Eyes are the smaller class sizes, their instructor to student ratios, and the length of training on campus. I love that they are invested in their teams once you graduate and continue to care about the dog after you leave. It’s great to know that Guiding Eyes is always just a phone call away if I need help with anything.”

Congratulations to Biscuit’s puppy raiser, Denise M. Barber!

September 2018 graduates Kelly and Helene
Kelly and Helene

Graduate Team: Kelly & Helene
About Helene: Helene is a female yellow Lab and Kelly’s first guide dog
Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska

Despite being comfortable with cane travel for more than 20 years, Kelly decided now was the time to get first guide dog, Helene, upon the recommendation of several friends. With a certification in braille education and a masters from Louisiana Tech, she hopes to one day teach kids accessibility and braille. But it’s not all work and no play; Kelly also loves to paint landscapes and spend time reading in her local coffee shop – which she’ll now do with Helene by her side.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Helene is extremely smart and she knows it. She loves to work and is very loving. She does a great job.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog?  “I used a cane for 20 years and liked it, but I have friends who have guide dogs and recommended it. I thought it was time to try something different.”

What are you looking forward to about returning home? “I’m looking forward to seeing how my cat reacts to Helene; he’s a very spoiled cat. I also care for my grandmother, so I’m excited to see how she will bond with her. My grandmother likes dogs, so it’ll be fun to watch.”

Any training highlights? “There have been so many. I think the biggest highlight was how quickly Helene bonded with me. Also, the day we did traffic checks. It was amazing to see what the dogs are capable of.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s certainly busier. Having a guide dog is like having a child; she makes me think of someone other than myself. I appreciate having a companion by my side when I’m out doing stuff. She makes traveling easier and better. Helene will be a good wing-woman.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “A guide dog is not for everyone, so make sure you have good cane travel skills and a good sense of direction first.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “I really like it here. Guiding Eyes is a relaxed and organized school. You have high standards for your students and their success, and I appreciate that.”

Congratulations to Helene’s puppy raisers, Karie Livingston and Sharlene Vanderbrook!

September 2018 graduates Pablo and Forest
Pablo and Forest

Graduate Team: Pablo & Forest
About Forest: Forest is a yellow male Lab and Pablo’s first guide dog
Hometown: Houston, Texas

A busy soon-to-be dad, Pablo is eager to bring Forest home and introduce him to his wife and pet Yorkie, Sky, as they patiently await the arrival of their first child. Working as a mail clerk in a bustling area of Houston, Pablo looks forward to an easier commute now with Forest by his side.

How would you describe Forest? “Forest is very laid back and calm. He listens really well and is a very good dog.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “It was hard for me to commute with a white cane. I wanted a guide dog so he could take me around obstacles and I could be more independent. There are often cones, shopping carts, and other things in the middle of sidewalks, and I’d run right into them. Sometimes I’d even run into people. That doesn’t happen with Forest.”

What are you looking forward to about returning home? “I have a baby on the way, so I wanted to get a guide dog before the baby arrives. Now I’m looking forward to working with Forest at home, going on walks, and seeing how he gets along with my other dog, Sky. My wife and Sky are excited to meet him. I’m curious to see how Forest does at my job, too.”

Any training highlights? “I liked everything about the training. It was a new experience for me, so I enjoyed every bit of it. It’s amazing to see how well these dogs are trained to work.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I feel more confident. Forest helps me get around better than I did with a cane. He can target things that I couldn’t with a cane and navigate around them.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “I highly recommend getting a guide dog and coming to this school. A guide dog isn’t for everyone but if it is, go for it.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “I’m happy I’m here. All of the staff is great – the trainers, the kitchen staff. Everyone is so nice, and they treat us right. I’m glad I chose this school. I like the environment and grounds here, too.”

Congratulations to Forest’s puppy raiser, Pat Webber!

September 2018 graduates Pinkie and Barbara
Pinkie and Barbara

Graduate Team: Pinkie & Barbara
About Barbara: Barbara is a female black Lab and Pinkie’s first guide dog
Hometown: Lodi, Wisconsin

When asked about her new guide dog, Pinkie fondly described Barbara, nicknamed “Babs,” as her perfect match. “She is basically me, but as a dog.” She looks forward to returning home, where her fiancé, in-laws, and black cat, Monster Kitty, eagerly anticipate their arrival. Pinkie is excited to introduce “Babs” to her crocheting hobby, daily walks, and trips to the movies.

How would you describe Barbara? “Barbara is very patient, which is great for me because I’m also very patient. She is a really great guide dog and works well with me. When she is out of harness, she is also quite silly and loves to run around in circles with her toys. Guiding Eyes matched us very well. She is basically me, but as a dog. She’s great; I love her.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “I missed a lot when walking with a cane because of my limited eyesight. I went to three different eye doctors and they all suggested I get a dog. When I almost got hit by a truck, it terrified me, and I quit walking by myself. Now, I’m comfortable walking again with Barbara.”

What are you looking forward to about returning home? “I’m excited to teach Barbara my routes. I can’t wait to show her around my home and teach her to target my steps. I’m also excited to see how she will get along with my cat. I love to crochet, so I’m looking forward to seeing how she will react to the yarn laying around my home and whether she will try to play with it.”

Any training highlights? “This being my first guide dog experience, it’s all very exciting to me. I was expecting it to be hard for Barbara to listen to me, but she listens so well. I’m amazed as to how well the dogs are trained. With a pet dog, it’s different. It’s amazing to see everything these guide dogs can do.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Barbara has impacted my life a lot. I wish I had done this sooner. I can travel by myself again and I don’t have to worry about things like a car running me over. I have a lot more independence now, so I’m excited to see where Babs and I end up.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “Having a guide dog is a lot of responsibility, so make sure it’s the right choice for you. It can be nerve-racking at first, but take training at your own pace. It will change your life.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “I looked at a number of different schools when I was researching, but I kept coming back to Guiding Eyes. The reviews, the staff, and the campus are great. The people and the dogs are amazing. I love that we can live here during training and that there is a vet right on campus. I also like that it’s a nonprofit organization.” 

Congratulations to Barbara’s puppy raisers, Danielle and Brandon Slover, Jaimee Emming, and Rebecca Banfield!

September 2018 graduates Raven and Tammy
Raven and Tammy

Graduate Team: Raven & Tammy
About Tammy: A black female Lab, Tammy is Raven’s second Guiding Eyes guide dog
Hometown: Rochester, Michigan

Raven is no stranger to guide dogs – both having her own and working three to four days per week with puppies at another guide dog school near her home. Now that she is working with her second guide dog, Tammy, Raven came into class feeling confident about letting a dog guide her and focused on building a strong bond with her new companion.

How would you describe Tammy? “She is very responsive and communicates easily with me. When something distracting is happening, Tammy will look back and check in with me. That’s very important to me. She also likes to snuggle a lot; she loves to be right in your face.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “When I was in school, I got stranded during a snowstorm. I left my college dorm and couldn’t find my way back. That was the moment I decided I couldn’t do Michigan winters alone and without a dog.”

What are you looking forward to about returning home? “I’m looking forward to showing her my favorite hangout spots. I live in a downtown area of the city and like to go to coffee shops and a few wineries here.”

Any training highlights? “My dog does everything that she should. She doesn’t get distracted and is careful and watchful over me. Training was very easy for me this time around because I know what it’s supposed to feel like to let your dog guide you. Everything came a lot quicker for me and I was able to truly focus on just communicating with my dog this time.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I travel a lot more confidently. I don’t have to worry about what is in front of me or how I’ll get around it. Traveling is more fluid. Also, my first guide dog, Kipling, inspired me to start working with dogs professionally, and I’ve now been working at another guide dog school for the past three years.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “Try to think about things from your dog’s perspective. Sometimes we get stuck in our own head about the difficulties we are going through, but we don’t stop to think about how much the dog’s life has changed since they started working. Remember to think about what the dog needs from us and what motivates them to build a strong relationship with you.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “I appreciate that Guiding Eyes always takes their students into consideration. The school supports us in any way they can to ensure that we will be successful with our guide dogs after leaving. I like that they put the dogs first, too. The trainers make sure that we know how to care for our dogs and the best way to communicate with them.”

Congrats to Tammy’s puppy raisers, the Scheffel Family!

Meet the Home Training Graduates

September 2018 graduates Douglass and Navy pose for a photo while sitting on a bench in the mall
Doug and Navy

Graduate Team: Doug and Navy
About Navy: Navy, a black Lab, is Doug’s fifth guide dog; his fourth from Guiding Eyes
Hometown: Homer City, Pennsylvania

Doug, a guide dog user for 30 years, knows what it takes to make a successful guide dog team. When asked about Guiding Eyes, he can’t say enough great things about its quality of dogs and instruction. Now retired from the information technology field, he relies on Navy’s guidance less for commuting and more for enjoying his life in the country and free time participating in his local amateur radio club.

How would you describe Navy? “Navy is a very sweet boy. He’s enjoying gaining experience as a guide dog.”

Training highlights? “I really liked the individual instruction and the ability to customize my training to my particular needs. As an experienced guide dog user, it was great to capitalize on the strengths I already had while working on areas that needed more attention. Overall, it was a great experience.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “As a child, I had limited vision but was a fast walker. Then I started having more difficulties as a working adult in the middle of my career. I was good at traveling with a cane but as my vision continued to degrade, I relied on it. My pace slowed considerately. I knew people who used guide dogs and I saw how quickly and easily they walked with them. Plus, as a lifelong dog-lover, getting one seemed like something that made sense for me. As soon as I took those first few steps with my first dog, I knew I made the right decision.”

What are you looking forward to about working with Navy? “Now that I’m retired, there is less of a demand for help with commuting. I’m really looking forward to just maintaining the mobility and independence I’ve enjoyed by working with guide dogs for the last 30 years.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “They have enhanced my mobility and increased my confidence. I’d even go as far as saying they helped me advance my career. I am able to travel more fluidly; it’s safer and less intrusive than traveling with a cane. After having guide dogs for 30 years, I can’t imagine doing it any other way.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “Definitely consider it. A dog will give you more freedom and a fluid, more natural way of moving than you can with a cane. A dog will move you effortlessly down a crowded sidewalk, subway station, or wherever you might be.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “Guiding Eyes works very hard to provide the highest quality guide dogs and the highest quality instruction. They proactively take steps to ensure dogs are the best matches for their handlers. They remain dedicated to quality and do the best they can. A lot of organizations say this, but I know this to be true first-hand every time I pick up Navy’s harness and get safely to my destination – and with a loving companion by my side, too.”

Congrats to Navy’s puppy raiser, Caitlyn Landry!

September 2018 graduates Mike and Marcus
Mike and Marcus

Graduate Team: Mike and Marcus
About Marcus: Marcus is a black Lab and Mike’s third guide dog from Guiding Eyes
Hometown: Westwego, Louisiana

“You wouldn’t believe how much of a profound impact my guide dogs have made on me. They’re incredible.” As a third time guide dog user, Mike is extremely grateful for Marcus and the previous two dogs Guiding Eyes has paired him with. He feels more confident than ever before and is able to safely travel into town, run errands, and go for daily walks at his local track with Marcus.

How would you describe Marcus? “He’s really laid back and loves to play with his toys. Chrissy was kind enough to buy him a ball with a squeaky toy in it.  When we’re not working, he’ll bring it to me and we’ll play tug. He’s also an incredible working dog. He’s just perfect.”

Training highlights? “I really enjoyed working in my home area. Chrissy was very informative and gave me a lot of helpful tips. I like to learn something new every day. Even though Marcus is my third guide dog, I learned something new every time we went out on a route.

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “I lost most of my sight in 1995. At the time, I thought only totally blind people could apply for guide dogs. I walked with a cane for four years and it was really frustrating for me. If I was walking on a sidewalk, the cane would get stuck in a crack and then it would hit me in the leg; I got beat up using my cane. I didn’t trust it and I felt really uncomfortable using it. I was always scared that I was going to get run over crossing the street. Then my daughter helped me look through information about guide dog schools. When she started telling me about Guiding Eyes, I stopped her and said, ‘Say no more. This is the place for me.’”

What are you looking forward to about working with Marcus? “Everything. I love being in his company. The more we work together, the better we are going to get. My main goal right now is building a solid bond with him. It’s also great to be independent enough now to go out whenever and wherever I want.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s unbelievable; I can’t explain how it makes me feel. I have more confidence. I trust my dog and I know that he’s going to safely get me from point A to point B. You wouldn’t believe how much of a profound impact my guide dogs have made on me. They’re incredible.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “Trust your dog and trust your training. And I would definitely recommend going to Guiding Eyes.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “I feel extremely blessed to have my third guide dog from Guiding Eyes. All of the people are great. They are like family – even the ones I haven’t met yet. Everyone is so caring and considerate; they genuinely care about the students and the dogs. Words can’t express the extreme gratitude I have for the school. It’s an honor and privilege for me to have had one great Guiding Eyes dog. Now, I’m blessed with my third. In my humble opinion, Guiding Eyes is the best guide dog school out there.”

Congratulations to Marcus’ puppy raisers, the Rackliffe Family and Kaitlin Kohut!

September 2018 graduates Michael and Zara
Michael and Zara

Graduate Team: Michael & Zara
About Zara: Zara is a female black Lab and Michael’s third guide dog; his first from Guiding Eyes
Hometown: Chula Vista, California

Michael’s biggest training highlight? The wait for his next guide dog was over. Now paired with his third guide dog, Zara, he’s excited to see where life takes him. Michael looks forward to getting back into his career as a massage therapist, going to car meetups with his nineteen-year-old son, and being an advocate for guide dogs to his local blind community. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Zara has her quirks and thinks she is a diva, but to me she’s like a human. She likes to share her bone with us and her toys with our cat, Shrimpy. Every day, she greets our son at the door when he comes home. Zara is very compassionate and emotional. She’s a very caring dog.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “People respect you more when you have a dog than with a cane. They don’t understand what the white cane is, but when you’re working with a dog, you’re approachable. A dog also gives you more independence.”

What are you looking forward to about working with Zara? “The years of working together that we have ahead of us. I’m also looking forward to getting back into my career, meeting different people, and the different adventures we’ll go on. I’m excited to see where life takes us.”

Any training highlights? “My trainer, Graham. I was at ease and could be myself around him. He made it fun and we had a really good time training together. But the biggest highlight was that my wait to get a guide dog was over.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I am more independent now. Traveling with a dog is safer; you have to concentrate more when you’re using a cane on curbs and stairs. You still have to know the area and where you’re going, but you’re more relaxed and it’s a lot easier with a dog.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “Don’t hesitate. I should’ve done this yesterday. You have to put a lot of thought into it, but the reward you get from having a dog is amazing and worth it.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “Great all around. I had a better experience at Guiding Eyes than any other school I’ve gone to. Everything went smoothly, I was always informed, and they told me I can call with questions at any time. I recommend Guiding Eyes first and foremost than any other school. I think they’re top-notch.”

Congrats to Zara’s puppy raiser, Mr. Gregory Dunham!

September 2018 graduates Sandra and Iggie
Sandy and Iggie

Graduate Team: Sandy & Iggie
About Iggie: Iggie is a female black Lab
Hometown: Springfield, Massachusetts

Congrats to Iggie’s puppy raisers, Alan and Carolyn Lauer!

September 2018 graduates Tina and Kahlua
Tina and Kahlua

Graduate Team: Tina & Kahlua
About Kahlua: Kahlua is a female German Shepard and Tina’s third guide dog
Hometown: Logan, Utah

For Tina, guide dogs have given her the confidence she needs to take on new challenges. Whether it’s teaching, taking classes toward her master’s degree at Utah State University, or traveling, Kahlua’s enthusiasm and love of guide work encourages Tina to pursue her career goals and passions.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Kahlua is very enthusiastic about life; it shows through her guide work. She loves to love and be loved.”

Why did you decide to get a guide dog? “I got my first guide dog when I was 18. I knew a dog would give me more freedom, independence, and confidence when I went to college. A dog is an ice breaker, whereas a cane makes people afraid to talk to you.”

What are you looking forward to about working with Kahlua? “I’m looking forward to traveling with her and seeing different sights and cities. Traveling is my passion, and Kahlua has a love for adventure like I do.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “My guide dogs have made me into the person I am today. They have helped shape my love for what is in front of me. They have given me the courage to face my fears and take on challenges.”

What would you say to someone thinking about getting a guide dog? “It was the best choice I’ve ever made. Guiding Eyes changes hearts and lives. I’d say go for it! They’re wonderful dogs and opportunities will open for you that you never knew were there.”

How do you feel about Guiding Eyes? “I love the organization. It’s full of enthusiastic people with a vision. Guiding Eyes goes above and beyond to make sure their dogs and students are cared for. They give us the tools we need to be successful.”

Congratulations to Kahlua’s puppy raisers, the Stephens Family and Elora Hixon!