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Sheila and Ollie

Meet Graduate Sheila

Sheila smiles sitting with black Lab guide dog Ollie for their team portraitGraduate Team:   Sheila and Ollie
About the Team:  Ollie is a male, black Lab and Sheila’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Location:   Daytona Beach, Florida
Training:   Feb 2024 On-Campus

Sheila is retired and a member of the NFB in Florida. In January of 2024, she attended the National Federation of the Blind’s Washington Seminar in the nation’s capital, where she advocated for key legislation to promote inclusion and equality for the blind community. This included advocating for changes in medical devices, like blood sugar monitors that can communicate audibly with blind users. Sheila loves reading and is a member of BARD, (Braille and Audio Reading Download National Library Service). She enjoys travel and has taken cruises to the Bahamas twice. She also likes out-of-state adventures, such as visiting her parents in Maine, which she and Ollie did right after graduation. Besides new experiences with her guide Ollie, Sheila is looking forward to her daughter giving birth to her new grandson, and she and her husband moving into a new home.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Ollie is a special named dog. He is sweet and outgoing and has his own personality.  He nudges me with his nose then backs up and looks at me, to let me know when he needs to go out.  He gets very excited when we walk on a new route.  In a few weeks when we go to our new home in Florida, both of us will learn about the community together.  In harness, he is great and takes me up and down store aisles avoiding obstacles.  He likes trying new things, and when we are walking outside, he takes me to the curb, then stops,  assessing safe crossing.  We had an instant bond at the training school.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I did my research.  I previously had a shepherd and wanted to try a different breed. I had done home training before, but wanted class training and knew that Guiding Eyes did that.  I am so glad that I went for training on campus, because I learned a lot at the Guiding Eyes school, including additional tips on how to clean my dog’s teeth, ears, and general grooming.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life?   “It is great to be able to go more places and feel more freedom.  The home where we will soon live in Florida is in a gated community with sidewalks, walking trails, and a pond, and there is a Walmart across the street.  Ollie and I flew to Maine from the Training School, and he traveled well on the plane.  For local trips, we’ll travel by Lift, Uber, public, or Paratransit.  Ollie is good at targeting;  like ‘to the curb’, ‘landmark’, and ‘button touch’.  We will name those places for him at the new home.”

Were there any training highlights? “Our instructor Michelle was great, and so was Kat. I was uncomfortable doing the night walk in White Plains, and Michelle knew I wasn’t feeling well.  She was supportive and very helpful, and I did just fine. We also went to Beacon, and there was a lot of construction work going on there.  At one point, a man bent down to touch Ollie, and Michelle requested he not do that.  Everywhere we go there are comments of ‘Oh, he’s such a handsome boy.’,  or ‘Oh, he’s so cute.’, so I got the sign for the harness that says Guide dog, please do not talk to the dog.  I’m glad I went to the training school to get Ollie.”

Meet Guide Dog Ollie

DOB:  8/16/2021
Litter ID: S-2OO21
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Essence
Stud: Enrico
Littermates: Orzo, Ocean, Oasis, Onslo, Ohana, Opus
Region:  Cattaraugus, Fingerlakes
Regional Puppy Instructor: Cassie Houghton
Puppy Raiser:  Lee & Eric Nagell, Doubet Family
Facebook: Cattaraugus Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Fingerlakes Puppy Raisers

Special Recognition: Ollie was special named and sponsored from birth to career, by a family who wishes to remain anonymous, but shared this message: “We really appreciate all the people who have helped ollie on his way, the volunteers from start to finish, puppy raisers, and staff. Congratulations Sheila and Ollie!”

From the Puppy Raiser…

Ollie was only with us for 7 months, but he truly made an impact in our lives. He was always full of love and butt wiggles, rarely sitting still for more than a few minutes. When he did sit still, it was to cuddle with his humans or one of the many dogs at our house. Ollie never ceased to make us smile by being his big goofy and loveable self. He was always good at making people feel better and absolutely amazing with kids whenever he came to work at the school. We know that Ollie is going to be an amazing Guide Dog to his new person and can’t wait to see where life takes him next. We are so proud at how far he’s come! ~ the Doubet Family

Photos of the Team…