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Stephanie and Cider

Thank you to our generous April Graduate Sponsor…

In memory of my wife, Barbara Woods, who loved dogs and Guiding Eyes. Through our entire marriage, we have had dogs, usually two at a time, and enjoyed them! Sponsoring the graduating class is a perfect way to honor her memory.

– Richard Woods

Meet Graduate Stephanie

Graduate Stephanie and black Lab guide CiderGraduate Team:  Stephanie and Cider
About the Team: Cider a female black Lab, is Stephanie’s 4th guide dog
Hometown:  Bozeman, Montana
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Judith DeMaria
April On-Campus Training

Stephanie has worked with guide dogs from Guiding Eyes for the past 30 years. Cider is Stephanie’s fourth guide. She got her first guide dog while still in college at the University of Illinois, completing her degree in Colonial History, followed by a degree in Massage Therapy. Stephanie is married, lives in a quiet suburb, and has two daughters. She enjoys attending school orchestra concerts where one daughter plays cello and the other plays viola. Stephanie’s hobbies include ballroom dancing, playing the piano, tandem bicycling, cooking, reading, and walking with her guide. When the family visits their vacation cabin on a lake, one of her joys is tandem kayaking. She looks forward to taking Cider too.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Cider, in harness, is a rock star.  She is smart and serious when she works.  She learns things quickly and is very attentive and proud when she does things right. She gives me confidence and freedom. When not in harness, she is very affectionate and loves to bring her tug toys to my daughters to play. Part of our back yard is fenced in and Cider and our other dog, Roan, (a Labrador/Golden mix), love to run together.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I was using a cane for the first three years I was blind. I was in college then and very self-conscious and not engaging. I was holed up in my room and needed something to get me out of my shell. It was my Orientation and Mobility Instructor who told me about Guiding Eyes and suggested I go there for a guide dog. I did. Elana was my first guide.  Having my four guide dogs has given me the confidence to get outside, to travel, and not worry so much about the unknowns.  When I married, my Guiding Eyes dog was Teddy, who was large, fast, and helped me keep up with my husband when we were walking.  When we had our children, my guide was Glimmer, who was smaller, and could walk at a slower pace, which was great for young children. Glimmer was also playful and interacted well with the girls.  Cider is strong and fast. Each dog has been exactly what I needed at that stage in my life.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Without a guide dog, my world is limited to the arc of my cane.  Getting lost is easy and it’s much more difficult to find assistance. Having a guide dog improved my self-confidence, both at home and with my mobility when away from home.  If I get lost, or take a wrong turn, Cider can help get me to someone.  In a neighborhood, I can go up a driveway and she will take me to a door. I can trust her instincts about people and know when she is not comfortable with someone.  These guides have let me know when something is not right.  I’ve had wonderful dogs.”

Were there any training highlights?  “Judith and Michelle are great trainers and they made being away from home fun. They worked well as a team, and though they had an instinct about how the students would be matched to their dogs, they carefully watched to confirm those decisions. They worked with recipients to convey the need for responsibility and accountability for the care of our new dogs. There were training classes as well as fun times, like an off-road hike. We walked the sidewalks in Yorktown, Mt. Kisco, and White Plains, including curb practice and experiences tailored to the kinds of places we would be facing back home – like escalators, grocery stores, listening for traffic flow, and trusting the dog to make the final decision to proceed or wait. We went on excursions to White Plains, to a place where we had scones and clotted cream, and to a local theater for a movie. I can travel to more places, because there is a sense of security in my much bigger world.”

Meet Guide Dog Cider

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