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Stephanie and Pepper

Thank you to our generous May Graduates Sponsor…

“The University of Rhode Island Puppy Raisers Club wishes the graduate teams good luck in their new partnerships!”

Meet Home Training Graduate Stephanie

Graduate Stephanie and guide dog PepperGraduate Team: Stephanie and Pepper
About the Team:  Pepper, a female yellow Lab, is Stephanie’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Mumford, Tennessee
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Susan Kroha

Stephanie, upon receiving her first guide dog, looks forward to attending school in Little Rock, Arkansas, to obtain certification as an assistive technology instructor for those with visual impairments. Stephanie enjoys watching Netflix and Hulu, listening to music or playing online games, and loves eating out in restaurants. When she was in high school, she was part of the school choir and still enjoys singing, but now does so for her own enjoyment. Stephanie likes being outside and taking walks, which she says is definitely a different experience, now that she has her beautiful guide dog, Pepper.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Pepper is a fun-loving dog, interesting and fun to be around. She is very playful, but she’s a hard worker. She’s affectionate and happy; a very sweet girl. She makes me smile every day.  She’s a joy in my life.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “Throughout the years, I always wanted a guide dog. Growing up I’ve seen staff members at my schools with guides, like my Braille teacher, who got her dog from this school. I asked my mobility instructor at the time, if he could help me get a guide dog. I have some challenges with my mobility, and he picked the school he thought was best for me and helped me apply to the Specialized Training Program. My mobility instructor back home has helped me over the years on my route, so a lot of staff members and instructors were involved in getting me a guide dog. It’s been a goal of mine since I was little.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s way different from using the cane. It’s very freeing. It feels like you’re flying when you walk. You’re not hitting things with your cane or worrying about running into things.  Instead of holding onto family members, or them having to tell me which direction to go in, I’m more independent.”

Were there any training highlights? “The first time I did my route with her, we were coming back home and even though she’d never done the route before, she knew exactly which driveway was mine.  It really shocked me – I thought, how did she know?!  I knew right then; she is a very smart girl.”

Meet Guide Dog Pepper

Pepper is truly one of the most fantastic dogs you will ever meet- everyone instantly falls in love with her and her precious looks. Pepper thought she was a lap dog,  sitting on your lap while kissing and snuggling with you on the floor. Pepper was raised on the Ithaca College campus and was the most famous occupational therapy “student.” She loved working in the pediatric occupational therapy clinic with me, making all my clients, colleagues, peers, and professors smile and laugh. She is unbelievably smart, snuggly, and confident. She never fails to keep you on your toes and to make life exciting. She is constantly demanding to be challenged and pushed; I’ll never forget when she learned how to open her crate to let herself out to play! Pepper’s transformation has been unmatched- I could not be prouder of her progress and her determination. I cannot wait to see what Pepper’s future holds for her and her new handler!

Morgan Starkweather, Puppy Raiser of Pepper

Enjoy these photos of the team…