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Thomas and Eva

Meet Graduate Thomas

Tommy sits with black Lab guide dog Eva for their graduate portraitGraduate Team:  Thomas Harms & Eva
About the Team:  Eva, a female black Lab, is Thomas’ 1st guide dog
Location:  Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Training: October 2023 On-Campus

Tommy is a self-employed Technical Designer and also works for his family’s business manufacturing filtration products. A lifelong resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Tommy graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, focusing on marine design. Growing up on the east coast of Florida, it is not surprising that Tommy is an avid fisherman. His love of water and fishing carried over into his college career, where he designed a 40’ catamaran fishing boat. He enjoys fishing in the waters of South Florida and Tommy and his family often make the short boat ride to the Bahamas to fish there as well.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “Eva is spunky, loving and fun.  She loves to explore.  Within minutes of being in my home she found the pool! I often say I was born and raised with a snorkel and fins, so Eva and I have our love of the water in common. She has happily joined my family’s pack of black labs; my parents have two and my brother has one.  When Eva is in her harness it is ‘game time’ and she is ready to work and lead. She is always ready to go, and I am learning to trust her lead.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “When I lost my remaining vision in 2020, a guide dog was a natural next step for me.  I love dogs and my family has always had pet dogs. I knew a dog would give me more independence and allow me to socialize more and meet new people. I did my research and learned that Guiding Eyes is a renowned school. From my initial application to on-campus training, Guiding Eyes has met or exceeded my expectations.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Eva is a great reason to get out more!  We practice our skills as a team and  enjoy being outdoors and meeting new people.  Together we are networking in my neighborhood.  I bought my home several years ago, but because of Eva I’m spending more time out walking and have met many neighbors, (and their dogs), for the first time.”

Were there any training highlights? “Training at the Guiding Eyes campus in New York was a wonderful experience.  I cannot say enough about the hospitality, trainers, and staff!  Everyone was kind and informative.  If they did not have an immediate answer to a question, they followed up quickly with a response. One aspect of training that stands out is what I jokingly describe as ‘playing in traffic’. It was not a a game and of course very well controlled. The  trainers drive a van in your direction as part of a traffic simulation exercise.  The guide dog does exactly what you are told they will do to protect you! That was a highlight and really demonstrated Eva’s excellent training and the lengths she will go to keep me safe.”

Meet Guide Dog Eva

DOB:  4/21/2020
Litter ID: 5EE20
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Nell
Stud: Wallace
Littermates: Elvis, Eileen, Elton, Ernie, Emerson, Ellen
Region:  Eastern MA, Maine
Regional Puppy Instructor: Lisa Bumbalo
Puppy Raiser:  The Gall Family, Christina Strubbe
Facebook: Eastern Mass Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Maine Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Eva was not only my first GEB puppy, but my first puppy ever! Because of Eva, I fell in love with puppy raising. I am now raising my third puppy, but Eva will always hold an extra special place in my heart. ~ Cheryl Gall, Puppy Raiser

Eva came to me at seven months, an exuberant, sassy girl who needed some help learning to slow down and take in the world. I loved watching her gain confidence as she grew and her world gradually expanded. Eva became a dog up for anything: trail walks, swimming, playtime with her friends, boat rides, restaurants, coffee shops, the farmers market, and stores of all kinds. We took agility classes, and she thought tunnels were the most fun! In the summer she loved to pick her own raspberries in the back yard and lay down in her kiddie pool to cool off. She became the calmest, sweetest, most patient pup who gave the best cuddles. I am so proud of Eva and hope she enjoys her work as a guide!  ~ Christina Strubbbe, Puppy Raiser

Photos of the Team…