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Wallezka and Sloan

Meet March Residential Graduate Walle

Sloan checks in with Wallezka before heading out for more trainingGraduate Team:  Wallezka “Walle” and Sloan
About the Team:  Sloan, a male yellow Lab, is Walle’s 1st Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Hackensack, New Jersey
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Miranda Beckmann (March Residential Class)

Walle works as the Office Manager of a private psychiatric practice and is the mother of a beautiful daughter, who she lovingly says, “is 3 going on 30”.  She loves to exercise, working out at the gym or swimming, and she especially loves her daily runs. Walle is a self-described food fanatic, social media creator and adventurist who loves to try new things. She is a staunch accessibility advocate, an activity she feels very good about.  Walle is currently in the midst of creating a women’s clothing business, in support of the disabled community, with items made only by disabled individuals, with accessible labels utilizing braille and large print. She is looking towards the beauty market as well, where she points out there is a lack of accessibility and blind women deserve to do their makeup and feel beautiful, just as those in the sighted world do.

How would you describe your guide dog?   “Sloan is a sweet, loving, gentle boy, with the heart of a marshmallow. He is a large dog, but so cuddly. He has brought to my life such a joy. He loves working and will wait as I harness him up, then get so excited to work.  When working, he stares back at me for confirmation of what we’re doing and when we return, he’s excited again as if thrilled for what he just accomplished.  He has leveled my life out in a short amount of time.  He’s just amazing.” 

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?   “When I was originally looking into getting a guide dog, I considered Guiding Eyes because I liked the training based on positive reinforcement. Guiding Eyes was my first choice, but I accepted a dog offered from another school that, ultimately, didn’t work out.  When I received the call from Guiding Eyes to join the modified residential class, I was excited and felt all the puzzle pieces fitting together perfectly. This experience was the best ever. I knew this was where I needed to be; the support from everyone here was so great and the class was an amazing success.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “Ever since Sloan entered it, my life has changed 100% for the better. Not only because of his attitude and demeanor, but the sense of independence has enabled me to feel much more powerful. My self-esteem has gradually skyrocketed. With him, I let my guard down; I let myself love him for the amazing worker that he is and the amazing dog that he is. He has changed my life and brought me something I never had before. I’m able to feel safe and secure in my decisions and the ability to go outside my door and know it’s going to be Ok.  I know he’s always there taking care of me. That has impacted my life in a major way.”

Were there any training highlights? “The biggest training highlight was that he would stop at the curb after crossing the street. It sounds like such a small thing, but it’s important if you can’t always identify when you reach the other side! He even signals me when we come up to a driveway that’s flush with the sidewalk, which is so amazing! I’m not able to distinguish that change, but he can. Also, the behavior of this dog… he has the best house manners!  He’s beyond amazing.”


Meet Guide Dog Sloan

Sloan was always a confident, calm puppy, who never hesitated in new experiences and was always attentive when we were out. Although he was the first dog I ever raised for Guiding Eyes, it was obvious to me from day one that he truly had a working mindset! My favorite memory was flying from Cleveland, OH to South Carolina and back for a work trip. It was my first time flying with a Guiding Eyes dog and, I’ll admit, I was very nervous about how it would go! The flights were long, and we had a layover in Atlanta, but he handled all of the flights and airports like a seasoned pro. I was so impressed and knew after that trip he was ready to head into training. We loved hiking and every hike was an adventure – he lovesd swimming, and sniffing and exploring the trails. He was such a wonderful first guide dog to raise. His easygoing, obedient, but confident personality truly made raising him a pleasure and a breeze. My phone call with Wallezka was one of the happiest moments of my life. I wish them all the best and am so glad she found her partner in him. I couldn’t have asked for him to go to a better handler. Thank you, Guiding Eyes, for providing the opportunity for us to connect.

Maggie Certo, Puppy Raiser of Sloan

Enjoy these photos of the team and Sloan as a Pup on Program

Meet our other recent guide dog team graduates. Click here!

Friends and Family:  Watch this video to learn more about  Working with a Guide Dog Team.