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William and Quidditch

Meet Graduate William

William has arm around neck of black Lab guide dog Quidditch as they sit for their team portraitGraduate Team: William Smith & Quidditch
About the Team: Quidditch, a male black Lab, is Bill’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Location: Schenectady, New York
Training: March 2024 On-Campus

Bill was born in Lexington, Kentucky, but grew up in the Utica, NY area. Currently, he resides in Schenectady, NY, which is just a stone’s throw away from his hometown, in upstate New York. He had served in the National Guard from 1983 to 1987 and was based in Fort Dix and Fort Drum. In 1986, while serving in the military, he was diagnosed with progressive glaucoma. After completing his military service, he spent twenty-three years working as a butcher. Due to his declining vision and safety concerns, he retired about a decade ago. He can only see light from his right eye, while his left eye has limited vision like looking through a straw. He is married to his wife, Lisa, a special education teacher’s assistant, and has a daughter and 4 stepdaughters, two of them teenagers living at home. Bill is an avid runner who trains for races at various distances, including both 5K and 15K runs. With Ed, his previous guide dog from Guiding Eyes, he was half of the first guide dog team to run the Boilermaker 5K, as well as participating in an Ironman competition in Utica. Bill will be participating in a 5K race called the “Work Force Challenge” in Albany with his new guide dog, Quidditch in May 2024. The race is sponsored by the Commission for the Blind. Guide dog Ed is now retired but remains a part of the family, getting along great with Quidditch, with whom he’s become good friends.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Quidditch is a very active, outgoing dog. He works at a very fast pace which complements my needs. His command training is spot on and right on the money. Guiding Eyes made a perfect match for me and my running, as Quidditch loves to run.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Simple, I picked Guiding Eyes because of their reputation, past experience, and the one-on-one training provided on campus.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I have more freedom and get around quicker because I don’t have to focus on a cane, and I don’t have to focus on obstacles as I had previously. I also get more attention having a guide dog and I feel much safer. I am a recovering alcoholic, with nine years of sobriety. I want to come full circle. Going forward I want to work in the rehabilitation center where I got sober. I plan to go back to school and get training in becoming a peer counselor for recovering alcoholics. I have made some public speaking appearances at local schools to talk about blindness, guide dogs, and, of course, Guiding Eyes.”

Were there any training highlights “Going to New York City on the train and training on subway platforms gave me the greatest trust in Quidditch. It enabled me to put all my trust in a guide dog, although it was initially very scary for me. On a different note, the food served on campus was phenomenal. Chef Rob and the entire staff were great. There were just six students in my class, including myself, so we got a lot of personalized attention. I would also like to mention that Guiding Eyes CEO, Thomas Panek, got me involved with running when I was on campus the first time. He was inspirational because he shared that he had run the New York City Marathon.”

Meet Guide Dog Quidditch

DOB:  3/18/2022
Litter ID: 8Q22
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Helga
Stud: Odin
Littermates: Quigley, Quantum, Quaker, Quebec, Quill, Quentin, Carmen, Quattro, Queso
Region:  Eastern MA, Bay
Regional Puppy Instructor: Lisa Bumbalo, Cindy Tait
Puppy Raiser:  Lynn Stas, Ashlyn M. Winkler-Catlin, Tom Pagano
Facebook: Eastern Mass Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Bay Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Living up to his name, Quidditch is really a magical pup! With his massive ears and silly personality, he put a spell on us from day one. Growing up with two canine siblings, “Mr. Witch” learned to play hard and loved family adventures like rock climbing, hiking, yoga, and camping. We’re very proud, and not surprised, that our sporty guy became a running guide. While on puppy program, Quidditch spent his weekdays snoozing through business meetings, but went out on the town(s) on weekends. He took field trips to the Annapolis waterfront, hung out at Ravens tailgates and breweries in Baltimore, toured the DC monuments, and even rode the train into NYC to sightsee at Times Square and the Met. We will never forget his playful personality or how he would stick out his tongue in his sleep. Best wishes to the team! We love you, Quidditch – Always. ~ Ashlyn Pagano 

Photos of the Team…