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Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Graduates Begin the New Year with New Guide Dogs After Three Weeks of Individualized Training
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY; – This weekend, Guiding Eyes for the Blind celebrated its first class of guide dog teams in 2019. Each graduate received customized training and was paired with an exceptionally trained guide dog, provided to them at no cost by the non-profit organization.

Once home, each team will enter an important stage in their work together, as they deepen their relationships, establish daily routines, and learn new routes and destinations. The relationship between each guide dog and handler is unique, and Guiding Eyes provides helpful guidelines for members of the community to welcome them home and allow them to work safely. This includes, importantly, not distracting and never feeding or petting a working guide dog.

Learn more about the graduates of the January 2019 class in the school’s Residential Training program at Guiding Eyes headquarters in Yorktown Heights below:

  • Allyson & Irving (Groton, CT) - Ally is an independent and determined high school sophomore, looking forward to college in the future. She participates in high school cheerleading and Irving will attend practice with her! She enjoys long walks on the track and going to the mall with friends.

  • Anthony “Skippy” & Howie (St. Augustine, FL) - Skippy is a college sophomore and is excited to introduce his new guide, Howie to his two dogs back home. Since 2010, he has been an avid Goalball player, (a team sport designed specifically for athletes with vision impairment), and he plans to travel to multiple adult league tournaments. Skippy is also looking forward to tackling new challenges with Howie, like amusement parks - maybe even Disney!

  • Brian & Farley (Toronto, Canada) - Brian returned to Guiding Eyes to partner-up with his 3rd guide dog, Farley, a black Lab with a zest for life. He works at a bank and looks forward to introducing Farley to his 12-year-old son, who is extremely excited to welcome another dog into the family.

  • Clayton & Eddie (Canandaigua, NY) - Clayton is a Varsity Assistant Wrestling Coach in his local school district. He is determined to not let his visual impairment get in the way of his active lifestyle, which includes workouts at the gym, volunteering at fitness classes, walking, running or hiking near the beautiful waterfalls in his area.

  • Joshua & Jed (Alba, TX) - Joshua is a college student majoring in business management. He attended a rehabilitation center for the blind to learn the skills necessary to successfully attend college and looks forward to a safer experience on campus with Jed.

  • Katie & Rizzo (Grand Haven, MI) - Katie is a Physical Therapist and Clinic Manager of an Outpatient Orthopedic Clinic in Michigan. She is a long-time member of the USA Adaptive Waterski team, where she competes in slalom, trick, and jump. The team travels both nationally and internationally and Katie trains not only in the summer, but in the off-season as well. Prior to water-skiing, Katie was a member of the USA Adaptive Alpine Skiing team. She has always loved sports and is looking forward to returning home with Rizzo and running together.

  • Lori & Ivan (Salisbury, MD) - Lori, a home health aide, returned to Guiding Eyes for her second guide dog. She found her match in Ivan, a spunky male black Lab with a larger-than-life personality. Lori looks forward to once again enjoying the independence and confidence of working with a guide dog.

  • Michael & Ian (Anaheim, CA) - Mike is retired from his work at a hospital and shares a home with wife Karen and her guide dog. They enjoy daily walks, dining at local restaurants and taking classes at the Braille Institute together. He enjoys the speed and ease of travel a guide dog provides and looks forward to “endless possibilities” with Ian.

  • Patsy & Newman (Richardson, TX) - Patsy loves to spend time with people and is always up for the next fun activity. Originally from Arizona, she currently splits her time between Texas and Washington. Patsy is working on opening a non-profit organization that would advocate for the visually impaired community and help them find and utilize the resources available to them.

  • Rachael & Dudley (Cleveland, OH) - Rachael loves cooking and baking, as well as spending time with her friends and her wonderful family. She has nieces and nephews that she travels to see in Michigan and loves to spend time with. She is really looking forward to enjoying the nature in her area when she returns home with Dudley and has some amazing parks in mind she knows he would love to explore.

  • Rachelle & Puma  (Amsterdam, NY) - Rachelle is a passionate advocate for Guiding Eyes, where she received her first guide dog Mandy in 1990. She went on to organize a fundraiser for the organization. An avid musician, Rachelle works full-time as a director of contemporary music at a church and as a private music instructor and performs music at local assisted living facilities and hospitals. She has played the piano with Puma settled at her feet and looks forward to trying out the guitar with him.

“What better way to start the New Year than with a new companion in a guide dog, " said Thomas Panek, President and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, "I am so proud of these teams and excited to watch them on their journeys together. Congratulations to the graduating class of January 2019!”

About Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Guiding Eyes for the Blind is dedicated to creating and supporting life-changing connections between people and dogs. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides superbly bred and trained dogs to people who are blind or visually impaired. Our dogs are known for their exceptional temperaments and success at helping people gain independence and to expand their horizons of opportunity.


SomersetLady said...

On a recent flight home, I watched a free movie about guide dogs. It was a documentary called "Pick of the Litter". The movie started at the puppies' birth, to when they are finally placed with a visually impaired person. I always knew these dogs were well trained, but in reality, it takes over 15 momths to go through training in all types of situations. They have to even be trained to disobey their guide if he/she is going towards a dangerous situation. They only keep and train the best dogs for their program. (Dogs not suited for their program may be adopted out to other people, or sent to other guide programs, like diabetic sensing dogs.) It was really interestimg.

Anonymous said...

God Bless them all the dogs too who make life better for the people. Ivan is John in Russian. It's pronounced differently then the way Americans say it. In Russian it sounds like Yvonne the woman's names.