Graduates share first walk with their guide dogs!
Class #380 graduated on October 20, 2013. We are proud to introduce the graduates, from left: Paul Dang and Ticklish; Rae Howell and Kramer; Mindi Murray and Waverly; Arnetta Bradford and Tessa; Erin Magoon and Nels; Edwin Valle and Cassia; Richard Fiel and Winzer; Deedee Mann and Sally; Patricia Rasmussen and Nara; and Jose Rodriquez and Vivi. Class #380 instructors from left: trainer Sean Chiles, trainer Melinda Romero, apprentice trainer Tiffany McKillop, and trainer Nick Terrones.
Class #380 also included in-home graduates Bill Harrison and guide dog Whitely; Debbie Kalfinan and guide dog Dutch; Gabby Berry and guide dog Willa; and Shari Main and guide dog Legacy.
The Class #380 graduates who trained at Guide Dogs of America recently shared their experiences of walking with their new guide dogs in harness for the first time.
Erin Magoon (Springfield, Missouri) and guide dog Nels
“It was very exciting to hold on to the harness handle again. It felt very different from my last dog, as this was a new dog to me. I cried happy tears as the connection with my dog was there immediately. Nels and I are a perfect match! It’s wonderful!”
Patty Rasmussen (Westminster, California) and guide dog Nara
“I was really nervous, but it felt so good to get rid of my cane and work with a dog again! It was a different pace and pull than what I was used to, but I’m excited to work with and learn from my new partner.”
Arnetta Bradford (Starkville, Mississippi) and guide dog Tessa
“For the first time, I felt like I didn’t have to worry about bumping into anything! It was so smooth and crossing the street was so much easier. I could walk and look up rather than down. I felt free and independent. I loved it!”
Mindi Murray (Prescott Valley, Arizona) and guide dog Waverly
“It felt awesome! I was surprised it was so easy, and so loved that I could walk with my head held high, not worrying about obstacles. I got to enjoy the beauty of the day. What an incredible gift!”
Richard Fiel (Rancho Cucamonga, California) and guide dog Windsor
“Freedom is the best way to describe the feeling. It was really unique and fun at the same time. I felt like I was totally on my own, without any worries about obstacles being in my way. I just walked normally and it was fun!”
Jose Rodriquez (Chino, California) and guide dog Vivi
“At first it was uncomfortable and scared – I had been using a cane for 20 years. I was looking forward to the new challenges and fears to overcome. I knew everything was going to be okay.”
Paul Dang (Pasadena, California) and guide dog Ticklish
“After a few months of not having a guide dog, I felt like I was back to who I am, who I want to be. There is no need to hold onto anyone any longer. Ticklish walked differently than what I was used to, but we adjusted to one another’s pace right away. My freedom is back!”
Dee Dee Mann (Pasadena, California) and guide dog Sally
“It was very different from what I was used to with my last guide dog. It’s always interesting to learn a new challenge, and I’m up for it! As we get to know one another and learn together, I know it will all come into place.”
Edwin Valle (Hollywood, California) and guide dog Cassia
“To walk with my head up and my shoulders straight was great. I don’t have to be afraid of what’s in front of me any longer. I felt free, confident, and independent. I was walking without anyone telling me where to go – I just walked with Cassia. It felt really good.”
Rae Howell (Selma, Alabama) and guide dog Kramer
“It was scary, as Kramer was a bit faster than my last dog, but it was fun. We got into a comfortable pace and into a good rhythm right away. I could tell he was an awesome dog. A great match!”
Bill Harrison and guide dog Whitely
Debbie Kalfinan and guide dog Dutch
Gabby Berry and guide dog Willa
Shari Main and guide dog Legacy