Guide Dogs of America Grads Are On The Go

When students arrive at GDA, it is with the goal of achieving greater independence, mobility and freedom. Having the assistance and companionship of a guide dog certainly makes the day-to-day and routine activities easier. But for guide dog teams, exploring beyond their typical routes or boundaries that they’ve established for themselves can be an adventure and give the guide dog user a greater sense of wanting to explore further. Sometimes it’s a neighboring city or state; or it might be a destination across the country or on an ocean cruise with multiple ports of call; or the call of the wild and the great outdoors. No matter how near or far, our guide dog teams are out and about and enjoying life.

We asked our graduates to share with us some of their recent travels and the memories that they caught in photos. On this page and inside this newsletter you will read in our graduates’ words and see in their photos, the ways in which many of them showed us they are living life to the fullest with their guide dog by their side.

Katrina Stanley and Pali at San Diego Beach

“Pali and I travelled to San Diego this last August. It was our first trip together on our own. One of the days we went to the beach. I have never taken a guide dog to the beach before and it was interesting seeing her reaction. I really feel like we bonded more during the trip and look forward to many more.” –Katrina Stanley

“My guide dog Otto and I attended a celebration recognizing me for my 10 years of service with Southwest Airlines. The event was held at Gilley’s in Dallas, Texas. In addition to his harness, Otto donned a faux tux (complete with French cuffs on his paws) to the event.” —Don Wilson

“Coby and I traveled with friends to the Grand Canyon. Our tour bus broke down and we ended up staying a few hours longer than we had planned and we had a great time exploring the area.” —Mark Hanohano

“My guide dog Sherpa and I take frequent hikes in the beautiful mountains where I live in Summit County Colorado.” —Elaine Cowger

Elaine Cowger and Sherpa Cari’s dog Dodger in a down/stay with Pluto

“Dodger and I recently took a 14 night “Disney cruise” through the Panama Canal. It was fun traveling with all of the characters on the ship and visiting ports like Cozumel, Cartagena Colombia, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. We even demonstrated obedience training, when I put both Dodger and Pluto in a ‘down/stay.’” —Cari Shields

“Escort and I traveled to one of my favorite places, Punta De Mita Mexico. We explored the ancient fishing village and went sailing in nearby Puerto Vallarta. Escort ’s guide work kept me safe navigating cobblestone and dirt roads while passing many wild chickens and dogs. It was a great bonding vacation” —Adam Lawrence

Donna Matthews and Sadie

“My husband Mel and I have traveled a lot with Sadie in the four years we have had her. One of my favorites was a two-week trip to visit many of the historical locations around Virginia including Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, which we found fascinating.” —Donna Reed Matthews

“On our summer vacation we traveled to New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. In New York we visited the 9/11 memorial and One World Trade Center, Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty and many more. We explored the Independence Hall complex and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Our trip ended in Washington D.C. where we visited our nation’s Capital and the memorials. Obi traveled on planes, trains, car and bus and by boat. He was a true champion the entire trip.” —Chris Sellman

Interested in applying for a guide dog?

Learn more about the application process and contact GDA Manager of Admissions and Graduates Services Sara Ormenyi at (818) 833-6428 or