Meet Guide Dog Class 304
Lacey Coward has lived with various vision conditions; however, her biggest frustration is that she was born with a congenital retinal disease that doctors have never been able to properly diagnose. An independent and determined person, Lacey has greatly enjoyed the company of two guide dogs in her life, Beecher and Dinty. Now she’s been paired with a petite and silly yellow Lab, appropriately named Sparkle. “She came at a time that I needed a little sparkle in my life,” Lacey admits. “Sparkle is fantastic!”
Donna Palm lost peripheral vision due to optic nerve drüsen, resulting in calcium growths on the optic nerve. As time goes on, cataracts are affecting her central vision and making everything cloudier. Donna has worked with three previous guide dogs, and now she’s delighted with Clemente, a laid-back and relaxed black Lab. Gentle and easy to work with, Clemente makes her feel at ease. “He’s an old soul in a two-year-old’s body,” she says.
Brad Jones lost his left eye in an accident when he was 6. Then his right eye deteriorated due to macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma, and Brad started missing curbs and experiencing other mishaps. As a lifelong dog lover, he was thrilled to be paired with his first guide dog, Marti, in 2014. Now Marti has retired at home where he’s joined by Brad’s new guide dog, Peyton, a beautiful, social goldador with a shiny ginger coat. Brad still retains about 50% of his sight, and he likes that Peyton is a fast walker.
Susan Weeks was born legally blind. She managed with limited vision until experiencing two detached retinas at the age of 20. That was in 1976, and since then, she has loved four guide dogs. After her last guide dog passed away, Susan felt trapped indoors by his absence and couldn’t wait for her successor dog. Now, freedom has come again in the form of McIntosh, a loving, affectionate black Lab. “She’s really good; I’m really pleased with her,” Susan says. “I think we’re going to make a real good team.”
Robert Miller learned braille in kindergarten, and 48 years ago, he received his first guide dog in high school. Now he’s met his seventh furry best friend and guide, his second from Southeastern Guide Dogs. She’s a black Lab named Mission. “Mission is smart and very well behaved,” Robert says. “I’m looking forward to many years of working with her.” Mission offers playfulness, a fast pace, and what Robert calls dogality—meaning her personality clicks perfectly with his.