Thought Wheel

Ann Chiappetta

Guiding Eyes Graduate Council 2014

| Filed under Guide dogs writing

Verona and I  on a bench outside

Verona and I on a bench outside

2014 Graduate Council

2014 Graduate Council – group shot


Graduate Council Retreat 2014


It is with a bitter sweet heart that I write this post. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t mope around over the fact that I have cycled off the Guiding Eyes Graduate Council. I’ve done my term and stepping down to allow others to benefit from a position in the council isn’t what I’m sad about. I’m sad because the song is over and the dance hall has turned up the lights and I’ve got to return to the tasks I had put aside while working on the council. It’s always sad and a bit disjointed when change occurs, when the routine and expectations diverge. I’ll be working with Guiding Eyes, just in another capacity – the path ahead is still full of wonderful and enriching opportunities, for sure.


But before I do that, I want to say that the folks, who were chosen to serve on the Graduate Council, or the GC, are all talented, dedicated and willing to promote our School, Canine Development Center, our programs, and our splendid dogs and the people who provide everything for them so we can live and work more independently. I’ve met such caring, loving, and genuine people in the council and at Guiding Eyes. It is a community, an extended family, a safe and gratifying place to come to and I can’t say enough about it.


Okay, so what, exactly, did the GC teach me? Or, more aptly, what did I take away from the three years I served?  I learned I am an effective leader, I can stand tall, tell my story and that it matters to others. I learned that my affection for the human canine bond runs deep, as deep as the love I hold for my husband and children. I learned that I can go anywhere I choose because of the enhanced mobility provided by my dog guide.


The GC gave me the opportunity to spread my wings and explore what I feel most passionate about; moving on also means  moving onto other roles that will assist the efforts of Guiding Eyes and the overall perception of disability and blindness. Making a difference is motivating, gratifying and meaningful. This is the most vital lesson for me.


Some of the highlights of the two-day retreat were compiled in no order, so here goes nothing:

  • The fried chicken and mac & cheese dinner the first night – OMG!
  • Reuniting with old friends and making new ones.
  • The Assistance Dogs International award given to the Canine Development Center’s guru and resident expert in the canine genome , Jane Russenberger
  • Meeting the two 8 week old black lab puppies, Wendy and Wilkie.
  • Being provided with a chance to interact and provide input and dialogue with the new CEO, Tom Panec.
  • Hanging out with the training staff, getting equipment checks, training and veterinary updates, and take home goodies.
  • Sharing thoughts with Sue Dishart and the development department and knowing our thoughts are heard and that our suggestions are valued and help shape decisions on the branding and promotion of Guiding Eyes.
  • Getting an hour in the community Planet Dog run, thanks to the training staff. What a hoot!I’ll close this post by imparting my most heart felt thanks for being chosen to serve, as well as wishing the new GC officers and members a successful and meaningful term on the Graduate Council.

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