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American Hero Dog: Frances

When life gets ruff, dogs can lend a loving paw to help guide us through the turmoil. Holly, a mother living on Staten Island, learned just how powerful the love of a dog can be, firsthand.

Two weeks before her 19th birthday, Holly was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a fighter, and she won that battle. Thirteen years later, Holly lost her eyesight due to complications from that bout with breast cancer and was declared legally blind. As a working mother of two, Holly had no choice but to adapt.

Through a wonderful charity, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Holly received Frances, a trained guide dog. According to Holly, Frances is patient, loving and friendly with her and her two children, making the pup a perfect fit for their home. Frances is so attentive to their needs and will even wake Holly up when one of her kids has a nightmare.

Frances has transformed Holly’s life, keeping her safe and empowering her to keep a normal routine. Holly is an adjunct professor of psychology and social development at the Metropolitan College of New York. After losing her eyesight, she faced numerous obstacles navigating the commute from Staten Island to Manhattan. Frances enables her to tackle the commute every day and succeed in her job as a professor.

After having her life changed by Frances, Holly established the Visually Impaired Education Program. Through this program, she shares her story and educates children about guide dogs. Her aim is to teach kids about the reality of living with a disability so they can grow up to be advocates for others.

In 2018, Frances was honored as our American Humane Guide/Hearing Hero Dog. The search is underway for this year’s top dog. To learn more, visit

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