Blind Huntsville musician bereaved of guide dog welcomes new companion

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - In December WHNT News 19 introduced you to Nancy Pendegraph; a blind Huntsville woman who lost her right-hand dog when a contracted meter reader inadvertently left a backyard gate open. Charlie escaped, was run over and killed shortly after on busy Bob Wallace Avenue.

Nancy has quite a history with the Black Lab breed. When one prized pet would reach retirement age, she’d bring another on and has gone with no interruptions in guide dogs for 21 years. She had spent the last 5 years with her beloved Charlie.

Nancy's son, Rowland, is blind as well. Having Henley, his own guide dog, Rowland knew his mother's time without Charlie and without another guide dog would be tough.

“It was such a shock. I mean, who knew? My puppy was in his prime, about 6-years-old and healthy. And then just — gone,” Nancy said.

She told us in December what hurts most was fear of the unknown. She never imagined she would need a plan to find a new canine; she also knew the process may take months.

Turns out, it took just under 3 months for Nancy to apply for and locate the perfect match for her.

Monday, after 2 intense weeks of academy training with the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind on Long Island, Nancy welcomed home her new pup.

"The school was really wonderful about trying to get me in."

Camry is a beautiful 18-month-old Lab who just graduated guide dog academy with the highest of marks.

"And she is a wonderful little girl. A wonderful little guide and a fun puppy."

With only 2 weeks together it will take some time for everyone to adjust. "It just does," Nancy says. In the meantime, Pendegraph wants to thank all the friends, family and complete strangers for all the support.

"It has meant more than you could ever know unless you had similar circumstances. It was just dear how people just were there for me and I really appreciate it so much."

Note: After Charlie's death, many people asked if they could donate to help Ms. Pendegraph get a new dog. The Long Island-based Guide Dog Foundation, where she was paired with both Charlie and Camry, is a non-profit organization that matches guide dogs to people at no cost. Information at Guidedog.org, 800-548-4337.