Emily is a graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho, where she earned a bachelors degree in biology. Emily is also a certified massage therapist, but feels she currently has the best job, as a stay-at-home mom to her 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. Emily’s vision loss is due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease that also affects 3 of her 4 siblings. Earlier this year, her brother Ryan received his guide dog Levi, from Guiding Eyes, as well, and her other brother Derrick is currently waiting for his perfect guide dog match. Brady has become an important member of Emily’s young family, as protector, companion, and playmate.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Brady is 2 ½ years old. He is very close in age to my 2-year-old son so it feels like I have a set of twins at times. And like a toddler he loves to play and cuddle! However, Brady also is patient, kind and enjoys working and is currently fascinated with our first snow fall.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I want to be an active mom and minimize any limitations when it comes to participating in family life. A guide dog facilitates my ability to walk my daughter to school and hike and camp with my family. The winters are dark and snowy where I live. A dog will make it easier to navigate snow piles, especially when we have a whiteout, and walk confidently when it’s dark.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I feel safer and more confident! Brady recently protected me from an automatic door that was malfunctioning and began closing on me and my kids. He directed me to back up and kept us out of harm’s way. Brady has also brought a lot of love and affection into our home. My children adore him, and he has become another playmate for them. My son is currently undergoing intense chemotherapy for leukemia and this illness, with his fragile immune system, has been very isolating for our whole family. Brady has been a joyful, bright spot.”
Were there any training highlights? “Participating in the Home Training program was necessary and extremely helpful. Chrissy was fantastic and exactly the trainer and support I needed during this difficult time. I’m spending a lot of time at the children’s hospital with my son, and sadly, I had also recently experienced the miscarriage of my baby boy. Chrissy was incredibly flexible and understanding when she brought Brady to the children’s hospital the first day and was so helpful in learning my night routes. My kids adored her and were thrilled to see her every day. My husband loves playing disc golf and Chrissy taught me how to teach Brady to find my disc, so I could play this outdoor activity with my family again. So amazing! Recently in a meeting with my son’s doctor, it wasn’t until the end that the doctor realized Brady was in the room! Brady handles his hospital visits very professionally and allows my time there to be focused. He is a perfect example and advocate for guide dogs to be allowed in all environments. Brady is welcomed, capable and appropriate in such a sensitive setting. He brings my son joy while he is receiving his weekly chemotherapy and has been a huge blessing in guiding me around the hospital.”
Brady is gentle, loving, and goofy, and fit right into our family quickly. Through 2020, we all learned to navigate a new normal which was a struggle at times. Socialization opportunities quickly waned, and we became each other’s “person”. Brady knew just where his person was at any given time; just how many times can you play hide and seek in the home over the year do you ask? We relied heavily on outdoor activities, and he really enjoyed hiking with us. There is so much of the world to explore out in the woods, and we encountered so many people enjoying that world with us. We’re so happy to have had the opportunity to know and love him.
Jim and Janet Strait, Puppy Raisers of Brady
Congratulations Brady! You have achieved so many great things. Working as a guide dog always seemed like the most natural thing, whenever you put on that vest and walked perfectly through a crowd, staying close and checking in. Yet despite being Superdog out there in the world, at home you were just my goofy, loving, and patient boy. And now you get to go on and shine in someone else’s life. Good luck and have fun Brady, I love you. Brady always stayed completely level-headed and unfazed by even the busiest, novel situations. Even on a crowded NYC subway train he didn’t bat an eye. Brady always amazed me by his adaptability and patience. He taught me more than I taught him and I will always be grateful for this experience.
Fayme Cai, Puppy Raiser of Brady