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Kathryn and Icarus

Thank you to our generous April Graduates Sponsor…

In memory of my wife, Barbara Woods, who loved dogs and Guiding Eyes. Through our entire marriage, we have had dogs, usually two at a time, and enjoyed them! Sponsoring the graduating class is a perfect way to honor her memory.

– Richard Woods

Meet Home Training Graduate Kathryn

Kate and Icarus happily pose together during a training sessionGraduate Team:  Kathryn and Icarus
About the Team:  Icarus, a male yellow Lab, is Kate’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Niskayuna, New York
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Andrea Martine

Kate returns to Guiding Eyes through the Specialized Training Program as a home training, for her second guide dog, Icarus. She regularly attends a program for working on independent living and vocational skills, as well as community volunteer opportunities. Kate loves fitness walking, whether on local bike paths and rail trails, or at the track at the gym. She also enjoys swimming at the gym, although her favorite place to take a swim with her dog is in the Great Sacandaga Lake, where the family has a small cabin in the Adirondack Mountains. Kate looks forward to returning to her bowling team for the blind and resuming community volunteer activities, like delivering food to churches to distribute to those in need, or books to schools to share with their students. One thing is clear, she’ll enjoy the support of a loving family and Icarus by her side, wherever she goes and whatever activities she pursues. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Icarus is very friendly – his tail is always wagging! He likes hanging out chewing on his toys, but he’s happy to go to work; when the harness comes out, he’s ready. We bonded very quickly. He knew right away I was his person, and he likes to follow me upstairs and back down again. He has a very sweet little personality and made friends with my retired guide Payton and our pet golden retriever.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I wanted a guide dog, so I’d have more independence and gain more confidence. I wanted to form a companionship with a dog and have trust in him.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “When I didn’t have a dog, I had to rely on everybody, and I didn’t really like bugging them, but that was the only way I could get around. But now, having Icarus, it makes me feel more freedom, because if I give him directions and clear commands, he’ll do the right thing. It’s given me more confidence than I’ve ever had before. My parents have said I am definitely more confident when I have a guide dog.”

Were there any training highlights? “I have walking routes around the neighborhood and the second time we returned, he automatically knew where my house was, and which driveway was mine. It blew my mind! There are a lot of houses and we came back on the opposite side of the street. We worked on going safely around storm drains and parked cars, so I don’t walk into them. My instructor Andrea was wonderful to me. She was very patient, taught me a lot of new things and refreshers, like leash cues and keeping my arm relaxed. She even helped us with the integration of Icarus into a household with two other dogs. We greatly appreciated all her help. The funniest thing that happened, was Andrea taught me if I talk ‘happy talk’ to Icarus while we walk, it makes him happy.  His tail starts wagging and he goes into a trot; it’s as if his feet want to lift off the ground.”

Meet Guide Dog Icarus

Icarus…our first puppy raise! If I had to sum up your journey, I would say “perseverance”! You were quite the pup, keeping us on our toes. Having three young kids at home we “persevered” a ton on ignoring stuffed animals and socks and learning good house manners. Perseverance in helping you through your fears of hand dryers and metro gates and all the challenges we have faced together. You paraded through IFT like a champ and persevered through specialized guide training throughout a pandemic. You made it “Icky”, and we are so proud of you and overjoyed! I think you have earned a PhD!  You have excelled in every way! The one thing that stands out as your greatest strength was your calm confidence and ease through the most crowded and busiest places. You have taught us so much and made us better raisers. We love you and are excited that you will continue your journey as a working guide.

Joy Yang and Family, Puppy Raisers for Icarus

Enjoy these photos of the team and Icarus as a pup on program…