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Jacqueline and Kathryn

Meet Graduate Jacqueline

Jaqueline and black Lab guide dog Kathryn  sit for their team portraitGraduate Team:  Jacqueline and Kathryn
About the Team:  Kathryn, a female black Lab, is Jacqueline’s 1st guide dog
Hometown:  Lisbon, Maine
Training:  November 2022 On-Campus

Jackie is retired from the medical field, where she made her career as a nurse, but she continues to contribute by volunteering. She has a master’s degree and was working on her doctorate in nursing, when she suffered a debilitating stroke, resulting not only in physical and cognitive challenges, but the loss of her vision as well. Nevertheless, Jackie is a proud stroke survivor. She gratefully recognizes that with hard work and good care, she has managed to recover much of her physical and cognitive functioning. Her guide dog Kathryn is there with her now for the next steps of that recovery.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Kathryn is lovable and adorable! She is ready to work when she sees her harness.  It is as if she says, ‘Let’s go!’.  Kathryn knows my pace and naturally matches it.  She is also calm and well mannered.  I volunteer in a hospital setting.  Kathryn is very professional in that environment and has impressed everyone.  She patiently sits by my side as I complete paperwork and other tasks.  Kathryn gets very excited and happy to see my daughter. We recently had a snowstorm and my daughter and Kathryn enjoyed playing in the snow together.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “A friend mentioned to me that I may benefit from a guide dog.  After learning about Guiding Eyes, I applied.  As I went through the process with Guiding Eyes, I got more and more excited for the opportunity and each day recognized ways I would benefit from a guide dog.“

How has having a guide dog impacted your life?  “With Kathryn I feel more secure and therefore, I am more independent.  Kathryn expertly guides me around obstacles. We fit together so well and having her with me 24/7 feels completely natural. I love the added benefit the routine of caring for her brings to my days.  She and I have a common purpose of looking out for each other.”

Were there any training highlights? “The whole training experience at Guiding Eyes was amazing! Guiding Eyes did a wonderful job matching the perfect dog to me.  From our first walk and evening together, Kathryn knew we belonged to each other. My trainer was very accommodating and tailored the training to my special needs.  As a side effect of the stroke, I have some language recall limitations.  We came up with a plan that helped me learn and recall commands, allowing me to successfully communicate with Kathryn.  The modified process was fabulous, and it only took a day for me to learn and practice the necessary words.”

Meet Guide Dog Kathryn

DOB:  2/4/2020
Litter ID: 4K20
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Female
Brood: Noni
Stud: Octane
Littermates: Klondike, Kelsey, Kalina, Kermit, Kettle, Kerry, Keenan, Knight
Region:  Southwestern CT
Regional Puppy Instructor: Maureen Hollis
Puppy Raiser:  Kaethe Bierbach, Hugh & Paula Wiles Sigmon
Facebook: Southwest Connecticut Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Just as Covid turned the world upside down, sweet Kathryn arrived and challenged her raisers to stay focused! Despite Zoom puppy classes and limited socialization, she grew and flourished like a champ. She took in stride the challenge of being raised in two towns by three co-raisers–Kaethe in NY, Paula and Hugh in CT. Kathryn was blessed to have a big sister, GEB Susie, who was very patient and became a best friend, and two big (human) brothers who were often part of her entourage. Kathryn enjoyed playing with toys, jumping into the sprinkler spray, wagging her whole body, running in her big, fenced yard and taking long walks. One of her happiest adventures was a vacation in Maine with Susie and her CT family. All her raisers are proud and happy that she is on her way to joining her new partner and heading off to a great future.  ~ Kaethe Bierbach, Paula Wiles Sigmon, Hugh Sigmon

Photos of the Team…