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Karen and Bart

Meet Graduate Karen

Karen and black lab guide Bart sit outside for their team portraitGraduate Team:  Karen and Bart
About the Team:  Bart, a male black Lab, is Karen’s 3rd Guiding Eyes dog
Location: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Training: June 2023 Home Training

Karen currently lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She has Usher Syndrome which affects both her hearing and vision and received two cochlear implants in 2004 and 2009. Karen has a husband of 36 years, and they live with her current guide dog Bart, retired dog Hilda, and their foster, older cat Sara-Joy. Karen has her own pet sitting business and when not working she enjoys walking in nature and walking along the lake. If she has someone with her, she gives the person her camera to take pictures of the wildlife. During her free time, she looks at the photos and experiences the wildlife that she could not see or missed during her walk. She enjoys playing with her partner Bart, and Hilda and Sara Joy.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Bart is a very calm and sweet dog. When I’m sitting down, he will put his paw on my lap and sometimes his head on my lap as well. Even when he lies on his back, he will reach his paw out to touch me, so we stay connected. I can tell when Bart is curious about something by the expression on his face and the movement of his ears. Bart is always ready to work. Bart and Hilda are good buddies and they both like to play tug of war with their toys.” 

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “What got my attention when researching guide dog schools for my first guide dog, is Guiding Eyes has Specialized Training. In 2007 I was on-campus training with my first guide dog named Yorktown. My instructor Kate and the people on-campus are awesome. For the second and 3rd guide dog there was no reason for me to look elsewhere. I was home trained with Hilda and Bart by Susan. She really understands my needs, and I enjoyed every minute of training with her.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Guide dogs give me confidence in the social community. I trust my guide dog and we just go. We go walking in nature or go shopping, and I don’t have to worry about obstacles. I don’t need a white cane, and I don’t have to depend on somebody to guide me.”

Were there any training highlights? “In my area there are many dogs around that could be a distraction for Bart. I mentioned to Susan that we had not come across any dogs during our walk. Turns out we had walked past a few dogs during the walk. Good job Bart!”

Meet Guide Dog Bart

DOB: 4/1/2020
Litter ID: 5BB20
Color/Breed: Black/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Male
Brood: Lace
Stud: Kisco
Littermates: Bishop, Brahms, Ballou, Bedford, Biscotti, Basil, Bettina, Brava, Luke
Region: Adirondack
Regional Puppy Instructor: Kate Gardner
Puppy Raiser:  Barbara Paszul
Facebook: Adirondack Puppy Raisers

From the Puppy Raiser…

Bart was our pandemic pup, so we picked him up from Guiding Eyes at 6 weeks old and we had him until just past his 2nd birthday. From the time he was a puppy, Bart was smart, friendly, always had his tail wagging and loved to have fun. But he also understood when it was time to work and learn and he loved that too. Bart went to middle school with me every day. No matter what was going on in school, Bart could remain cool, calm and collected. Bart loved the great outdoors. We hiked year round, went snow shoeing, swimming and enjoyed lots of puppy play dates. Raising Bart was an absolute pleasure! We hope Bart and his new best friend have the most wonderful life together!  ~ Barb Paszul

Photos of the Team…