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Kathy and Tate

Thank you to our generous April Graduate 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 Graduate Kathy

Graduate Kathy and black Lab guide dog TateGraduate Team:   Kathy and Tate
About the Team:  Tate, a male black Lab, is Kathy’s 5th guide dog
Hometown:  West Lafayette, Indiana
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Louise Thompson
April On-Campus Training

Kathy returns for her 3rd Guiding Eyes dog. A high school English teacher for nearly three decades, Kathy loves creative writing, and has authored two books. She has a passion for supporting new teachers, creating a mentorship program which she now feels privileged to direct. She graduated from Trinity Christian College and Purdue University. She was chosen as the 2015 Indiana Teacher of the Year and a top 4 finalist nationally, which let to meeting President Obama and an interview for the CBS Evening News. An avid sports fan, Kathy was a gymnast in her earlier years, competing twice in the National Championships for the Blind. Attending the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics is on her bucket list. She enjoys making chainmail jewelry, as gifts to friends or at a suggested donation with all money going to Guiding Eyes. She loves that she can be creative, designing something esthetically pleasing, despite her vision loss. In January 2021, Kathy was hospitalized with Covid, and thankfully recovered, but with lingering health issues. This, however, has not dampened her spirit or zest for life. She appreciates having so many opportunities to encourage others to keep moving through dark times, which in turn helps her to do the same.

How would you describe your guide dog? “Tate is calm and regal, an old soul. He’s a large dog, but his heart, gaze, and kisses are all soft, gentle, and sweet. He has won my heart. He loves new places, and all the adventures Guiding Eyes offers. Out of harness, he is a sweetheart and in our evening routine he curls up on the floor and we cuddle. That’s how we finish our night. I do considerable public speaking, where Tate must adjust to stages, spotlights, and clapping. Guiding Eyes works at matching the dogs and saw he was not bothered by crowds, loud noises, etc.” 

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “Guiding Eyes has all the layers -the breeding, a very articulated puppy raising program, innovative training, and after graduation, support with access to trainers and veterinary advice. It stood out with its personal connection, responsiveness, and the family feel of the organization. I felt that when I first came in 2007 and I’ve felt it ever since. For me it was like connecting with old friends; the feeling that once you are part of Guiding Eyes, you are part of it forever.”

How has a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s the companionship, speed and ease of movement, and in my public life, dogs are a way to break down barriers and connect with a group. People you meet don’t know what it is like to have vision loss, but they do know what it is like to love a dog. If that is a way to start a dialogue, to find a way forward, then that is fine with me. I love my dogs, so we can start there and get to know each other as human beings. At night I can snuggle with a dog who changes everything, the whole present and future for me. Nacho was my 2nd Guiding Eyes dog and the best I ever worked with -my soulmate dog. He’s retired now and with my parents. I never expected that returning for his successor would be anything but a mechanical necessity, and I didn’t expect it to be two of the best weeks of my life. I experienced community, a trainer who just couldn’t be better, and now I have another dog who is going to add another chapter. It was an incredible time.”

Were there any training highlights? “Louise was extraordinary, supportive, and one of the most positive individuals I have ever met. My heart damage from Covid sometimes causes me to feel light-headed or weak. If we were walking Louise would say, on this block, there are 3 benches. There was never any pressure or judgement if we just sat and talked, and she was a blend of instructor, coach, counselor, and believer.  My connection with her was extraordinary. My classmates were phenomenal; lots of laughing and some tears, of course. We were tightly bonded. As the only retrain, and a nurturer by nature, I was trying to find ways to build my classmates up, and in doing that we’re always lifted up ourselves. It was beautiful to walk with them through these first-time experiences. It was my classmate Calle’s birthday, and she is an actress on a Netflix show. When I got to the restaurant table first, I quietly mentioned the birthday to the waitress, who recognized her, and we had a great celebration.”

Meet Guide Dog Tate

Tate has always been super chill, a calm gentle giant. Tate knew just how much effort he needed to exert for any given task or activity without over exerting himself. I knew when Tate wanted a break on a hike. He would simply stop and lie down. Tate liked his paws firmly planted on the ground. Tate never jumped and didn’t swim much, but he would walk around in the water. Tate and I enjoyed our walks around the lake in the summer. Most days throughout the year Tate enjoyed playtime with his GEB friends, Flower and Addie. Tate was a wonderful companion for me and I’m sure he will be a wonderful guide dog and companion for Kathy.

Clare Anderson, Puppy Raiser of Tate

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