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Kimberly and Amaya

Meet Graduate Kimberly

Kim sits with yellow lab guide dog Amaya for team portraitGraduate Team:  Kimberly and Amaya
About the Team:  Amaya, a female yellow Lab, is Kim’s 5th guide, (1st from Guiding Eyes)
Location:  St. Louis, Missouri
Training:  August 2023 On-Campus

Kim is retired from her position with the Social Security Administration in the Hearings and Appeals division. When an appeal was heard, Kim was responsible for transcribing the decisions for the judge’s signature. Prior to her career working within the federal government, Kim attended a community college, then married and started a family. Kim’s son and daughter, adults now, both live nearby. Kim enjoys spending time with her family, whether experiencing an Italian Festival with her daughter, or celebrating her grandson Eli’s recent Special Olympics gold win in bowling. She’ll be there to cheer him on as he goes on to sectionals, and hopefully state competition. Kim enjoys listening to soft rock music, shopping, and going to the movies. After returning home, Kim and Amaya became unintentional ambassadors at a chance meeting with a monthly Guiding Eyes donor, who was pleased to experience her support in action.

How would you describe your guide dog?  “She has the most beautiful brown eyes, very soulful.  She’s amazing. When she’s not working, she loves to cuddle, lying on the couch with me. She enjoys swimming in the pool, playing with her squeaky toys, and stuffed animals.  In harness she follows direction and the touch command very well.  I don’t live in the city, and we have no sidewalks. When we go into town for shopping or a movie, I take Paratransit and Amaya is wonderful; she just curls up at my feet.  She’s great.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “I learned about Guiding Eyes from a friend of a friend who had a dog from there, and suggested I contact them. I am so glad I did. The more I learned about Guiding Eyes, the more I liked their style of doing things.  The trainers showed trust in us. They knew I had experience with four prior guide dogs from another guide school.  My fourth dog, Carrie, is retired and living with my daughter.”           .  

How has a guide dog impacted your life?  “Having a guide dog is a safety factor in my moving around.  If I were at a curb and gave the ‘forward’ command, and it wasn’t safe, Amaya would exercise intelligent disobedience to keep me from crossing into danger. Having a guide dog boosts my confidence to walk down the street and to do what I need to do.”

Were there any training highlights? “All the staff are so considerate and gave us the opportunity to experience buying something in a store while at a mall. My trainer, Dan, was even kind enough to go into the make-up store with me. In one local town, Dan and I were walking, and a man approached and blocked Amaya and began petting her. Amaya, though very alert, stayed by my side, and Dan was very professional, never raising his voice, despite the man’s increasingly disrespectful behavior. Dan explained that this was a working service dog, and I was his client. A bystander who was staying close by even said, ‘I’m sorry that happened. Are you ok?’  Amaya was great.  Dan remained calm and professional, and it was a good experience in de-escalation. During another outing at a theater, Amaya settled, and I enjoyed the movie ‘Barbie’, using the headsets for the descriptive audio.”

Meet Guide Dog Amaya

DOB:  6/17/2021
Litter ID: 4AA21
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador
Gender: Female
Brood: Violet
Stud: Kisco
Littermates: Augie, Annalise, Alyssa, Adele, Alec, Arden, Angelica, Aqua
Region:  Erie NY, Cattaraugus
Regional Puppy Instructor: Cassie Houghton
Puppy Raiser:   Mik Bilia, Mrs. Donna Schwab
Facebook: Erie NY Puppy Raisers
Facebook: Cattaraugus NY Puppy Raisers