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Krista and VanDyke

Meet Graduate Krista

Graduate Team:  Krista and VanDyke
About the Team:  VanDyke, a male yellow Labrador, is Krista’s 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  St. Paul, Minnesota
Training: October 2022 Home Training

Krista is originally from North Dakota. This returning Guiding Eyes graduate holds two bachelor’s degrees. The first, a degree in management from Minot State and the second is from the University of North Dakota, where she studied Rehabilitation and Human Services. She uses the latter in her role as a technology instructor at Vision Loss Resources. Krista supports clients in the Adjustment to Blindness training program. Krista joined the Guiding Eyes family in 2014 when she got her first guide dog Chapman.

How would you describe your guide dog? “VanDyke turned 3 while we were in training so of course, we celebrated his birthday with some new toys! VanDyke and I bonded very quickly. As a guide, Van Dyke is attentive, strong and likes to work. In addition to ‘being my eyes’ he provides me with balance support.  When he’s not working, he’s a playful dog.  I like to say he has a ‘Velcro’ quality, as he is always right by my side.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes?  “Before I got my first dog, Chapman, I knew other people with guide dogs from Guiding Eyes. Based on their positive experiences and recommendations, I applied to Guiding Eyes for a guide of my own. Guiding Eyes offers guide dogs that receive additional training time to assist visually impaired clients who also need some balance assistance. This specialized training has been very helpful to me and influenced my initial decision to go to Guiding Eyes for my guide dogs.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “I can’t imagine my life without a guide dog! I attribute much of my independence to my retired guide Chapman and current guide VanDyke.  I appreciate the freedom I have with a guide dog. After Chapman retired and I was awaiting my new guide dog, I reverted to using my cane. I quickly realized just how much I relied on my guide dog. With a dog, I am much more comfortable and willing to go to unfamiliar places. I have had so many new experiences I would not have attempted, as a cane identifies obstacles, where as a dog avoids them all together.  My guide dog is also a wonderful companion. I still have some vision, but even if I was totally blind tomorrow, I know I could adapt and with VanDyke I’d still get around.”

Were there any training highlights? “With both my guide dogs I have opted for training at my home. I was fortunate to work with the same trainer, Mike, in 2014 and 2022.  My recent training coincided with my company moving to new office space.  VanDyke and I were able to thoroughly explore and become familiar with our new office.  We go there 4 times a week, so that was a huge help.  Training at home, enabled us to work on our everyday routines.  A funny story from training I like to share occurred while walking a route near my home.  We walked past a person painting a mural on a building.  Van Dyke negotiated some sidewalk obstacles.  When I praised VanDyke with a ‘good job!’, the painter thought I was talking to him and thanked me.” 

Meet Guide Dog VanDyke

DOB:  10/10/2019
Litter ID: 5V319
Color/Breed:  Yellow/Labrador Retriever
Gender: Male
Brood: Jenna
Stud: Charlie
Littermates: Vaughn, Velma, Venice, Val, Velour
Region:  Maine, New Hampshire
Regional Puppy Instructor: Lisa Bumbalo
Puppy Raiser:  Deborah Dik, Tom and Lori DiCampo
Facebook: New Hampshire Puppy Raisers

Photos of the Team…