My Little Golden Ambassador

     KayteeThe seasons were changing, it was near fall of 1994. I was at work, it was midmorning when one of my coworkers stopped by and said “There is a really cute golden puppy in the clinic that needs a home.” I walked down stairs to the veterinary hospital and there was Kaytee. She was eight weeks old. Life had thrown her a bit of a curve, and a traumatic accident to her head at 6 weeks of age caused her to lose her sight.
     A couple of other coworkers had taken Kaytee home for a trial and returned her; she was very cute but very blind. I had two other goldens; Rusty and Sandi at the time and three would sure be a hand full.
     Just one look at that sweet face and I was hooked. I carried her to the curb where my husband was waiting to pick me up that afternoon. I said she needed to be watched for the weekend. Monday morning arrived and I could not return her.
     What would I do with a blind puppy? She soon was following my other two goldens, Rusty and Sandi and they became her guide dogs. We learned as we went along. We made the house safe and created our own language to guide Kaytee.
     Kaytee listens very well and is so brave. She is always so eager, with a big grin on her face. After a while she would do anything I asked. Kaytee step, Kaytee turn, Kaytee “BUMP”, if an object were in her path. Kaytee even surprised me one morning when we were outside, she picked up the morning paper and brought it in. My sighted dogs had never tried that.
     As I would take Kaytee in public, young and old would stop and look at Kaytee (she had to have both eyes removed) and feel sad or wonder how she could possibly get along or what good would a blind dog be. I would tell them of Kaytee going jogging with me everyday with my other two goldens and how she enjoys toys and playing just like a sighted dog. They would act surprised and amazed.
Kaytee on the run!     On Saturdays we try to go to the dog park. Kaytee loves to run. I wear a bell on my wrist. Oscar my 5-year-old golden (Rusty and Sandi have passed on to the rainbow bridge) wears a bell on his collar so Kaytee can follow him. Oscar looks back on occasion to see Kaytee catching up so he needs to pick up the pace or get a nudge from behind. I am never far away with a protective watch.
     Kaytee has become a dog park legend. Often, we will enter the gate and out of the blue I will hear “There’s Kaytee.” It sure makes my heart smile to see my blind little girl all worn-out out from playing and running with the other dogs.
     I think Kaytee’s motto could be, anything they can do, I can do too. She is my little trooper, my hero. She has taught me and those around that regardless of your disability you need to be given a chance and can lead a full and happy life. I have been asked from time to time to speak to owners of blind dogs and tell them of Kaytee and how she adjusts and how using her other senses has enabled her to have a normal happy life.
     Everyone who meets Kaytee falls in love with her. She hears a new voice, runs over, locates them with no trouble, snuggles up and leans right next to them. If you happened to have a little doggy treat in your pocket you would be sure to see that big wide happy grin.

Entry written by Karen Mier of Madison, WI
* Sixth Place Award Recipient

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