EDMOND — Kathleen Kennedy continues to adapt to a life without sight, but she gets a big boost from two special dogs whose eyes and love mean nothing less than the world to her.
Kennedy, 59, of Edmond, doesn't elaborate on what happened, only that she lost her sight in a matter of a week in 2001 and realized it was not coming back. She accepted the reality and was determined to adjust, and perhaps even thrive.
A trained guide dog means she does many of the things sighted people take for granted. She can get out in public and perform the tasks that make life as normal as possible. Her first dog, Pasha, made that possible for nine years.
Now Kennedy has a new companion, Jamie, who is continuing that mission.
“She (Jamie) means everything to me,” Kennedy said. “She's my eyes.”
Pasha might not be a working dog anymore, but she continues to have a home with Kennedy.
“I love her,” Kennedy said. The two animals have become “best buds,” as Kennedy puts it.
After she lost her sight, Kennedy learned braille and was told she was a good candidate for a guide dog. Pasha, a yellow Labrador, was trained at the Guide Dogs for the Blind school in San Rafael, Calif. Kennedy spent 28 days bonding with the dog before taking her home.
She had known Pasha would have to retire in eight or nine years, and in June, Kennedy returned to San Rafael. A volunteer couple, Stephanie Matzke and Tim Mumford, had trained her new yellow Lab for 16 months
There was no cost incurred by Kennedy for either Pasha or Jamie. Expenses donated to her included transportation to and from the West Coast, lodging, food and the training of the animal. Kennedy thinks all those expenses made Jamie a gift valued at $75,000 to $80,000.
That is quite an investment, and the sightless are told to protect their animals.
“They tell us always to hold onto the leash tightly,” Kennedy said. “One got away from a friend of mine in Oklahoma City and was run over on Meridian.”