Kaylene was in her early 20s when she lost sight in her right eye due to diabetic retinopathy. Just 12 months later, she lost vision in her left eye. As she struggled to come to terms with her vision loss, she was forced to leave her beloved profession of teaching. But there was hope on the horizon. And her name was Zelda.
Kaylene was in her early 20s when she lost her sight due to diabetic retinopathy. As she struggled to come to terms with her vision loss, she was forced to leave her beloved profession of teaching. But there was hope on the horizon. And her name was Zelda.
Zelda was Kaylene’s very first Guide Dog and she served Kaylene faithfully for many years before hanging up her harness to enjoy her retirement as a pampered pet with a loving family.
Kaylene had been living in the eastern states before moving back home to WA, returned to using a cane following Zelda’s retirement. So, there was no Guide Dog by her side when her son Jayden was born in 2002. As Kaylene recalls: “Things are interesting being blind and having a baby!” As a single mother, things were even more challenging for Kaylene, but when Jayden was 5, Kaylene was successfully matched with another Guide Dog: Willow.
“Even though I had already had a Guide Dog, I needed to go to Perth to do training with Willow,” Kaylene says. “Luckily, we were very well matched!”
Willow served Kaylene faithfully as her Guide Dog until November last year when she also retired. In a fairy tale ending, Willow is living her retirement as Kaylene’s pet, as Kaylene has a big back yard.
Enter Kara: Kaylene’s third Guide Dog. Within days of meeting each other, Kaylene and Kara had formed a strong bond, and Kaylene says her third Guide Dog is as clever and alert as her first two. But she says it’s a constant cycle of learning from each other.
“Repetition is the thing,” she explains. “There are lots of commands you need to use with the Guide Dog. You have to use your feet, your hands and your voice all the time, to let the dog know what you want to do. It’s constant learning: new routes and things like that.”
Kara is the third generation Guide Dog for Kaylene: and each of her Guide Dogs has played a critical role in her life. Two of them have been by her side as she raised her son, Jayden, now almost 20.
Jayden’s childhood was forever changed by that comforting presence, and Kaylene knows life would have been very different for her son if she didn’t have the independence that comes with having a Guide Dog.
“Each Guide Dog has made a difference to my life in different places and at different stages of life,” Kaylene says.
Zelda gave me the confidence I needed while coming to terms with losing my sight and retaining some of my freedom. Willow gave me the independence to walk him to school and to attend assemblies like other parents do with their kids. And while he’s a young adult now, I know that it gives him peace of mind to know that Kara is going to keep me safe and allow me to maintain my independence.”
Kaylene and Jayden know they have good people like you to thank for that.
Please donate today so we can give the gift of freedom and independence to more Western Australians like Kaylene.