GDB alumna Kathy Kennedy works as a reservation sales agent at the Walt Disney Travel Company. The following is an article printed in the Disney employee magazine about the office retirement party thrown for Kathy's guide, yellow Lab Katela.
In August of 2001 a new friendship developed between Disney Travel Reservation Sales Agent Kathy Kennedy and her Guide Dog, Katela. At the time, the playful Labrador pup was just 2 years old and ready to assist Kathy, who is legally blind.
“She guides me around trees and posts and if something is in the way, she takes me around it,” she said.
Like many owners of assistance dogs, the trained companion allowed Kathy to feel safe and lead a confident, independent life. When she is with Katela, she says people are more receptive to her than if she walks with the assistance of a cane.
Although the dogs appear approachable, Kathy stresses the importance for others to be aware when Guide Dogs are with their owners. “When we are holding on to their harness they are working and their focus should be on us,” she said. The appropriate way to approach someone with a guide dog is to first ask the person’s permission to pet their companion. Avoid calling out the animal’s name as it may distract them from doing their job.
After eight years of service, Katela is being retired and will be adopted by Kathy's sister who has three young boys to play with their new family member. Kathy will be getting a new guide in a few short months. “She is 70 years old in dog years so it must be hard for her,” said Kathy. “It is breaking my heart to retire her, but I will still get to see her.”
A retirement party for Katela was held at The Walt Disney Travel Company, complete with treats and smooches from Pluto!