It’s no surprise that guide dog teams make profound impacts within their local communities. GDB client Camille Jassny, with her Golden Retriever guide dog, Egan, is one example of how a person's reach can make the difference in the lives of many.
Camille is a Seattle artist with a specialty in tactile art that can be experienced not only visually, but also through touch. In addition to creating intricately layered and textured collages, she might be best known for the flowers that she sculpts out of buttons and wire. Sharing her work brings her great joy, and has ignited her passion to help build connections within the blindness community - connections that she felt were sorely lacking as she was growing up and didn't feel like she had anyone with whom she could relate regarding her deteriorating vision.
For more than a decade, Camille has been building and fostering ways to support people with visual impairments, oftentimes with art at the heart of her initiatives. She facilitates a support group as well as a book group for people who or blind or visually impaired, and has introduced people in those groups to an array of resources in the arts. One of those is a program by the Seattle Art Museum in partnership with the international collective Art Beyond Sight in which docents lead specialized tours of the museum's exhibits.
"I want to make sure that people realize that, being blind, you don't have to stay away from art," Camille said.
During the COVID-19 global pandemic, one silver lining was that Camille's support group actually grew in size, thanks to the shift to virtual instead of in-person meetings. People from a much broader area are now able to join the conversations and find a sense of community among people with similar challenges during a time that had the potential to be very isolating.
As for her guide dog, Egan, Camille adores that she has a dog that suits her busy lifestyle so well.
"As a working artist and someone involved with so many organizations around Seattle pertaining to mobility and blindness, it was important I was matched with a dog who would fit with my active lifestyle," she said. "He knows my pace and my cues, and he easily navigates the very busy neighborhood of Capitol Hill, where we live. He simply loves being a guide dog. He is so proud and serious when he has his harness on and he’s working. Egan is happiest when he’s out and about, traveling, and meeting new people - just like I am! I do think that Egan and I both know how to work and play hard. We have a great sense of love and respect for one another. I know that I wouldn’t be able to lead the incredible, fast-paced lifestyle I enjoy without him, and I am so grateful for the role he has played in my life."
Thank you Camille, for all of your work in your community. Happiest of trails to you and Egan!