Guide dog and owner reunited after months apart

Published
Kimberley and Tami as a three picture collageImage source, Kimberley Burrows
Image caption,
Kimberley Burrows said she found it "so hard" to fight back tears during her reunion with Tami

A blind student and her guide dog have been reunited after spending 213 days apart.

Kimberley Burrows, 32, said "best friend" Tami spent months with a foster family after undergoing surgery to remove benign tumours.

Ms Burrows, from Leeds, said she felt "lonely" and "depressed" without the eight-year-old Labrador by her side.

But after an emotional return Tami has "slotted back into my life perfectly", she said.

Final year mature student Ms Burrows said she could "feel the sensation of Tami's tail wagging madly through her body" when they reunited.

Ms Burrows has had sight loss since birth, losing the remainder of her vision when both of her retinas became detached four years ago.

Since the pair were matched in 2014, Tami has helped Ms Burrows to go shopping, make trips to the post office and university, as well as to concerts before the coronavirus lockdown.

Image source, Kimberley Burrows
Image caption,
Kimberley Burrows's favourite band is Swedish group Ghost, with Tami getting a backstage pass during gigs

While heavy metal fan Ms Burrows enjoys the show, she said Tami "gets to enjoy the privilege of being backstage with the crew and sometimes the band themselves".

"She gives me the freedom to enjoy my life just like anybody else can, in a safe and supported way."

'Fighting back tears'

When Tami had to go for surgery last August, Ms Burrows became so lonely she appealed to people in a local Facebook group offering to dog-sit other Labradors.

"I felt very lost and vulnerable whenever I went out to university or the shop and stopped going out at all if I could help it," said Ms Burrows, who spent her 32nd birthday alone.

Ms Burrows did some retraining with her cane to help her get around when Tami first left, but said it "couldn't replace" having a guide dog.

After being told Tami was to return home in late March, Ms Burrows said she "cried and cried".

Image source, Kimberley Burrows
Image caption,
Tami continues to help Ms Burrows go shopping and to university

"Our reunion was so lovely," she said.

"When I got the call that Tami was downstairs in the reception of my student accommodation, the lift couldn't arrive fast enough.

"I opened the door and she ran to me, sniffing and investigating every part of my face that wasn't covered with a mask. I could feel the sensation of her tail wagging madly through her body and I found it so hard to fight back tears."

Tami has remembered all of her guide dog training since her surgery and Ms Burrows said she "couldn't be any prouder or more impressed".

"It feels like she hasn't been gone at all and like I haven't been through any of that heartbreak. She slotted back into my life perfectly like my other puzzle piece."

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