Taking Her Bite of the Big Apple

Q&A with Leader Dog Client Katherine “Kim” Paulk

Published in: Update - Issue 3 - 2017 »   

New York can be an overwhelming city to navigate for anyone, but imagine taking on this environment if you are nearly blind and have severe hearing loss. That’s what Kim Paulk does every day with assurance, finesse and Leader Dog Gemma.

What is your favorite thing about living in NYC?

Photo of Kim smiling and walking toward the camera the golden retriever Leader Dog Gemma walking on her left side in harness. Kim and Gemma are in an underground subway area

Kim takes the subway each day to and from work.

My very high level of independence and inclusion, which allows me to work, live, socialize and enjoy many forms of recreation—all independently! I enjoy life more every day because I find myself walking or riding to go and do the things that are true to my heart.

What is the best thing about having a Leader Dog in a big city?

The ability to go anywhere I wish at any time I like with genuine confidence.

What is the hardest thing about having a Leader Dog in a big city?

The challenge of educating cab drivers, bicyclists and others around the rules and laws pertaining to service dogs. I have found great success thanking those drivers who do pick me up, bicyclists and so forth, because we then engage in an educational conversation that results in great service, good will and lets them experience first-hand just how personable people with disabilities can be.

What type of work do you do?

After raising my family, enjoying volunteer work and welcoming seven grandkids into my life, I have my first job with a financial paycheck! I am a full-time technology sales advisor at a major global corporation.

How do you get from home to work each day?

Photo of Kim smiling and sitting on the grass in Central Park. Her left arm is around golden retriever Leader Dog Gemma, who sits beside Kim on the grass. Kim is holding a red dog toy in her right hand

Kim and LD Gemma enjoy Central Park.

Each day Gemma leads me on a five-minute walk to the subway station. We catch the train for a 10-minute ride and then we have another five-minute walk at the other end. Gemma has the timing down pat and hops up into position ready to guide as the subway car doors open.

What would you say to a person who lives in a large city and is considering getting a Leader Dog?

Having a Leader Dog in the city provides a level of safety and independence that is incredibly liberating and builds great confidence. I have never been treated with a higher level of respect in my life, and it is all because I am perceived as what I really am—very independent—by most of the community, my co-workers and friends.