Robbie Kaman

Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation‘s president and co-founder, Roberta Kaman, passed away yesterday. Her death has truly rocked all of us affiliated with the school. In fact, while I’d already heard the news from a puppy raiser friend, I was very surprised to have the director of training call about half an hour ago to inform me. We didn’t speak for long as he is calling each graduate individually and had a long list yet to get through. But such was Robbie’s contribution to the school that there really isn’t anyone familiar with Fidelco who isn’t impacted by her passing.

Robbie holding a GSD pupOne thing anyone involved with Fidelco learns very quickly is how much the Kamans mean to the school and vice versa. Not only did they co-found the school, but they both worked very hard to build it up and maintain it. Even in her retirement Robbie was a constant fixture at the school: attending puppy classes, aiding with breeding, helping in the kennel, being a resource for pretty much anything Fidelco or German shepherd related, and so very much more.

I may not have had the longstanding relationship with Robbie as many others, but even in the few short years I’d been acquainted with her she has shown her deep commitment to every aspect of Fidelco. When calling in to report on Yara’s health before and after her diagnosis of EPI, Robbie was the one I most often spoke with. She was always eager to offer suggestions and words of support, even if it was through another staff member. I was also always deeply impressed at her powers of recall and genuine interest in all of the dogs that passed through Fidelco. The few times I was around her in person, at lunch after the Walk in 2008 and the 2009 graduate dinner, she made it a point to inquire with all of us present about our dogs, including foster pups both past and present. Factoring in that she was also involved with all the pups at the school and a constant stream of new fosters, I am truly amazed at her ability to keep everyone straight and her enthusiasm about each individual. Her absence at this past Banquet and Walk did not go unnoticed, but knowing she won’t be around at any future events — or at the school for her daily visits — is currently beyond my ability to fully process.

I think there were a lot of people who didn’t quite understand her, even amongst friends of Fidelco. And certainly we all didn’t agree with her all the time. But no one can deny that she was a wealth of information and always eager to pitch in when it came to the shepherds. I don’t have adequate words to express my heartfelt gratitude for what she and Charlie have done to aid blind persons like myself.

She will be greatly missed.

EDIT: Robbie’s obituary.

Comments

  1. I was so sorry to read this. It was always amazing to hear or read how much she was involved in every aspect of Fidelco, to the smallest details. As a foster parent attending Saturday classes, you never wanted Robbie to look at your pup, declare that she had gained too much weight since last week, and direct you cut back on the food by an 1/8 of a cup. She must have seen 80-100 puppies a week, just in the foster classes alone, and she had a mental Rolodex and charts all ready, to make sure that these pups would be the best that they could be.

    • I was very surprised to hear the news yesterday. I’d known for the last year or so she’d been not feeling well and seemingly run down, but I didn’t know of her battling cancer. I think Fidelco — or at least Robbie herself — was trying to keep it quiet.

      Thankfully, she’d been stepping down more and more from her responsibilities at the school. Her loss is certainly a blow, but I think if things were as they were even a few short years ago Fidelco would be in pure chaos right now. Still, it really is odd to think about all of this going on without her constant presence.

      I’m also so sad for Charlie, who has also been in failing health for years now.

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