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Paralympian Danelle Umstead’s Guide Dog Is Supporting Her ‘DWTS’ Journey: She ‘Has Watched Every Rehearsal’

Danelle Umstead
Danelle Umstead Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images

Aziza isn’t just Danelle Umstead’s guide dog, she’s also the part of Paralympian’s Dancing With the Stars cheering squad, as viewers saw in the season 27 premiere on Monday, September 24.

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The skier, 46, made her DWTS debut on live TV with husband Rob Umstead and Aziza rooting her on from the sidelines.

“It was amazing,” Danelle told reporters afterward. “I kept telling my husband he couldn’t watch [the rehearsals] because I wanted him to see what we put together, and it was amazing to have him and my guide dog here watching.”

However, the athlete did allow Aziza into the studio to watch her and dancing partner Artem Chigvintsev practice this week’s foxtrots.

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“My guide dog has watched every rehearsal, so I had to make sure she was here tonight supporting us because that means a lot to me,” Danelle revealed.

Aziza helps Danelle navigate her daily life since the New Mexico native is almost completely blind. “I have very little vision,” she explained. “I have no central vision and I have no peripheral vision, so I can see a lot of light when it’s bright, but it’s hard to go from light to dark because I black out. The little vision that I have is extremely blurry.”

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Danelle also told reporters her time on the ABC ballroom competition is also a dream come true, adding that she thought she was being Punk’d when producers asked her to join the competition. “In 2007, I watched the show, and I was holding my baby son in my arms, and I was four inches away from the screen, and I said I wanted to be the first blind contestant on the show,” she recalled. “I threw it out to the universe, and life did a full circle and came back and gave me my dream, so it was a no-brainer. It’s something I always wanted to do but didn’t think I was capable of doing, and Artem is teaching me that it is possible. I’m living my possible every day.”

Dancing With the Stars season 27 airs on ABC Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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