Meet Jim and guide dog Keebler
James Rigg and guide dog Keebler
Helen Keller once said, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Before a doctor summarily pronounced Jim Rigg legally blind in 1993 and took away his driver’s license, the 39-year-old swimming pool builder knew that something was definitely not right. From night blindness to deterioration of his central vision and color blindness, a mysterious lack of blood supply to his retinas caused worsening vision that the father of two did not want to face. “The biggest obstacle was giving up the independence of driving and going wherever you want to,” he says. But then Jim recalled the quote about the “man with no shoes” and persevered.
Twenty-five years later, recommendations from the Lighthouse and the strong support of his wife, who got the ball rolling by contacting Southeastern Guide Dogs, convinced Jim to apply for a guide dog. Now he’s paired with Keebler, a “loving, obedient, affectionate, and smart” yellow Lab that makes him feel “truly blessed.” Keebler and Jim will make regular visits to his wife’s massage therapy clients who love hearing him play the acoustic guitar. The singer-songwriter also plans on long walks around his neighborhood lake and traveling, knowing that obstacles will be no match for him and Keebler. “Each day he will learn more and more,” Jim says with a smile.
The Eastern Hillsborough County Puppy Raisers named Keebler in memory of Deputy John Kotfila, Jr., nicknamed Keebler, who gave his life to save an innocent citizen from an impaired wrong-way driver.