Meet Kurt and guide dog Key
Retinopathy of prematurity means Kurt Ottman has been legally blind since birth. As a boy with a big driveway, a big backyard, a bike, and a little bit of light perception, he loved to go outside and “get wild.” That high energy kept him on track for a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and a long career with the Division of Blind Services as a counselor, teacher, and supervisor, despite losing additional vision from glaucoma as a teenager.
Kurt has been matched with his fifth guide dog, a “huggable, lovable” black Labrador named Key. His wife and sisters have received excellent dogs from our school, so after receiving his other guides from elsewhere, Kurt switched to Southeastern Guide Dogs. He appreciated that our campus was closer to home, too. Between his rehabilitation education, career skills, and longtime experience navigating with his guide dogs, Kurt is an excellent traveler. “You need all the tools in the toolbox,” he says. “Using a dog, you have ultimate freedom to move through your environment.”
As his previous guide dog slowed down before her retirement, Kurt slowed down along with her. He then went without a guide for over a year. Now with Key by his side, he looks forward to going on longer walks, taking the bus around town, and enjoying greater independence.