Meet Chris and guide dog Kathleen
You know you’re a busy parent when you’re asked if you have any hobbies and the answer is, “Raising two kids!” Chris Chaffin’s active teenagers keep this family on the go, not to mention his challenging job of managing the financial aid office for the local technical school in Plattsburgh, NY. That’s why his fourth guide dog, a sweetheart named Kathleen, has her work cut out for her in keeping up with Chris. His previous guides, Trooper, Bonnie, and Hannah, have helped him navigate for many years, and now it’s Kathleen’s turn.
Born legally blind from retinopathy of prematurity, Chris has always struggled with vision loss. Then while he was young, he was also diagnosed with the hereditary retinitis pigmentosa (RP), causing his vision to grow progressively worse. “With RP, life is always changing,” he says.
It was Chris’s parents who first encouraged him to come to Southeastern Guide Dogs. “I was a ‘goer’—always on the go—and my parents thought I’d be more secure if I had a companion to go with me,” he says. Kathleen helps him maintain his active lifestyle.“Being able to go to work day by day, to go shopping, to do it by yourself, that’s the reason you get a dog. It’s the freedom of having independence.”