Meet Kevin and guide dog Chief

Trainer Jonathan Bjaland explains the surface change before Kevin Hart and guide dog Chief step off the street curb. [Pictured: Man in Southeastern Guide Dogs uniform stands on the street with his hand on the arm of a male student. The male student is wearing a blue and black jacket and gray pants. His guide dog is a yellow Labrador.]

Kevin sits on a bench at the mall with guide dog Chief by his side. [Pictured: Man wearing a yellow t-shirt and black shorts sits on a brown, leather bench.]

Kevin Hart’s first guide, Alden, passed away in 2004 after they were together for almost nine years. For the past 13 years, he has relied on a human guide on the occasions that he left his home in rural Reytown, Missouri. When his mobility instructor recommended Southeastern Guide Dogs, Kevin agreed, saying, “I was just tired of sitting at home and wanted more independence.”

His new guide, Chief, an “easygoing, pleasant to be around” yellow Lab, is already making a difference. With plans to move to a more pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in Kansas City, Kevin will be taking more walks with a friend who also has a guide dog. And there will be Royals games and country line dancing. “I might be able to teach Chief the two-step,” Kevin says with a grin.

Prolific diabetic retinopathy damaged Kevin’s eyes when he was 28, resulting in total vision loss by 1995. Going blind taught him that he was “not 10-feet tall, and not bulletproof,” he says. He also became less judgmental and now cares more about people than appearances, which has been “very humbling.” With Chief by his side, Kevin can return to his job as a massage therapist. “This was meant to be,” he adds. “This was the right place for me and the right dog.”

Posted on August 31, 2017 | Category: Blog