Meet Scott and guide dog Rio

Usher syndrome

Scott kneels next to Rio on a sidewalk in Tampa. Rio licks Scott’s face. Scott is wearing a brown t-shirt and a yellow sun hat. Rio is a black Lab.

Scott Kealer was just 13 when symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa set in, starting with night blindness and progressively worsening over time. Scott has Usher syndrome, a genetic condition resulting in both vision and hearing loss, and he recently received cochlear implants to aid his hearing.

Scott has a new friend in Rio, his laid-back black Labrador guide dog, and the two have learned to work well together. Scott shares how his trainer worked with him to relax and adjust his tone of voice while giving commands and corrections to Rio. “I don’t hear my own voice the way you all hear it,” he says. Rio not only helps him navigate with confidence, but this playful Lab also eases his tension and helps him become a calmer person.

When the pair heads home to Melbourne, Florida, Scott looks forward to finding new independence. Together he and Rio will accomplish things like grocery shopping and running errands on their own without relying on his wife as much.

“I love fishing. I like kayak fishing, mostly saltwater, and I like to fish in the Indian River Lagoon. I just entered my first fishing tournament for the blind in Cape Coral. It was so much fun. I caught the most catfish.

There’s a park down the street—it’s a ten-minute walk. I’m looking forward to going fishing on my own, with Rio.”

Posted on September 25, 2017 | Category: Blog, Graduates