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Kevin and Dart

Thank you to our generous sponsors…

Kevin and Dart’s training was sponsored in part by Mary Rayman, in memory of  Retired Navy Commander William Johannsen. These simple words say it all –“Home of the free because of the brave.” 

In memory of my wife, Barbara Woods, who loved dogs and Guiding Eyes. Through our entire marriage, we have had dogs, usually two at a time, and enjoyed them! Sponsoring the graduating class is a perfect way to honor her memory.

– Richard Woods, sponsor of our April Graduates

Meet April Residential Training Graduate Kevin

Guide dog Dart sits in front of his handler Kevin on bench on the Yorktown campusGraduate Team: Kevin & Dart
About the Team:  Dart, a male yellow Lab, is Kevin’s 1st Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown:  Bristol, Connecticut
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Shannon McGee 

Kevin grew up in Connecticut and enjoyed both running and skiing in high school. After graduation, Kevin joined the Navy and spent the next four years traveling the world. Some of his favorite places were Venice, Athens and Diego Garcia, and he has traveled as far east as Singapore. After his time in the military, Kevin spent over thirty years in the business of Restaurant Management. Kevin now lives in Bristol, CT with his girlfriend and two sons, and has a daughter who lives in Massachusetts. Dart has been a fantastic addition to his life and Kevin has really enjoyed working through challenges with him. He looks forward to overcoming new challenges as they work and grow together.  

How would you describe your guide dog? “He’s smart. Dart’s got a lot of pep in his step; he’s definitely a mover. He’s very loving and wants to be in your circle. He’s been doing really well at home and adjusted nicely. The first night he slept wonderfully through the night. He’s met my girlfriend and my two sons, and they get along very well.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “As my vision changed, I started to feel like my world was becoming smaller and more constricted. From my viewpoint, working with a guide dog was a way to make my world bigger again. I wanted to be able to get out and explore and I thought a guide dog would be the perfect way to do that. I worked with an Orientation & Mobility Instructor at BESB and we discussed many guide dog schools, but they recommended Guiding Eyes as the one to explore.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Without knowing it, he is driving me to do more. There’s something about that connection that has a real impact. In a roundabout way, it’s almost like having a child in certain ways. You want to take care of them, do the best for them, and it makes you want to do more.”

Were there any training highlights? “Wow, there were a number of things. One in particular was big for us – the night trip. One of the instructors said if we wanted, we could try closing our eyes and really allow our dogs to lead us. It was a challenge, putting all of my trust into this dog, but I did it and it was so freeing. I felt like my mind and body went straight to my left arm. It really helped to gain a sense of trust between Dart and I.”

Meet Guide Dog Dart

Dart is a very excited and motivated pup who loves to go new places and explore; he is very comfortable in new situations. I flew to Indiana with Dart over the holidays and upon boarding, there were two other service dogs on the plane. Dart had to be in the small space with other dogs around for about an hour and a half and he did amazing! He checked in frequently and ended up taking a nap. The most enjoyable outings were when we would go hiking because Dart seemed to enjoy exploring and finding things hidden in the woods. Dart was my first Guiding Eyes pup and it was challenging at times, but also so much fun! Being able to spend so much time and go so many places with a pup that wanted to learn and do his best all the time was very rewarding! Dart was able to come back at the beginning of the Covid pandemic and stay with me, which was an extra special treat during such a hard time. Saying goodbye again was hard but overall, the raising experience was amazing and I am already raising my next pup!

Carson Pursifull, Puppy Raiser of Dart

Enjoy these photos of the team and Dart as a pup on program…