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Kenn and Hobie

Meet Graduate Kenn

Kenn and german shepherd guide Hobie sit side by side for team portraitGraduate Team: Kenn and Hobie
About the Team: Hobie, a male black & tan German Shepherd, is Kenn’s 3rd Guiding Eyes dog
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Training: July 2023 On-Campus

Kenn has been an exercise professional for over 20 years. He earned two degrees in exercise science, an undergraduate degree from Slippery Rock University and his master’s from California University of Pennsylvania. He currently works as a fitness instructor. He and his wife Jenn enjoy going to concerts for local artists in their area, especially their favorite regional band, The Clarks, and amusement parks, including Kennywood and Disney World. In keeping with his career as a personal trainer, Kenn enjoys physical activities in his free time, such as running and weight training, as well as woodworking. He likes to fiddle around with computers, and spends time making home repairs, hanging out with friends, and doing things with his guide Hobie and retired guide Elton.

How would you describe your guide dog? “He’s focused, energetic, and out of harness he loves to play.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “The way we end up being able to work with the dogs, with flexibility to expand on the basics. Getting the basics down and being able to customize it for what works best for the team is something that the instructors do well. It allows me to work in the best way for him and what he needs, and for us to be successful.  The instructors often are good resources. They know what they’re doing, and as far as that, I find the staff is consistent and helpful.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It changes people’s perception, and they respond to me differently, like someone who knows what they’re doing rather than needing help. With a cane they are more likely to say, ‘Watch out for that tree,’ versus with a guide dog, I hear ‘That’s a nice looking dog there.’ A guide dog knows where they’re going and doing what they should, versus the human trying to do it by themselves.”

Were there any training highlights? “We went to FDR park for our first day of running together.  Hobie and I were running with Payden and Melissa and as we passed the halfway point, a rabbit sat in the middle of the path. The rabbit hopped over to the side of the path that Hobie was shorelining. As we caught up, the rabbit continued to run along with us on Hobie’s left and after 20 yards or so, hopped off into the bushes to let us finish our run. It spoke to Hobie’s focus on his work and how well trained he was on distractions. When we were in New York City, he would often slow his pace to plan how he was going to go around things and then he would find and shoot through the hole. I can appreciate that because of my walking speed. He stays focused, looking for how to go forward, while keeping you clear of obstacles and people.”

Meet Guide Dog Hobie

DOB:  5/3/2020
Litter ID: 1HH20
Color/Breed:  Black&Tan German Shepherd
Gender: Male
Brood: Shea
Stud: Cappy
Littermates: Hedwig, Hagrid, Hexa
Region:  Central NY
Regional Puppy Instructor: MeKalea Chambliss
Puppy Raiser:  Sarah Riester

From the Puppy Raiser…

Hobie’s love for adventure and strong work ethic made him such a fun puppy to raise. He has enriched my life in so many ways, from getting to watch him grow and learn, to now raising his daughter, Renegade, and perhaps most importantly, through all the amazing people I have met as a result of him. I am so proud of Hobie and thankful for all the love he has brought into my life, and I know he will do the same for Kenn. Guiding Eyes dogs are truly a vessel for love, and Hobie just happens to be extra large in size and capacity! Wishing Kenn and Hobie many happy miles, filled with lots of Hobie smiles! Congratulations to the new team! 

Photos of the Team…