Meet March Residential Graduate Phil
Graduate Team: Phil and Kit
About the Team: Kit, a male yellow Lab, is Phil’s 5th guide dog
Hometown: New Bedford, Massachusetts
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Michelle Tang
Phil grew up in Worcester, MA, and has always enjoyed music. He alone made up the music department at his small high school, so for any event that may have needed accompanying music, Phil was the guy. After high school, he attended the Berkeley College of Music in Boston, but during his time there, experienced a significant change in his vision and left school to work in the Radio industry at a community-based station. Eventually Phil moved to Maine, where he spent 12 years working as a piano teacher, as well as performing and producing music. Another shift in his vision prompted him to pursue a new path and Phil went to Florida to obtain a bachelor’s degree and began a career in Human Services. He’s still a lover of music, but now works as a Recruiter and Case Manager in the Boston area, where he helps those with disabilities secure employment at federal jobsites. Phil’s previous four guides traveled with him through many of his life’s journeys and he looks forward to continuing this journey with Kit by his side.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Kit is very curious; he loves to assess a situation and really look things over. This is true when working, but out of the harness, too. We’ve had a few visitors and he wanted to know all about them, but he also picks up on cues very well. He’s very respectful of my wife, who is a little less hands-on with him. I originally thought he was shy, but really, it’s more that he’s very analytical. I like that about him.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “Before I came to Guiding Eyes, I was living in Maine, working a different career and living a different life. I experienced some significant changes to my vision and began studying for my bachelor’s degree in Florida. I thought working with a dog would be a real benefit to me and soon after I was matched with my first guide, Huckleberry, who worked with me through some really significant parts of my life. I had Huckleberry when my wife and I married and when we moved to Boston. My guide dogs have been with me through a lot.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Independence; unquestionably. My wife and I are both artists by trade and training and are both independently minded. My dogs allow me to continue my work. I work in the Boston area quite a bit, and Kit, like his predecessors, takes the bus with me to the city. I can also head downtown in New Bedford to keep my walking up and get things done. I have some really nice residential routes around here too, so even during the pandemic we’ve had a lot to do; we’ve been walking 4 miles a day.”
Were there any training highlights? “One of the things that always endears me to the school, is the informality and comfortability when working with the staff. We are creative people by trade and are used to meeting people ‘where they are’ and with Guiding Eyes training, it’s like meeting the dogs ‘where they are’. There’s a period where the dog is adjusting to you, but I’m always really pleasantly satisfied to see how quickly they start to form that bond. I really love getting to know the dogs and those little goofy moments that you have with them. Kit, for example, is really good at tug-of-war!”
Meet Guide Dog Kit
- DOB: 10/6/18
- Tattoo ID: 8K318
- Color/Breed: Yellow Labrador Retriever
- Gender: Male
- Brood: Willa
- Stud: Chester
- Littermates: Kevin, Keegan, Kingston, Kindle, Kathleen, Kelsa
- Region: Central Connecticut
- Regional Manager: Maureen Hollis
- Puppy Raiser: Jackie and Chris Woodin
- Facebook: Guiding Eyes Central CT Puppy Raisers
Kit has the ability to easily adapt to every situation that he is put in. In all of the time he was with us, he never got nervous or flustered over anything. We took Kit to Bethlehem fair for a day trip, where he encountered every type of distraction imaginable. He navigated huge crowds with ease, went into barns with livestock and never missed a beat, while being a great ambassador for Guiding Eyes. We love Kit so much. He bonded with us so quickly and was the most joyful, loving dog, frequently seeking us out for check ins and a big belly scratch.
Raising Kit was one of the best experiences of our lives. He enriched every day with his fun loving personality. We miss him every single day but wish him well as he starts this new time of his life. We thank the GEB team for everything they have done to make raising Kit a positive experience. The support and kindness offered by everyone did not go un noticed.
Jackie Woodin, Puppy Raiser of Kit
Enjoy these photos of the team and Kit as a Pup on Program
Meet our other recent guide dog team graduates. Click here!
Friends and Family: Watch this video to learn more about Working with a Guide Dog Team.