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Thomas and Kemp

Meet Graduate Thomas

Thomas sits with black lab guide dog Kemp for team portraitGraduate Team: Thomas and Kemp
About the Team: Kemp, a male black Lab, is Thomas’ 2nd Guiding Eyes dog
Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Training: August 2023 On-Campus

Thomas was born, raised, and educated in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he still resides and works. He attended the University of Winnipeg earning a bachelor’s degree with a combined major in criminal justice and microbiology. He has been employed for the past four years as a Hearing Officer with the Manitoba Social Services Appeal Board and has worked for the Public Service for twelve years. He is currently pursuing certification in public sector management at the University of Manitoba, in order to take on a role as a department director. Thomas’ hobbies include working out in his home gym two to three times a week, studying jujitsu, (he has a yellow belt and is working toward his orange), and gardening in his backyard, growing a variety of vegetables and fruits. Thomas was diagnosed with a visual impairment when he was 24 years old, secondary to juvenile diabetes, and his visual acuity is currently limited to light perception. Kemp is his second guide dog from Guiding Eyes. He received his first in 2014, Lulu, who enjoys her retirement spending time with Thomas in the garden and going on walks with his parents when he is working. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “Kemp is really stoic. He approaches work by watching. He learns really fast and is all business when called upon. He is very affectionate and likes making physical contact by rubbing up against me. When not working he really enjoys chewing his favorite bone.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “There is quite a large community of Guiding Eyes graduates residing and working in Winnipeg. I originally learned about Guiding Eyes via casual connections made in the community. These graduates have provided great ongoing support.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “It’s the little day to day things that do it for me. I can walk naturally, not having to be assisted by friends when going to the park or the store. I no longer need to rely on paratransit. When I am walking in a park, I am much less hindered by uneven surfaces. My guide dogs have provided me with normality. I used a cane for 5 years prior to receiving my first guide dog. For me, managing a guide dog was easier on my arms, and less physically challenging and distracting. I can now focus on the sounds of birds and life occurring around me.”

Were there any training highlights? “Both my guide dog training experiences were positives. Experiencing Kemp working along with other guide dogs and my four classmates was enlightening. Michelle and Shannon were terrific. The staff were so welcoming, inviting and encouraged a good time and the food service was first rate. The travel and training in Manhattan, my second time in New York City, made it easier to get around Winnipeg with its similar distractions of construction, public transportation, and crowds.”

Meet Guide Dog Kemp

DOB:  1/13/2021
Litter ID: S-D521
Color/Breed:  Black/Labrador
Gender: Male
Brood: Lizzie
Stud: Odin
Littermates: Douglas, Dalton, Diego, Kody, Dan, Dot, Donna, Denny
Region:  Southern CT
Regional Puppy Instructor: Maureen Hollis
Puppy Raiser:  The Scherber Family
Facebook: Southern CT Puppy Raisers

Special Recognition: Kemp was special named in memory of Kemp Willard by Ruth Sidorowicz.

From the Puppy Raiser…

Kemp loves to work, he was always so happy in class or out and about. He made the puppy raising experience so pleasant. Kemp enjoyed going everywhere with us. He loved camping in Maine with our large family and playing with his two canine friends at home. He was so easy going and mellow that he made friends wherever he went, friends of all ages from 2 to 92. Raising a puppy with a purpose is such a gift and seeing Kemp matched to his person is the greatest happy ending. We wish them both the best as they start the next journey together. ~The Scherber Family, Puppy Raisers

Photos of the Team…