Washington, KS- For many of us we don’t think twice when finding a chair to sit in, going to the store for groceries, or stepping outside for some fresh air. For some, however, these simple tasks are a bit more complicated. Especially when you are blind.
That is why you will see Brett Chambers usually accompanied by a four-legged companion when he’s making his way around town. “When I am away from the house or my office, it’s difficult to get around.
With my dog, I no longer depend on family and friends to get where I want to go,” said Chambers.
Although legally blind, Chambers is an automotive and small engine mechanic and a licensed auctioneer in the state of Tennessee. He has lived in Harriman, TN, for nearly 10 years along with his wife and a highly trained guide dog from KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc. His first guide dog, a black lab named Pokewe, passed away in March of 2020 after working with Chambers for 12 years. After having that mobility aid for over a decade, it’s difficult to transition back to life without one. That is why KSDS has a Successor Dog program where past clients get moved to the top of the waiting list to receive another, otherwise called a successor, dog. This is crucial as the nonprofit organization has a wait list of nearly four years to receive a dog.
“When I had my first dog,” Chambers explained, “I came to know an independence I never had before. That is what really led me to wanting a successor dog.”
Chambers received his successor dog, a yellow lab named Rink, in October this year. “My new dog and I are alike in several ways, we both like to move fast and are eager to work,” he said.
As a client of Tennessee Blind Services, Chambers was given a list of guide dog schools. After speaking with several other facilities, he decided on KSDS located in Washington, KS. “I found KSDS to be more family oriented. My wife was allowed to be with me during the awesome experience. I would highly recommend KSDS to anyone,” stated Chambers.
Started in 1990 as a 4H project, KSDS has since placed over 600 dogs in 36 different states. Receiving over 1,000 hours of training from accredited trainers, these assistance dogs are valued north of $25,000. So what does it cost to receive one of these dogs? Absolutely nothing.
“Having an assistance dog is a life changing experience. Being at KSDS is a great experience. The staff are all professional and friendly. The dogs are well trained and the work they do is amazing.”
After successfully completing the guide program, Chambers, his wife, and guide dog Rink traveled home to Harriman ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. For more information on KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc. you can visit their website at www.ksds.org