Dogs help blind runners keep up the pace
For 67 years, Guiding Eyes for the Blind has provided guide dogs to people with vision loss and just recently, the pups picked up the pace to help those who are looking for more adventure.
Karen Dewing grew up a multi-sport athlete - later becoming an avid runner and hiker. But at age 33, Dewing started losing her vision and eventually becoming legally blind. "I was fortunate to run several 5Ks, and when it became very challenging, my daughter was my guide. That was before I knew about Guiding Eyes and the opportunity to get a dog," says Dewing
Dewing was matched up with Flint. A black lab who was trained at the Guiding Eyes Yorktown Heights facility.
The running guides program trains the dogs to be able to run and maintain safety for the dog and the client at a faster speed.
The program began about six years ago and has become popular nationwide. The dogs train for at least two years before graduating. "They're just not going out for a run and following their person around the park. They are still taking into account branches down, potholes, curbs - anything that could cause a safety problem," explains Jolene Hollister, from Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
For Dewing, her running days are far from over thanks to Guiding Eyes and Flint. "To experience things that you've enjoyed over your lifetime that have slipped away that now is returning is a great feeling."
This month, Guiding Eyes of the Blind is hosting a fundraiser called Wag-A-Thon. It's a marathon that you and your dog can walk or run anywhere. Money raised helps provide these guide dogs to people with vision loss free of charge.