Dogs also provide the eyes to those that need them.

A recent inspiring item from the BBC.

This news item was featured on the BBC the other day and I made a note to share it with you.

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Blind man runs New York half marathon with three guide dogs

18th March, 2019

Thomas Panek and his guide dog Gus running the New York City Half Marathon

Thomas Panek has completed 20 marathons, however, he made history on Sunday at the New York City Half Marathon.

While visually impaired runners usually use human guides, Mr Panek became the first person to complete the race supported by guide dogs.

A trio of Labradors – Westley, Waffle and Gus – each accompanied him for a third of the race.

The team finished in two hours and 21 minutes.

Mr Panek, who lost his sight in his early 20s, told CNN that while he appreciated the support of human volunteers, he missed the feeling of independence.

“It never made sense to me to walk out the door and leave my guide dog behind when I love to run and they love to run,” he said. “It was just a matter of bucking conventional wisdom and saying why not.

In 2015, Mr Panek established the Running Guides programme which trains dogs to support runners.

When selecting his canine companions for the New York race, Mr Panek chose siblings Waffle and Westley to join Gus, who is his full-time guide dog.

(L-R) Thomas Panek, Waffle, Westley and Gus show off their medals after the race

“The bond is really important. You can’t just pick up the harness and go for a run with these dogs,” Mr Panek told CNN. “You’re training with a team no matter what kind of athlete you are, and you want to spend time together in that training camp.”

Each dogs sets its own pace – Westley runs an eight minute mile, while his sister Waffle can cover the same distance in six minutes – and helps Mr Panek avoid obstacles such as kerbs and cones.

Each dog wears a special harness and set of running boots, to protect their paws.

Gus was chosen to run the final leg of the race and cross the finish line with Mr Panek. He retired from his duties as a guide dog at the end of the race.

“It’s a little emotional for me because he’s been there with me the whole time,” Mr Panek said.

Gus, Mr Panek’s personal guide dog, entered retirement after the race

Before the race, Mr Panek told Time magazine that guide dogs give visually impaired people the freedom to “do whatever it is a sighted person does, and sometimes, even run a little faster than them”.

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“It’s a little emotional for me because he’s been there with me the whole time,”

It’s not just Mr. Panek who finds the report a little emotional!

As I have said many times before and undoubtedly will continue to say: Dogs are truly amazing animals.

14 thoughts on “Dogs also provide the eyes to those that need them.

  1. Very nice, Paul. I would like add a recommendation to view the video – Pick of the Litter. I was lucky enough to catch it on a flight. It is a dogumentary that details the lives of five Labrador pups who begin their training to be guide dogs for the blind. Incredible film that was thrilling and heart-breaking as each dog was tested over a period of several years. Not all of them made the grade.

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  2. Wow! That’s one thing I didn’t imagine they could do. We have a guide dog training center here in Portland that I visited with the Senior Center and was quite impressed. We see them most early mornings when walking our mall for exercises being trained to go up and down escalators and even walk through swarms of people. The dogs are free to those that need them. They rely on donations and the center cares for the dogs for their lifetime. It’s just incredible what they do. But I’m still grateful I didn’t end up needing one thanks to the invention of contact lenses. I was supposed to be blind before age 21 so the guide dogs hold a special place in my heart. Thanks for sharing all of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Marlene, well you have quite a story regarding sight let alone Thomas and his guide dogs. But you are so right in terms of what the training centers do. Is that one in Portland, in terms of receiving donations, part of a national organization?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do believe it is part of the national organization. It’s quite close by driving distance and I had no idea it was even there. Should have know with so many of the dogs training in the mall. It’s quite a large campus.
        Guide Dogs For the Blind, 32901 SE Kelso Rd, Boring, OR 97009 http://www.guidedogs.com (503) 668-2100

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