Guiding Eyes for the Blind is pleased to announce that the Running Guides Pilot Program first phase is a success.

 In News & Events
Liflander Photography

Liflander Photography

Tune in to the CBS Morning Show on Thursday at 8:15am (EST) to view a special report on our Running Guide Pilot Program…

Guiding Eyes set out to meet the challenge of training a guide dog to navigate obstacles at a faster pace, with the ultimate objective of safely guiding a blind handler while running. A German Shepherd named “Klinger” was matched with a visually impaired athlete named Richard Hunter in early August. During the three week training program Richard and Klinger worked together on campus at Guiding Eyes Training Center to learn how to travel as a guide dog team. The team also put in extra miles to learn how to travel safely while running.
After graduating from Guiding Eyes, Richard and Klinger returned home in late August where their training continued. I joined them for several days near their home in Fulson, California to help the team transition to home running routes. Together, the team has run 3 to 4 exercise routes per week since graduation. Richard reports that each run shows improvement. He is thrilled with the team’s successes!

Klinger is currently helping Richard train for the California International Marathon which takes place in Sacramento CA on December 6th

Next steps:
A Waiting List? Guiding Eyes for the Blind would like to gauge the level of interest of individuals who are blind and visually impaired who could benefit from a running guide dog. Interested applicants can contact me at bcawley@guidingeyes.org to be added to the list.
Please note that the Running Guides Program is still in its pilot phase and this is not a waiting list. It is for us to further develop communication with potential candidates for the program so that we can understand and meet this special need. This request is for individuals interested in receiving a running guide and is intended to help us gauge demand,
Can my guide dog run?
Is it possible to train existing Guide Dog Teams to work on exercise runs? We do not recommend running with your guide dog. However, President Thomas Panek and Guide dog “Gus” have volunteered for the next phase of the Running Guides program. To answer the question: is it possible to formally teach an existing guide dog to safely navigate it’s graduate while running.

During this next phase of our Pilot program we will be developing a set of parameters to assist existing teams in evaluating the dog, handler and home environment for running potential.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s Running Guides team is overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the support we have received along the way.
We would like to thank the contributions and support of our fellow staff members who have helped to make the training of Richard and Klinger possible. A big thank you to our puppy raisers and volunteers for your enthusiastic support and hard work in raising such amazing dogs for us to work with!
Thank you to our donors who support the Running Guides Pilot.
Special thanks to Matt Zames as the Executive Sponsor of the design of the running harness prototype work with MIT and the Open Style Lab and to Gatorade for fueling the aspirations of blind athletes everywhere.
Your generosity and support towards this and all of Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s programs helps us to continue to reinvent what it means to give our graduates greater independence.
Help Support the Running Guides Program
Sincerely,
b-cawley-signature

Ben Cawley
Class Supervisor
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
bcawley@guidingeyes.org

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