YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. -- Guiding Eyes For The Blind, with locations in Yorktown and Patterson, has developed running dogs that can be guides for blind people who run.
Guiding Eyes graduated its first team last month, Richard Hunter a former marine and marathon runner and his guide dog, Klinger.
Klinger has logged over 200 miles of running over the last six months and has helped instructors at Guiding Eyes develop running appropriate equipment and training techniques.
Hunter, who lives in California, has retinitis pigmentosa and often runs with sighted guides. He would run by himself sometimes and in 2013 he got hit by a car, suffering a severe concussion, facial fractures and a broken neck.
"Everyone was concerned for me," Hunter said. "My middle daughter started asking about getting a guide dog."
Hunter brought up the idea with Guiding Eyes of having a guide dog help him run and he began working with Klinger. The two have hit it off.
"Klinger's an amazing dog," Hunter said. "He loves running, it's been fantastic. He gives me a lot of encouragement. It's been a lot of fun and very exciting for me.
Klinger runs with Hunter on shorter runs and Hunter has people who run with him when he needs to run longer distances to train for marathons. Klinger's already a big hit with Hunter's family.
"They are very supportive, they are excited to have a German Shepherd," Klinger said. "The way we do things will change significantly. When we go to a restaurant, he can come with us."
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