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Guide Dog Brightens Life for Man with Tunnel Vision

Ed Kunitz of Prescott walks with his new guide dog, Monty.

Ed Kunitz of Prescott walks with his new guide dog, Monty.

Deteriorating vision from retinitis pigmentosa, or tunnel vision, cut short Ed Kunitz’s career as a taxi driver 11 years ago, and he stopped driving altogether.

“It got to the point where it was too dangerous for me to drive,” said Kunitz, whose vision deteriorated to a 5-percent field of view. Doctors diagnosed him with the hereditary disease at age 40.

Kunitz, 60, and a Prescott resident for 13 years, said he began spending more time at home.

“I’d be on the computer until I got bored,” he said. “I watched TV until I got bored, and I’d go back on the computer.”

However, Kunitz’s life has changed because Continue reading »

Guide Dog Etiquette

Have you ever wondered if you could pet a guide dog?

There are many things you can do that can either help or hinder a guide dog team (handler + guide dog) while they are out in public. Here are some expert tips from three excellent guide dog organizations.

Guide Dog Interaction Tips

  • Petting – As tempting as it may be to pet a Guide Dog, remember that this dog is responsible for leading someone who cannot see. The dog should never be distracted from that duty. A person’s safety may depend on their dog’s alertness and concentration. (source: Guide Dogs for the Blind)
  • Talking to the Handler – Before asking a Continue reading »

A Year and a Half of Love: Guide Dog Puppy Raising

Jennifer and Lowe

Could you take a puppy into your home when they are only 8 weeks old and give them back at 18 months old? That’s about a year and a half of puppy kisses and playing and bonding with an adorable four-legged friend.  When I look at my 50lb, 6 year old dog, Sarge, I still see a puppy. I still remember his little puppy growl when we played tug of war and holding his little body in my arms. I cannot imagine having to give him up after spending that time together, bonding with him and making him a part of my family.  

When I went for a visit to Guide Dogs of the Desert, I met an amazing woman, Jennifer Pinder, who raises puppies to become Guide Dogs. 

She adopts them at only 8weeks old, loves and cares for them and then about a year later Continue reading »

It's Guide Dog Month!

Just a few weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Guide Dogs of the Desert with Daniel Sundin, our PETCO Community Manager and Rick Rockhill, Sr. VP for Natural Balance.

Me, Daniel Sundin, and Rick Rockhill at Guide Dogs of the Desert

With September being Guide Dog Month, we wanted to learn more about Continue reading »

A Guide Dog Story – Connie and JP

connie_and_jp_alone

The following article is from Phil, a recipient of a dog from Guide Dogs of the Desert.

When I was 18 years old, like most teenagers I wanted to get away from home so I decided the best way to do that was to join the Army.  I was a chaplain’s assistant for a year before I was sent to Vietnam. 

We were the first deployment of women to go to Vietnam to take the place of the men in the offices so they could go to the field and fight.  The temperatures were in the 100’s all the time.  We lived in an unpleasant place called Tent City B outside of Saigon.  If you were in Vietnam you were subjected to Agent Orange and it caused a lot of defects and diseases.

I got diabetes and around 1989 I noticed that I could not Continue reading »

What a Guide Dog Means to Me

Linda and her guide dog Buster

Linda and her guide dog Buster

The following article is from Linda, a recipient of a dog from Guide Dogs of the Desert.

Getting a guide dog has not only given me freedom and independence in getting where I need to go; it has also opened my spiritual eyes to the window of my soul.

I no longer use a cane to feel and probe my way through this world. Using others to get around isn’t a problem any more because guide dogs want to go everywhere their human does. All three of my guides have taken me Continue reading »

A Guide Dog Story – Phil and Avery

The following article is from Phil, a recipient of a dog from Guide Dogs of the Desert.
Crossing the street with Avery

Crossing the street with Avery

Tap…Tap…Tap…Tap.  That’s the sound of the cane I used for more than seven years.  Primitive by many standards and even inaccurate at times.  I have low vision due to an eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, better known as RP.  A deterioration of the retina.  The condition causes night blindness and loss of peripheral vision.  In most cases, eventual loss of total vision.  My remaining central vision has been measured at between 1 and 2%.

The white cane with the red tip was my vehicle of transportation.  It found curbs, stairs and obstacles such as light poles, benches, walls, even people most of the time.  I found a lot of obstacles the hard way.  Especially those above me.  I have the scars to prove it.  I’ve fallen into holes in ditches, been scratched in the face by branches, and hit by vehicles on two occasions while crossing the street with the signal light in my favor.  However, the key to using a cane without a sighted guide is to move very slowly.  That way you lessen your chances of hurting yourself, someone else, or knocking something over.  I was not very popular with shop owners when I walked into a store! Continue reading »

May is National Guide Dog Month

 Have you ever seen a person who is visually impaired walking around freely with a guide dog at their side and gotten goosebumps at the sight?
Paula Abdul with a Guide Dog

Paula Abdul with a Guide Dog

I have. I love seeing guide dogs around town with their perfect little vests that tell you right away, “I’m more than just a cute dog, I’m an extra special gift to my human companion, here.”

But I never had any idea how much of a gift these dogs really are until now. Continue reading »

Paula Abdul Hosts Guide Dog Graduation Ceremony

Paula and servicemen with their new guide dogs

Paula Abdul and servicemen with their new guide dogs

Yesterday I attended a guide dog graduation ceremony at the Guide Dogs of the Desert, located in Palm Springs, CA. I’ve been to several guide dog graduations in the past but this one was special for a variety of reasons.

First off, all seven of the graduates were US Veterans, two of which are active duty servicemen who lost their sight while serving. The ceremony was hosted by singer and American Idol judge Paula Abdul, and actors Dick Van Patten and his son Jimmy Van Patten of Natural Balance pet food were also at the event. In addition to the graduation, for me, the event was a sort of “kick off” to a partnership between Paula, Natural Balance and PETCO to promote National Guide Dog Month in May.

Continue reading »