Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) recently welcomed Striker, a two-year old Black Labrador Retriever from the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, to his office to wish the dog well on his upcoming relocation to the Walter Reed Medical Center. Striker will be joined by Sparks, a one-and-a-half-year old Golden Retriever, as both head to the facility to assist veterans returning from active duty as part of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind's VetDogs program.
Striker spent seven months being trained to serve as a service dog and will be partnered with a Navy Corpsman who was injured in Iraq. In this capacity, Striker will assist by helping with balance, retrieving dropped items and fetching. Additionally, to enable the injured veteran to pursue a college degree, Striker has also been trained to carry a backpack full of books.
Sparks is trained as a balance dog and will join the staff of the Walter Reed Medical Center Amputee Rehabilitation Center. The dog is trained to assist returning veterans with their physical therapy and will be an integral part of the rehabilitation process for these men and women. The dog is believed to be one of the first trained for and utilized in this manner.
The dogs were both trained for the past seven months under the guidance of Chief Training Officer R. Michael Sergeant, who was joined by Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Bressler in accompanying Striker to Senator Flanagan's office.
According to their web site, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind has provided guide dogs free of charge to people who seek enhanced mobility and independence since 1946. Due to the fact that the organization operates without government funding, the organization relies on the generous contributions of individuals, corporations, foundations, businesses, and service/fraternal clubs to operate.
Senator Flanagan has been a constant supporter and friend to the Smithtown based foundation and has just recently announced that he will secure $15,000 in state funding to help offset the cost of their important work.
"This wonderful program builds on the historical success and importance of this essential foundation. The dedication of this talented staff is evident in everything they do and enables so many to fulfill their dreams and reach heights that maybe even they thought unreachable," stated Senator Flanagan. "I wish Striker and Sparks the best in their mission and applaud all the volunteers and staff for all they do for the visually impaired."
For more information or to make a donation, residents can either call 631-930-9099 or visit the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind via the Internet atwww.guidedog.org.
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