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West Sand Lake teenager uses guide dog for running

Kumi Tucker
Updated: September 29, 2020 08:56 PM
Created: September 29, 2020 05:22 PM

TROY - Megan Hale is on the track team at Hudson Valley Community College. She says running with her guide dog Hero gives her more flexibility and freedom.

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Before college, Megan was on the Averill Park track team starting in 8th grade. 

"Hero was actually my 16th birthday present from Guiding Eyes.  Most 16-year-olds get a car.  I got Labra-ghini," said Hale, with a laugh. 

She was matched with Hero through Guiding Eyes for the Blind. 

Hero is wearing running shoes, and also a special harness adapted for running. 

Hale likes the ability to run whenever she feels like it.

"Sometime, a lot of the time, I do leisure running. And it's just nice to pick up the harness and say you know, I don't want to walk anymore, let's go take a jog." 

She doesn't have to teach other people how to run with her, or meet up with them during the pandemic. 

"I think it would be more difficult to try to run six feet apart, make sure they're safe, make sure they're staying quarantined. It's a lot to ask from a human, versus a dog where it's just pick it up and go," said Hale.  

"It's great to see them running in sync together," said Kate Garner of Guiding Eyes for the Blind. "He's doing his job, she's doing her job by reading when he's turning, how fast he's running. So it's great to see a unified team."

Gardner is the puppy program regional manager and a former trainer.

"A good guide dog is versatile, they adapt to the person's environment, they're hard-working, very food motivated. They love to work for their treats," she said. 

The non-profit relies on donations to raise, train, and match dogs, so there is no cost to people who are blind or visually impaired. 

Megan believes fitness is for everyone, and plans to get her masters to teach adaptive physical education. 

Megan says she discovered running at Camp Abilities many years ago, where she used to be a camper and is now a counselor.


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