Thomas Panek – C.E.O. and president of a guiding eye school in New York – is a blind runner who lost his sight in his early twenties. Since he lost his sight in his twenties, he has always had to use people as guides to direct him through races. In the back of his mind he always wanted to use a seeing-eye dog to help him through races, but no school had ever trained a dog to run. Since the running-seeing-eye-dog didn’t exist, Panek decided to make a program that trained these specific dogs himself. Now over twelve seeing eye dogs trained to run have graduated from the program that Panek created.
- Thomas Paneck is a runner who lost his sight and wanted to see if guide dogs could assist with long distance running
- Not all dogs enjoy the distance running and only those who do receive extra training
- Panek hopes to set standards and practices so others can run races with a guide dog
“Two dozen running guide dogs have graduated so far, with a long waiting list for more. None of these certified running guide dogs has yet to take part in a race, but on Oct. 29 Mr. Panek and Gus hope to reach this milestone when they run the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff, a five-mile race in Central Park, without human assistance.”