According to Ann Rina, the NHL team’s director of community relations, “basically a significant chunk of what the first few months of guide dog training entail are socializing the puppy and teaching them to new things.” What better way to accomplish that? Why not? We have a captive audience of 15,000 spectators in our arena.
But the NHL team always knew that Radar, an adorable Labrador puppy who served as their team mascot during the season, would grow up to help other athletes. The season was so successful that the players are now raising a second puppy for America’s VetDogs, an organization that trains guide dogs for veterans.
Through these creatures, who significantly improve the lives of others, “our organization can make a difference in someone’s life,” stated Rina. “We’re discussing fostering someone’s independence. We support that and will continue to offer our assistance.
Radar, who has developed into a full-fledged service dog, has been matched with a blind adolescent who was preparing for the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. Anastasia Pagonis, an 18-year-old swimmer, described her new service dog, who now goes with her to practice, as “actually fantastic” and “the smartest dog in the world.” He’ll just relax there while sitting on the edge of the deck.
When Pagonis was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that resulted in a widening blind spot at the age of 11, she initially started losing her eyesight. The young woman decided to start swimming when her blindness forced her to give up playing soccer. She took to the sport so easily that she now hopes to compete in Tokyo alongside Radar and the rest of the American Paralympic team.
“I frequently find myself in a box. I’m told that I can’t do this and put it in a box. Pagonis told PEOPLE, “I can’t do that. “I just think that blindness has such a reputation that you have to look a certain way, act a certain way, and you can’t be a professional athlete, apply cosmetics, or dress up. Simply be the person they want you to be.
However, having Radar by her side has allowed the New Yorker to reclaim some of the self-assurance and independence she had previously lost due to her condition. The teen athlete claimed, “Honestly, I couldn’t be like my own person and so now that I have him, I feel so autonomous.” “With him, I’m going to conquer the globe.”