The Guide Dog Foundation: Radar and Anastasia

In 1946, when the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind was founded, its mission was simple: to provide guide dogs and training – free of charge – to people who were blind or visually impaired. 

Radar is one of many amazing dogs in the Guide Dog Foundation's program, trained to help incredible people like his handler, Anastasia. 

How old is Radar and what is a brief background/story about him?

Radar is a four-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever. In 2018, Radar began his journey to become a guide dog with the New York Islanders as the team’s first Puppy with a Purpose. Radar found his purpose in 2020, when he was teamed with Anastasia Pagonis, a 17-year-old Olympic gold medalist swimmer for Team USA.

What type of work does Radar do and what makes him special?

Radar was specially trained to be teamed with Anastasia. During his training with the Guide Dog Foundation, Radar learned how to lead in a straight line, find and follow a clear path, maneuver around obstacles (both on the ground and overhead), stop at changes in elevation, such as curbs and stairs and how to be extremely well behaved when in public places.

Can you explain Radar's opportunity of being the Puppy With a Purpose with the New York Islanders?

During his time as the ‘Puppy With a Purpose’ with the New York Islanders, Radar attended games, events, and experienced other unique environments with the team as a part of his training that helped to mold him into a confident guide dog.

 Does Radar have any health issues himself (arthritis, joint predispositions etc).

Our dogs are bred for personality but also being able to medically trace their health. He does not have any health issues (otherwise he wouldn’t be in our program), however the Big Barker beds provide a safe, comfortable, snuggly spot for him to rest after a long day of training.

The bed will also be used as a training object to train the cue “place” where we train our dogs to target a specific spot where a client can tell their guide dog to go to if folks come to the door, opening an oven, etc. A safe space where the client knows they are out of the day of any potential danger.

What are some of Radar favorite things to do/eat/etc?

Since Anastasia is a professional swimmer, Radar loves joining Anastasia at the pool! Anastasia also loves to make TikTok videos for her followers on social media and Radar can often be seen as the co-star. You can follow Anastasia and Radar on Instagram and TikTok @anastasia_k_p.

If Radar could tell the world one thing, what do you believe it would be?

Radar would say to never give up. Anastasia began to lose her vision at 11-years-old due genetic retina disease and autoimmune retinopathy. However, she did not let that stop her from pursuing her dream to become an elite athlete. Once Radar was placed with Anastasia, he gave her a sense of freedom to do things independently. This new independence helped lead her to break her own world record and win the United States’ first gold medal of the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021.

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