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Sunday
May052013

Father to Blind Daughter Runs Marathon Blindfolded for Vision Research

John Foxx/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) – One of the thousands of runners who finished the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday did so without ever seeing the course.

Mike Bruno, 44, ran the 26.2 mile race while blindfolded to raise money for vision research. Bruno’s 7-year-old daughter, Cassie, has been blind since she was born prematurely at 25 weeks.

Cassie weighed only 1 pound 14 ounces when she was born, and had to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit for 114 days before her parents were able to bring her home, her father said.

“In the micro-preemies, the eyes are the last thing to develop and her retinas detached,” Bruno explained, “and that's what happened in her case.”

He decided to run the marathon to raise money and awareness for what his daughter deals with on a daily basis.

Bruno, the Women’s Volleyball coach at Point Park University asked his friend, Point Park cross country coach Jim Irwin, to be his trainer and sighted-guide

Bruno says everyone has been very supportive of his effort.

“The outpouring of support, the kindness, the generosity, has exceeded anything I could have ever imagined,” he said.

After crossing the finish line, Bruno was emotional.

“Really really touched my heart, I think at the age of 44, I don't think I'll ever be able to top this one,” Bruno said. “And you know, if you're going to write your legacy I think that helping others is a great way to do it.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr272012

Oklahoma Blind Dog Gets New Life with Canine Pal

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) -- Putting two dogs of different breeds and from different backgrounds together in a confined space will usually end up in a lot of bark and likely some bite.  Rarely does that pairing end up in the two pooches becoming an inseparable pair.

That latter, more unlikely scenario was just the case, however, with two young dogs in Oklahoma who not only built a friendship but also cured each other’s ills.

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Blair is a 1-year-old black Labrador mix brought to the Woodland West Animal Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., after she was shot while living on the streets.  After he recovered from his wounds, Blair remained at the clinic, a timid and nervous pup whose difficult history made her hard to place with an adopted family, the hospital’s director, Dr. Mike Jones, told ABC News.

Then there was Tanner, a two-year-old Golden Retriever puppy who was born blind and with a seizure disorder so severe he was sent to Woodland Hospital as a last resort after his first owner died and the Oklahoma City-based Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue organization that had assumed his care, was unable to find a family to give him the around-the-clock care he needed.

“His seizure disorder was really, really bad and nothing -- no medications -- seemed to be helping,” Jones said.  “Anytime he [Tanner] seizes he expresses his bowels.  It’s a nightmare anytime you have a 90-lb dog experiencing this nightly; it made living in a home very, very difficult.”

Tanner and Blair lived with their respective conditions until the two were placed together a few months ago in a chance encounter, first reported by local ABC affiliate KTUL.

“One day they were exercising in a play yard together and they got together," Jones said.  “Blair all of a sudden seemed to realize that Tanner was blind and just started to help him around.”

Recognizing the dogs’ immediate connection, hospital staff began to board Tanner and Blair together, and the results spoke for themselves.

Tanner had been seizing almost nightly, Jones said.  ”After two or three weeks, we realized Tanner wasn’t seizing anymore.  He’s not completely seizure free but it’s not constant anymore.”

“We’ve worked with a lot of different service dogs to provide these services for people,” said Jones. “But it’s the first time I’ve seen anything like this, the special relationship these two dogs have.”

The bond is so strong and instinctive that if Tanner has a leash on, Blair will pick it up and guide her friend around, according to Jones.  Likewise, he said, Tanner has had a calming influence on Blair, making the former street dog much less timid and anxious.

The next task is to find the two dogs a home together to continue their joint recovery.

“They absolutely have to be adopted together,” Jones said.  “But it’s going to take a special home with someone who understands their special relationship plus understands seizure disorder and is ready to take on the responsibility.”

The adoption search is being handled by the same Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue organization that brought Tanner to the hospital, a lucky decision that brought on the recovery process no one could have predicted.  The hospital has, to this point, taken care of Blair’s recovery through its own foster care account.

“The big thing about this is just finding the right home for Tanner and Blair, which is a very specific mission,” said Jones.  “This is not a typical adoption.  Tanner is only two-years-old.  We’re looking at probably ten years or so care for Tanner.”

Calls to the Sooner Rescue organization placed Friday by ABC News for comment were not returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio