MiIRA Dogs

Jennifer Kasunick with Falco, left, and Marie Villaneda with Bear. (Contributed Photos)

Two new graduates completed training this summer and have been paired with guide dogs, according to MIRA USA.

Marie Villaneda, 15, and Jennifer Kasunick, 13, attended Evaluation Weekend in Pinehurst earlier this year where they were approved to attend the four-week Guide Dog School held during the summer in Canada. The dogs — Falco and Bear — are trained to assist these children with navigating safely in public.

The paring of a MIRA guide dog with an eligible child includes extensive evaluation of a child’s ability and need; readiness and mental stability; and assessment of orientation and mobility skills. Once a candidate passes this evaluation, they attend Guide Dog School in a fully equipped facility near Montreal.

Guide Dog School is conducted by MIRA USA’s sister organization, MIRA Canada. The school is an intensive course that teaches important skills, including navigation with a guide dog, dog handling, and general care of the dog. Children are awarded their guide dog upon graduation from Guide Dog School.

Soon after returning home with their guide dogs, MIRA instructors travel from Canada to the children’s hometowns. The instructors acclimate the student and dog to their hometown environment. They also accompany the pair to their grade school in order for them to learn the layout and introduce the school children and staff to guide dog etiquette. MIRA continues to stay in contact with students on a regular basis. Follow-up visits from instructors are offered yearly and additional training sessions are available to students anytime, upon request.

Villaneda and Kasunick are now settling in at home with their guide dogs.

“Bear (Marie’s dog) has been amazing and is helping Marie in so many ways,” said her mother, Julie. “Thank you MIRA USA for this amazing asset to her independence!”

Based in Pinehurst, MIRA USA is a national non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing independence and quality of life for blind children. As the first organization in the United States that provides guide dogs for eligible children between the ages of 11 and 16, the organization provides intensive training for these youngsters and their families free of charge.

MIRA Canada was founded in 1981 and is dedicated to helping disabled individuals by pairing them with dogs bred and fully trained to respond to their adaptation and rehabilitation needs. They concentrate their efforts on improving the functional abilities of individuals, in particular in regard to mobility and orientation, so that they can get around freely in their living environment.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Comments that violate any of the rules above are subject to removal by staff.

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. Subscribe today and support local community journalism.

Digital Only Subscriptions

The Pilot

Get unlimited digital access and support award-winning local journalism, for just $5 a month. This includes access to the electronic replica edition of The Pilot.

Starting at
$5.35 for 30 days

Already have a Print Subscription? Get Digital Access Free.

The Pilot

As a print subscriber, you also have unlimited digital access. Connect your account now. Or, call customer service at 910-693-2487 for help.

 

Our system has been updated, if you are a current print subscriber and cannot obtain your unlimited access, please contact customer support 910-693-2490. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Home Delivery

The Pilot

Our best deal: Get all the news of Moore County delivered to your home each Wednesday and Sunday — and receive unlimited digital access to thepilot.com.

Starting at
$27.82 for 90 days