A guide dog raised locally has a shot at national recognition, thanks to the 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Awards and, most notably, Victor resident Bonnie Kelly.
Over the last 13 years, Kelly has nurtured and equipped 13 service dogs — seven golden Labradors and six German shepherds — to become guide dogs with the Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Klinger, a 5-year-old German shepherd formerly under Kelly’s care, has since been trained as the first-ever “running guide dog.” And he’s a candidate to receive top honors as American Humane’s American Hero Dog, and in turn earn $5,000 for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
But that’s only if enough votes are cast on his behalf, in the style of TV competitions like “The Voice” or “Dancing With the Stars.”
Klinger’s role is remarkable — his partner, Richard Hunter of California, is a United States Marine Corps veteran and avid runner. But Hunter started losing his sight in 1989 because of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited, degenerative eye disease. Then in 2014, he was struck by a car while riding his tandem bicycle, and airlifted to receive emergency care.