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KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.

Many Service Animals Are Out Of Work, Too: Here's How My Dog Guide Is Adapting

afton_and_payton.jpg
Afton Harper
/
KSMU

Many people are out of work right now as schools and businesses are shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But that means many service animals are unable to work, too.

Around three weeks ago, my dog guide, Payton, and I traveled home to Kansas City for spring break. Since the pandemic, we haven’t left the house other than for walks around the block because of a shelter-in-place order.

Payton's a four-year-old Golden Labrador Retriever. Normally, he gets a lot of exercise walking to my classes, but that's changed since all of my classes at Missouri State University have been moved online. 

The organization Leader Dogs for the Blind has issued some tips for dog guide handlers on how to keep their dogs active. The group recommends regular obedience training and finding interactive toys to keep the dogs stimulated. I've bought Payton new chew toys.

However, Payton gets bored of old toys and it's hard right now to get any supplies in a timely fashion. Most of my Amazon orders take around a week to be delivered and Walmart trips are next to impossible with how hectic stores are.

We're both looking forward to the day we can come back to campus and to the radio station after these abnormal times have passed.  

In the meantime, Payton will be doing a few normal activities, like eating, staying hydrated, and taking walks around the neighborhood.

According to the National Federation of the Blind website, Missouri was home to 153,900 visually impaired residents in 2016.

Afton Harper is a journalism student at Missouri State University. She works as a staff reporter for her college newspaper, The Standard, and is an intern reporter at KSMU. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her dog guide Payton and snapping macro photos
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