Thursday, April 17, 2008

Retirement party set for beloved guide dog

Kevin Coughlin and Ruger

1010 WINS radio in New York City had a fitting news story on April 15 about the retirement of guide dog, Ruger, who has assisted Kevin Coughlin, 46, of Manhattan, to safely navigate the city for nine years.

Coughlin, who is blind, has to say goodbye Ruger on April 18 because of the yellow lab’s age means it's time for him to retire. Manhattan's St. Agnes Church is honoring Ruger the evening of April 17 for his years of service.

Full disclosure: I know Kevin and Ruger, but I think it's fitting to say thanks to such an important service animal. Many blind people face discrimination because some in society don't understand how well-trained guide dogs are and that they can't be barred from businesses, etc.

Kevin fought against discriminatory practices against guide dogs when a NY City coffee bar wouldn't let he and Ruger in. He won a small settlement, which he donated to the New York Guide Dog Users Association for the purposes of education.

Kevin now does motivational speaking about access for blind people and the life lessons he's learned from his sudden blindness at age 36. Here's a story The New York Times did about Kevin in 2004. To book Kevin as a speaker, contact him at