By Julia Williams
When I first learned of Randy Pierce and his extraordinary Seeing Eye dog known as “the Mighty Quinn,” I was reminded of the old proverb which states, “Faith can move mountains.” In this case, Randy relies on Quinn not to move mountains, but to guide him up them, one precarious, craggy step at a time. Moreover, Randy’s faith in Quinn’s ability to lead him up one of the “Four Thousand Footers” of the White Mountains in New Hampshire led to another lofty goal – the pair would attempt to climb all 48 of those rugged 4000 foot peaks in just five years time!
Climbing the White Mountains Four Thousand Footers is a tall order even for hikers who can see the loose rocks, low-hanging branches, tree roots and other obstacles on the trail. Randy not only depends on the Mighty Quinn to guide him safely around these dangers, but has complete confidence in the dog’s ability to do so. Then again, Quinn, a five-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, is definitely not your average trail guide!
Quinn did not receive any special training as a hiking guide, but according to Randy, he’s demonstrated a natural aptitude for the work. “When I took Quinn to his first mountain, I was astounded with how well he adapted and how much he loved it. The power of that tail wag made it clear this was an adventure he wanted to repeat. We've grown tremendously in skill as a team in managing these mountains, and I'm elated at our achievements,” said Randy.
Randy has pledged to scale all 48 White Mountain peaks to raise awareness and funding for two organizations that have helped him cope with blindness: Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. His newly formed nonprofit, 2020 Vision Quest, aims to “inspire people to reach beyond adversity and achieve their highest goals – personal, professional, and philanthropic.”
Randy, now 44, began to lose his sight at the age of 22 from an unknown neurological disorder. When his first Seeing Eye dog died of cancer, Randy went to Guiding Eyes for the Blind to find a new companion. Quinn’s quick pace and happy spirit was a perfect fit for Randy. A picture of Quinn as a young pup seems to foretell the future – it shows him sitting on stairs with a handwritten note which reads "Stairs...I want to climb Mountains!"
With just one short hiking season under his paws, Quinn has already helped Randy conquer nine of the 48 White Mountain peaks. Randy is optimistic that he and Quinn will be able to finish them all together. “Realistically, there will come a time when climbing is no longer ideal for Quinn, and at that point we'll give him the well-deserved break. That said, there is a high desire to push ourselves in the next few years and get Quinn all of the 48 while he is in the right age and health to enjoy the accomplishment,” said Randy.
CANIDAE Natural Pet Food not only powers Quinn on his tail wagging hikes, it has made him the exceedingly healthy, happy and energetic dog he is. Prior to switching to CANIDAE Grain Free about two years ago, Quinn was plagued with allergies and a recurring intestinal problem that his vet could not diagnose. “Quinn’s health is essential for me as a pet lover first and also for the great work and benefit he brings to my life. We decided to try a change in his food, and the CANIDAE Grain Free came highly recommended. Since that point Quinn has not had another episode, and folks still marvel at the softness of his coat and his overall great health,” said Randy.
Along with feeding him a premium quality holistic pet food like CANIDAE, Randy keeps the Mighty Quinn in tip-top shape by adhering to a strict feeding routine. Quinn eats breakfast at 6 a.m. every morning and dinner at 4:00 p.m. Randy also keeps close tabs on Quinn’s water consumption and adjusts it according to the weather and their work schedule. “His weight, energy levels and food consumption are things I monitor very closely to ensure him the healthiest and best life possible,” said Randy. “When climbing, I spent some time exploring the best adjustment to his feeding because like a human hiker consumes tremendously more calories on a hike, so too does the marvelous Mighty Quinn.”
There really is no such thing as an “ordinary” Guide Dog. The dedication and help these amazing canines give their human companions in need is immeasurable. Yet the exuberant and steadfast way the Mighty Quinn guides Randy Pierce on his peak-conquering quest makes him extraordinary in my eyes. I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look into the life of Quinn and Randy. You can read more about Quinn on his blog (yes, he’s another blogging dog), or follow him on Twitter.
Photos courtesy of 2020 Vision Quest
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