By Sheyla Torres
The New York Islanders Hockey Club will be raising their third dog for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. Puppy with a Purpose program. The foundation trains puppies to become guides and service dogs to those who need them.
This year’s puppy is Monte, a black Labrador retriever that the team presented in their Pucks and Paws Calendar this season. In past years, the Islanders have also raised a puppy named Radar and another named Tori, both names inspired by past Islanders leaders. Both puppies have undergone training and have become guide dogs.
Back in 2018, the Islanders announced that Radar would be their sponsored pup. After his training, Radar was placed as a guide dog for blind Paralympian swimmer Anastasia Pagonis. The following year the Islanders raised Tori, who was placed with Chris Roberto, a retired U.S. Navy Veteran and New York City Fire Department Lieutenant.
Fans voted to name the puppy Monte, which pays tribute to the Islander’s new home, the UBS Arena. The new arena is in Belmont Park, which has been the Islanders’ new home since November.
The Islanders have also dedicated the profits from their fifth Pucks and Paws Calendar to the Guide Dog Foundation; the calendar is supported by Canidae pet food. Calendars are sold online and at the Islanders’ Pro Shop at the UBS Arena.
Much of the support the Foundation receives on Long Island comes from its partnership with the Islanders. Last year (2021) was the 75th anniversary of the Guide Dog Foundation, which continues to work hard to provide assistance dogs to those who need them, at no cost. According to the Guide Dog Foundation’s official website, the cost to train and place dogs as assistance dogs is $50,000.