ORRVILLE, Ohio, Sept. 21, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- In honor of the 10-year anniversary of National Guide Dog Month, Natural Balance® premium pet food brand partnered with three-time Paralympic Medalist and guide dog handler, Danelle Umstead, to celebrate guide dogs' accomplishments with a one-of-a-kind retirement party. As a longtime supporter of guide dog schools and the founder of National Guide Dog Month, Natural Balance honored seven remarkable animals and their handlers in Los Angeles on September 20, 2018.
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Umstead, a Para-Alpine ski racer and Natural Balance brand partner, understands the remarkable relationships between guide dogs and their handlers. At age 13, Umstead was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a retinal degenerative disease that eventually causes complete blindness. She was first paired with guide dog Bettylynn through Guide Dogs for the Blind in 2008. Bettylynn retired in 2013 and still resides with Umstead and her family. Her current guide dog Aziza, a six-year-old Labrador Retriever, was in attendance at the event. Aziza works to help Umstead navigate through life safely – whether she is crossing the street, dancing, or training for the upcoming ski season.
"I'm thrilled to partner with Natural Balance for the second year to celebrate National Guide Dog Month and co-host their first guide dog retirement party," said Umstead. "My relationships with my current and retired guide dogs, Aziza and Bettylynn, are truly special. I depend on Aziza to get me around safely, so it is important that I feed her a diet that allows her to be healthy and alert. I love that Natural Balance has the quality ingredients that I look for and she loves."
The guests of honor were seven life-changing guide dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind who each hung up their harness earlier this year to enjoy retired life with their forever family. Each dog in attendance was presented with a retirement package from Natural Balance premium pet food brand, including a certificate recognizing their years of service and awarding them with a 401-K9—a lifetime supply of Natural Balance pet food as a token of appreciation for their years of service.
Honored at the event were:
- Anja, a 10-year-old Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, served eight and a half years as a guide dog
- Balsam, a 10-year-old Labrador Retriever, served eight years as a guide dog
- Bettylynn, a 12-year-old Labrador Retriever, served five years as a guide dog
- Columbus, a 13-year-old Labrador Retriever, served ten and a half years as a guide dog
- Derica, a nine-year-old Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, served eight years as a guide dog
- Elbert, a 12-year-old Labrador Retriever, served eight-and-a-half years as a guide dog
- Peggysue, an 11-year-old Labrador Retriever, served eight-and-a-half years as a guide dog
"The Natural Balance brand is proud to honor the unique bond between guide dogs and their handlers. Our commitment started after our co-founder, Dick Van Patten, visited a local guide dog school. After learning about the costs, dedication and commitment needed to raise and train guide dogs, he was inspired to support the cause and founded National Guide Dog Month," said Keo Khounborin, brand director. "A decade later, we're proud to continue his legacy and celebrate the unique and rewarding partnership between guide dogs and those they support."
Natural Balance has donated $6 million in dog food and resources to guide dog schools to-date, including its longstanding partner, Guide Dogs for the Blind. The non-profit organization is the largest guide dog school in North America and aims to empower lives by creating exceptional partnerships between people, dogs and communities.
To learn more about Natural Balance and National Guide Dog Month, visit NaturalBalanceinc.com/GuideDogs.
About The J.M. Smucker Company
For more than 120 years, The J.M. Smucker Company has brought families together to share memorable meals and moments. Guided by a vision to engage, delight, and inspire consumers through trusted food and beverage brands that bring joy throughout their lives, Smucker has grown to be a well-respected North American marketer and manufacturer with a balanced portfolio of leading and emerging, on-trend brands. In consumer foods and beverages, its brands include Smucker's®, Folgers®, Jif®, Dunkin' Donuts®, Crisco®, Café Bustelo®, R.W. Knudsen Family®, Sahale Snacks®, Smucker's® Uncrustables®, Robin Hood®, and Bick's®. In pet food and pet snacks, its brands include Rachael Ray® Nutrish®, Meow Mix®, Milk-Bone®, Kibbles 'n Bits®, Natural Balance®, and Nature's Recipe®. The Company remains rooted in the Basic Beliefs of Quality, People, Ethics, Growth, and Independence established by its founder and namesake more than a century ago. For more information about our Company, visit jmsmucker.com.
The J.M. Smucker Company is the owner of all trademarks referenced herein, except for the following, which are used under license: Dunkin' Donuts® is a registered trademark of DD IP Holder LLC, and Rachael Ray® is a registered trademark of Ray Marks Co. LLC.
Dunkin' Donuts® brand is licensed to The J.M. Smucker Company for packaged coffee products sold in retail channels such as grocery stores, mass merchandisers, club stores, and drug stores. This information does not pertain to Dunkin' Donuts® coffee or other products for sale in Dunkin' Donuts® restaurants.
About Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide Dogs for the Blind is more than an industry-leading guide dog school; it is a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. With exceptional client services and a robust network of trainers, puppy raisers, donors, and volunteers, Guide Dogs for the Blilnd prepares highly-qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision. All of its services are provided free of charge. Guide Dogs for the Blind receives no government funding. Guide Dogs for the Blind has graduated more than 14,000 guide teams since its founding in 1942. Currently, more than 2,200 active guide teams are in the field. For more information about Guide Dogs for the Blind, visit www.guidedogs.com.
SOURCE J.M. Smucker Company