SLD 45 risk analyst embraces a dual role: ensuring public safety while training a guide dog

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dakota Raub
  • Space Launch Delta 45

PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. – Boing! Boing! Boing! The small black labrador retriever discovered the gold spring door stop in his home and can stop pawing at it, leaving him completely mesmerized and entertained.

“He left me no choice but to remove all the door stops because he turned it into a game of ripping them from the wall,” said his owner.

This was Kristen’s first view into the unique personality of her newest guide-dog-in-training, Comet.

Kristen Chiodini-Fowler, Space Launch Delta 45 safety risk analyst, raises guide dogs for the blind while simultaneously ensuring public safety of people, aircraft, and vessels during space launches.

“I support day of launch operations by conducting sea and air surveillance for every launch,” said Chiodini-Fowler. “All while having Comet by my side.”

She brings Comet in the office each day to train him in an environment where he could one day work as a guide dog.

Chiodini-Fowler protects the public while also contributing to society by raising an 8-week old puppy through the Leader Dogs for the Blind program. She has raised two dogs in the past with this program and finds so much joy in watching them learn and grow.

“Everyone I work with knows how much animals mean to me, and knowing this program will help others is very encouraging,” said Chiodini-Fowler. “I think this is a great work/life balance since I get to do what I love while I work.”

Chiodini-Fowler states there have been challenging days in the office but always manages to come out successful.

“My team has been very helpful and encouraging in both my work and training which contributes to Comet’s success,” said Chiodini-Fowler.

Kristen works in an office of approximately 30 people, who love having Comet around and brings smiles to their faces.

“Kristen and Comet definitely bring joy to the office,” said Mark Luek, Chief of safety risk analysis. “I imagine people go directly to Kristen rather than giving her a call, just so they can see Comet.”

Luek says that Kristen is a great and hard working employee who contributes a lot, and having Comet by her side does not change that.

Working with these animals brings her a sense of achievement and a chance for her to contribute back to society.

“I love being involved with the Leader Dogs for the Blind and to make others aware of programs like this,” said Chiodini-Fowler.

Comet will be returned for training in October where he will start on his formal training and be evaluated on his progress. If he passes and makes it through to the end, he will be assigned to a visually impaired person to start his new journey.

“I think Comet will have a bright future,” said Chiodini-Fowler. “After he moves on, my plan is to raise another puppy and keep contributing to having more service dogs in our society. There is always a waiting list for people who need these service dogs so they have confidence in navigating the world.”

Although Comet will move on, Kristen gave him that name so he will always have a little piece of the space community no matter where he is.