Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Going nose-to-nose

A precocious pup gets acquainted with the farm fair crowd.

Going nose-to-nose

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Keith shows he's plenty curious and confident in making new friends wherever he goes. It's a great trait for a future Seeing Eye dog. Photo courtesy of Robin Brelsford.

I've borrowed another picture of Keith (the golden retriever who's seen squeezing through the puppy gate in an earlier post). This time he's in action at the Cumberland County Farm Fair, meeting a cow.

County fairs are great places to take the Seeing Eye pups, for all the exposure they get to people and the other animals they may not be familiar with. We also get a lot of great questions about puppy-raising from other fair-goers. Never be reluctant to ask us a question. That's part of our mission, to raise awareness of the future guide dog's training and mission. Our puppy-raiser club puts on a demo every year at the Gloucester County 4-H Fair and staffs an information booth with pups on hand.

Keith's encounter with the cow reminds me of when we took Porter, our Lab pup,  to the Cook College agricultural expo back in 2005. Daughter Betsy and I walked him all over the place, introducing him to every farm animal we could find. When we walked up to a pen full of piglets, Porter peered in, just as a curious piglet came up to the wall and gazed back at him. Struck by the obvious similarity between pup and piglet, Betsy announced that she was becoming a vegetarian. She did -- and still is. We may be training these pups, but they are also shaping us!

George Carter
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About this blog
George Carter, The Inquirer's weekend national/foreign editor, has always counted dogs among his closest companions. According to family lore, he learned to walk by clinging to the side of a saintly patient mutt named Spanker. In turn, one of his earliest hazy memories is of tossing treats to the family dogs gathered expectantly on the porch of their Maryland farmhouse. It was only natural then, that when George saw a newspaper ad looking for families to raise puppies for the Seeing Eye of Morristown, N.J., he bit at the chance. From the start, it has been a family project, with teenage daughter Betsy as the official puppy-raiser. First there was Porter, a big-hearted yellow Lab born on Memorial Day 2004. A few years later, the Carters raised Velma, a gorgeous Lab/golden cross. Just a couple weeks ago, Velma's 7-week-old daughter Sparkle arrived as the latest family charge. George, Betsy and mom Cathy are thrilled that Sparkle is from Velma's very first litter. You can reach George Carter at 215-854-2411 or by clicking here. Reach George at gcarter@phillynews.com.

George Carter
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