Saturday, October 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Pup's dilemma: Flyers or Devils?

Sparkle takes in a Flyers-Devils game, joining ranks with other Seeing Eye pups on a special night at the Prudential Center.

Pup's dilemma: Flyers or Devils?

We drove up to Newark on Sunday for a very special Seeing Eye Night at the Prudential Center, where the Flyers took on the Devils. Except for the Flyers' loss, we all had a fine time and Sparkle clearly enjoyed watching the action both on and off the ice.

The Seeing Eye hosted an information booth on the main concourse, under a colorful banner, and its trainers were on hand to greet fans and answer questions. There were also several dozen Seeing Eye pups on hand, getting some great exposure to new experiences.

Sparkle behaved superbly. She wasn't flustered by the crowds and rode the elevator calmly up to our seats. We had some very steep steps to navigate to get to our seats, which were in the second row in the upper balcony. Sparkle paused at the top to get her bearings, then calmly took the steps one at a time till we reached our row.  The seating was very tight, but she tucked herself under my seat and popped her head over the seatback in front of us. Luckily, the seat directly in front of me was empty, and the three youngsters in front of us were delighted to have a pup as company.

Sparkle noticed the loud horn-blaring when goals were scored, and the crowd's chants and cheering, but she was not flustered. On the way back up the stairs after the game, I had one brief scare when she did a 180-degree turn halfway up and was facing the wrong way, back down at the ice. I passed off the backpack to my wife, Cathy, and with one hand gripping the railing, I was able to spin Sparkle back around and get her started again.  Once I got her momentum going, she was actually pulling me along, just as a trained guide dog would.

On the drive home, while Sparkle slept in the back of the minivan, I realized that even though we will dearly miss her, she has matured to the point that she is ready for Seeing Eye training and that her time with us is reaching its logical conclusion. Onward and upward, Sparkle!

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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