Thursday, July 10, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Sparkle is on her way!

Nearing the end of training, Sparkle is preparing for her graduation Town Walk.

Sparkle is on her way!

When we attended a Seeing Eye puppy-raiser gathering in Morristown last month, they had baby pictures available! Here´s our Sparkle.
When we attended a Seeing Eye puppy-raiser gathering in Morristown last month, they had baby pictures available! Here's our Sparkle.

We've received several Sparkle updates recently, but the big one came in the mail yesterday! In a letter to my daughter Betsy, the Seeing Eye says that Sparkle is ready for her Town Walk next month. The Town Walk is a graduation of sorts, in which the puppy-raiser discreetly follows the budding Seeing Eye dog and her trainer around Morristown. Sparkle will act as the guide dog for the trainer as they navigate streets and traffic and any obstacles they encounter in the very busy town. 

The Seeing Eye's letter reads in part: "I am very pleased to report that Sparkle exhibits above average capability and willingness in her training and at this time Sparkle shows great potential as a guide dog."

I did speak briefly with Sparkle's trainer, Brooke, last month, and she said they were working on one problem: Sparkle was stopping to "mark" or relieve herself along the route when they were working. Let's hope she's gotten safely past that.  Brooke also sent a postcard about two weeks ago in which she said Sparkle was doing well, but they were  working to overcome the "park time" problem.  "Park time" is the command that the handler uses to get the dog to relieve herself before heading out onto the walk.

I called the Seeing Eye yesterday and set up the date for Sparkle's Town Walk. It's Sept. 10!

George Carter
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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