Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sparkle in the lead

Sparkle, our former Seeing Eye pup, navigates like a pro through the traffic-heavy streets of Morristown, N.J.

Sparkle in the lead


Sparkle absolutely wowed me Thursday at her Town Walk on the busy streets of Morristown, N.J. Her walk was the culmination of five months of training since she left our home for the Seeing Eye.

She guided her trainer, Brooke Donaldson, around obstacles and through traffic while I trailed along behind, often across the street, with a Seeing Eye volunteer leading me and giving me the running narrative. As intended, Sparkle did not notice me. I needn't have worried about that -- she was way too focused on her job.  

At one point, I could see a car backing out of a  brushy alley in front of Brooke and Sparkle, since I was across the street. The driver did not notice them, and Brooke said later she had no idea the car was there. But Sparkle promptly "checked" when she became aware of the car and brought herself and Brooke to a smooth halt. I was absolutely thrilled and so proud to see her in action.  Betsy, who is three weeks into her college career in Rhode Island, was unable to join me, but I know she would have been so proud too to see what a great dog Sparkle has become. I promptly texted her after the walk to let her know how our little girl did.

What's next?  There's a new class of Seeing Eye students coming in right now, and they will each be matched with the dog that trainers think will best fit them. The guide dog and student will train together at the Seeing Eye and then go off into the world together. Since there are 40 dogs in the "pool" right now, and 20 students coming in, many of the dogs will wait for the next round.  Due to privacy policy, I won't know very much about Sparkle's new owner. I do know it's going to be one very lucky person!  

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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

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