New Seeing Eye puppy

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Sparkle settled right in at our house, choosing to nap in Porter's crate. Porter doesn't mind sharing at all, unless it involves food in any way. Here, Porter is very attentive, not to protect the new pup, but to listen for a can opener, the rustling of a dog-food bag or the sound of the leash coming off the hook for a nice long walk.

Meet Sparkle! She's just a baby, born Jan. 27. She's a Labrador/golden retriever cross, specially bred by the Seeing Eye to someday guide blind or visually impaired people. My family and I are raising her in our Philadelphia-area home until she is about 15 months old. Then Sparkle will travel to Seeing Eye headquarters in Morristown, N.J., for formal training.  She's happy, enthusiastic, but impulsive and sometimes mischievous, like any other pup. She needs constant attention and careful guidance.    In our home, there are two other dogs. Porter is the first Seeing Eye pup we raised. He is 7 years old this month. He did not complete the in-harness training, and we had the opportunity to adopt him. Timber, our senior dog, is a golden retriever who originally came from the animal shelter as a very young pup. He will be 14 years old this August. We also have two cats from the shelter, Benny and Ernie. It's been a challenge so far to keep Sparkle from tussling with the cats as she would with her littermates. Being cats, they are not into that sort of rough-housing.

    There’s a special joy for us in raising Sparkle. She is from the first litter of Velma, the previous Seeing Eye pup we raised.  In training, Velma was judged to be “among the best of the best” and was selected for the breeding program. Velma was a sweet pup who learned quickly and showed great confidence and poise in our treks around the neighborhood and way beyond. We are so proud of Velma for what she has achieved and her large litter of bright-eyed pups!

   We belong to a local puppy-raising club affiliated with the Seeing Eye and will be attending monthly meetings, the highlight of which is a puppy-circle training session. My daughter Betsy, a high school junior, is the chief puppy-raiser. Mom Cathy and I round out the crew.

   Let’s get going. We've got lots of ground to cover in the next year-and-a-half. 

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