Monday, February 8, 2016

New Seeing Eye puppy

This young puppy comes with great expectations. She's being raised by a local family to be a Seeing Eye dog, and we'll be right with her step by step as she learns what she needs to know to return for formal training as a guide.

New Seeing Eye puppy


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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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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