Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Archive: March, 2012

POSTED: Friday, March 30, 2012, 11:26 PM

We're headed on Sunday down to Wheaton Village in Millville, N.J., for a puppy outing at the fun-filled Paws for Art day.  There will be a Seeing Eye puppy demo at 11 a.m., and the pups will begin arriving at 10.  It's free and you can even bring your own dog along!

This will be Sparkle's last outing with us before she goes back to the Seeing Eye for training on Tuesday. So if you'd like to meet Sparkle, or any of her puppy pals, head on down to Wheaton Village. Sparkle will be wearing her green vest, and we'll be strolling the grounds at least part of the day. I'll be wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of a German shepherd puppy saying, "I wanna be a Seeing Eye dog when I grow up." (Unless it is raining too hard.)

I'll be sure to post pictures, and of course, I'll give you the scoop on Sparkle's big send-off.   

POSTED: Thursday, March 22, 2012, 11:19 PM

The gorgeous spring weather was beckoning us on Sunday, so after lunch we set off for the grand old seafaring town of St. Michaels, Md., on the Chesapeake Bay.

With light out-of-season traffic, we made it there in just over two hours and breezed into a parking lot right down by the water. Betsy then took Sparkle on a brisk tour around town, starting at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum . We didn't go inside, but strolled around outside, then headed past the docks into the charming downtown.

Sparkle was moving superbly. She's calmed down a lot in the last few weeks and is reliably obedient on the leash. She made numerous street crossings and investigated some things (like a stuffed giraffe) that she hadn't seen before. 

POSTED: Thursday, March 15, 2012, 11:24 PM

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.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 7, 2012, 11:16 PM
Blog Image
Sparkle's life is going to change dramatically in just a couple weeks, but she's blissfully unaware. Here, she and Ernie are catching some cozy afternoon rays through the back door panes on a warm springlike day.

Our area coordinator from the Seeing Eye sent me an e-mail the other day, mentioning among other things that the pups in Sparkle's training class will begin going back to Morristown the week of March 19!  We're very rapidly getting down to the end of our puppy-raising with Sparkle, and the time has just flown by.

A lot of thoughts are going through my head. First of all, she's been doing very well lately. At the puppy meeting last month, she was quite obedient and willing to please in all the training exercises. She is exuberant and excitable, yet calms down quickly when working on the leash. I can definitely see the outline of a guide dog taking shape right in front of me as we walk.

And of course, for all my brave talk about how we will be able to give her back, it is always wrenching. I just told Josh, our 5-year-old, that Sparkle is not staying with us and has to go off to do a very important job for someone who is waiting for her. He just shook his head. I don't think he believes me, or can even comprehend what I'm talking about.

POSTED: Thursday, March 1, 2012, 11:09 PM

Porter, our former Seeing Eye pup and close companion to Sparkle, has had a weight problem for years. At his previous check-up a year ago, his weight had ballooned to a scary 91 pounds. So it was a happy surprise last week when he weighed in at a svelte 74 pounds! I knew he had been slimming down, but I was truly impressed at how much he'd lost.

No doubt it's largely from trying to keep up with Sparkle, our frisky Seeing Eye pup. They romp and play and chase each other every day, and we've been taking long neighborhood walks every morning throughout this blessedly mild winter. We've also had better success in keeping Porter from swiping the people food.

It's great to see a dog who's about to turn 8 in May so energetic and happy, thanks to our girl Sparkle.  

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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