Who Let the Dogs Out?

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Pace Hall’s newest resident has everyone on their toes because she is down on four legs. Marty, the yellow lab puppy being raised by me, Abbie Kellett, and Melissa Pisarski, will be waltzing through the halls for the next 12 months while she learns the basic commands that will become the foundation for her training as a guide dog.

Marty came from Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Florida where she and her siblings were matched with puppy raisers like us and sent home to gain socialization skills, learn manners, and collect some maturity before coming back to the school for formal training. More information on the process can be found on Southeasternguidedog.org.

Since Marty loves making friends and socialization is an important key to the process, anyone is welcome to come up and greet Marty when we are not working on obedience (one of us would tell you). But since she’s not just a pet and will eventually become a working dog, there are some rules that everyone that wants some puppy love should be aware of:

  • Like everyone, Marty has bad days where she’s stressed and overwhelmed. PLEASE ask before you come up to greet her so I can tell you how I think she’s feeling. This is a good general rule for all dogs.
  • We will use our discretion when it comes to greetings. If a group comes up and starts to riot for the puppy’s attention, she will be removed. We are not trying to be rude, but the puppy is our first concern.
  • Marty needs to be focused on her handler and just like you wouldn’t give food to a working guide dog, please don’t give Marty food. She will love you but I won’t be happy.
  • Tell her she’s pretty. She knows, but likes to hear it anyway.
  • Keep her on all fours when she’s greeting you. It’s cute now when she jumps on you, but when she’s a big 70 lb girl, it’ll hurt.
  • Please don’t litter. Especially cigarette butts. She’s addicted and will sneak them at the first opportunity. They’re bad enough for you, but they can kill a small puppy. Until the campus is smoke-free, let’s keep it cigarette-butt free.
  • Otherwise, we’re never in too much of hurry to refuse some ears scratches, and Marty would love to meet you!

I’ve had Marty for about three weeks and absolutely love her. University of Florida has a puppy-raising club, and if we could implement a program like that on our campus, we could really make a difference by putting more guide dogs into society. Stay tuned for more updates on Marty and a possible club emergence. If you want any more information on the process, please feel free to email me, akk6@students.uwf.edu or Melissa, mmp34@students.uwf.edu

By: Abbie Kellett, Sophmore

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