The trained eye
It was with mixed feelings that Anne DeMartini, 13, and her family said goodbye recently to Titan, the puppy Anne has raised for the past 16 months for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
“It was really sad to see him go,” said Anne.
Even Hershey, the DeMartinis’ great dane, will miss him, although it initially took some time for the big dog to adjust to the pup, said Lynne DeMartini, Anne’s mother.
Titan has now gone to Guide Dogs’ San Rafael campus, where he will receive additional training.
Anne got the idea of participating in the program when a friend of hers came to school with a puppy-in-training. Anne went home to sell her parents on the idea.
“It took five minutes of convincing me,” said Lynne, who recognized the huge commitment involved. “I’m glad we did it.”
The whole family helped in Titan’s training, but, Anne said, “It was mostly me and my mom.”
Titan mastered basic commands, such as “sit” and “stay.” He was trained in the green jacket worn by guide dogs when they’re working. When the jacket came off, however, “He was just a normal little puppy, running up and down the house,” Lynne said.
Titan wasn’t the only one who benefited from his training.
“I learned a lot,” said Anne. “I learned how to take care of a dog.”
It was hard work, though, she admitted. “The hardest part was taking him everywhere and having him by your side all the time,” she said.
Titan went with Anne to an ice-skating rink, the mall, on a train and bus, to a ski resort and sporting events. He went to church, school and restaurants.
“He had to get used to everything,” Lynne said, “to be comfortable with each sight, sound, smell.”
“He was awesome in public,” said Anne. “He never really misbehaved.”
All the work was worth it when the DeMartinis realized Titan’s training would some day help a visually impaired person. “It was a neat focus,” said Lynne.
“I’d be glad to do it again,” said Anne. “It was just an awesome experience.”
Nevada County currently has 14 puppies in training, said Lisa McClelland, county leader for Nevada County Paws for a Cause, a program run through the county’s 4-H program.
“It is open to anyone in 4-H, or non-4-H, ages 9 years and older,” she said. “We take adult raisers, too.”
McClelland, with her husband, Jeff, and two children have raised 10 puppies for Guide Dogs.
“It’s a very rewarding program,” she said.
“Anne has been a fabulous raiser,” McClelland said. “Titan is an incredible, handsome dog, and we wish him well with his training.”
Find Out More
For more information about Guide Dogs for the Blind, call (800) 295-4050 or check out http://www.guidedogs.com.
by Marianne McKnight
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