Northwest NEWS

August 31, 1998

Front Page

'Sparkle' added to blind teen's life


Guide dog Sparkle walks comfortably with her new owner, Erin Elliott, after graduation at Oregon's Guide Dogs for the Blind School. Dana Kaminski, who raised Sparkle, is at left.

   by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor

   DUVALL--"Sparkle," a yellow Labrador retriever who grew up greeting customers at DTT's Espresso on Main Street, has graduated from guide dog training where she was paired up with a blind teenager who lives in the Midwest.
   On August 1, after graduation from Guide Dogs for the Blind School in Boring, Oregon, Sparkle went home with Erin Elliott, an 18-year-old high school student from Downer's Grove, Illinois. Sparkle is Erin's first guide dog.
   Sparkle was raised specifically for guide dog work by Dana Kaminski, owner of DTT's Espresso. A green tunic she wore in public identified her as a guide-puppy-in-residence.
   Puppies are adopted by a family when they are about eight weeks old and are raised and trained in the home for more than a year, says Kaminski. They are taken everywhere and are expected to get used to all the distractions a guide dog will face while working.
   Kaminski said the puppies are sent for guide dog training at the Oregon facility when they are about 17 months old.
   "Sparkle was in training for five months," she said. "Volunteers do the work. The recipients are housed and fed during the training course and there is no charge to the recipient for anything."
   Kaminski said it is very emotional to give a dog away that "has been your baby for the last year and a half. But seeing the blind person so appreciative makes it all worthwhile."