Puppy practices at High School

Miranda Robertson, a Sequim High School junior, took Candace, a guide dog in training, to classes with her this past week. She said the experience went well and she hopes to do it again. Sequim Gazette photos by Matthew Nash

One special canine got a crash course in high schoolers this past week.

Candace, a puppy in training for the Guide Dogs for the Blind program, went to school for one week with Sequim High School junior Miranda Robertson.

Deb and Tom Cox of Sequim have been training Candace until a recent trip called them out of town. They offered Robertson a chance to puppy-sit while they were gone.

“It’s been interesting,” she said.

The change required some footwork on the Robertson’s part.

She needed permission slips from all of her teachers before bringing the dog to school.

“Some teachers were skeptical but once they met (Candace), they changed their minds.”

Over the school intercom, an announcement was made that students should not pet the dog because of her training regime.

Guide dogs require a wide variety of stimuli to prepare them for situations and sounds they might encounter when leading a visually impaired individual.

During this training, it can be distracting for a dog learning to stay focused on its surroundings if people keep throwing it off course.

“Everyone’s responded pretty well.

“It was hard for her and the kids the first day but it got better every day.”

Response from students was mostly congratulatory toward Robertson. They said she was lucky and wished they could bring their dogs to school.

Candace could be the lucky pup in a short time.

Candace was sent to Bend, Ore., on Thursday, Oct. 22, for the final guide dog training program.

If Candace passes the training, she can be partnered with a visually impaired person.

In a few weeks, the Coxes and Robertson will know Candace’s future.

This wasn’t the first guide dog handling experience for Robertson. She has spent several weekends puppy-sitting for the Puppy Pilots, a local group of guide dog puppy raisers.

“I hope to do it again,” she said about the recent experience with Candace.

Robertson’s enthusiasm spread to some other students who requested information on puppy-sitting.

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