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SHARING THE LOVE Simone Newar, a sophomore at The Emery/Weiner School, helped raise – and then had to say goodbye to – a service dog.
In April 2017, my dad brought home Zuni, a 2-month-old yellow Lab-Golden Retriever. I fell in love with this playful puppy who, over time, would become my best friend. Unfortunately, from the moment Zuni arrived, I knew that, one day, I would have to give her up.
Zuni belongs to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a non-profit based in California that breeds and trains service dogs for physically and mentally challenged individuals. We were Zuni’s “foster” family, charged with feeding, caring, socializing and training her to perform 20 basic commands. After 18 months in our care, Zuni would return to CCI for intensive training to prepare her to work as a service dog and, hopefully, “match” with a disabled person whom she could assist for the rest of her working life.
Becoming a “foster family” is no easy feat. We first submitted a written application and were interviewed. A veteran foster trainer visited our home and interviewed my parents to ensure that we could properly care for Zuni. Once CCI approved our application, Zuni was flown from CCI’s breeding facility in Santa Rosa to its training facility outside of Dallas. My dad then drove to Dallas and retrieved her.
Raising Zuni was a rewarding experience. Besides our house becoming the favorite place to be, I gained a deeper appreciation for the critical role that service dogs play in the lives of those who are physically and mentally challenged.
Sadly, in November, we had to return Zuni to CCI. My dad and I drove to Las Colinas for Zuni’s “graduation” ceremony. Zuni, along with other service dogs-in-training, received their “diplomas” and matriculated into their professional training course. My dad and I cried many tears throughout the ceremony. But I knew that Zuni was fulfilling the purpose for which she was born and that I was helping improve someone’s life.
I look forward to seeing Zuni help someone who needs her, as I know the immense happiness that she will bring to her new family. Working with Zuni was life-changing.
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