Necco Goes to School

The ninth- and tenth-grade classroom at Lewis County Adventist School, in Chehalis, Wash., accommodates six students with five humans and one canine.

Kelia Cook, a ninth-grade student, is raising and training Necco. Necco is a handsome Golden Lab. He is undergoing training to become a guide dog through the non-profit organization Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. Cook began training Necco in June 2009 when the dog was eight-weeks old.

Necco is in school daily and attends all class field trips including plays and museum visits, where he is a perfect gentleman. Cook and Necco attend bi-weekly meetings to practice important skills including going into stores, lying under tables, taking the stairs and most importantly, ignoring distractions.

It takes work to qualify to raise such a special pup. "I went to three puppy meetings, obedience classes for guide dogs and began studying a detailed manual," says Cook. "Then there was a home visit to make sure it was safe and to check out our animals.

"The hardest part of training a working pup is being consistent," says Cook. "He has to grow up to be calm and focused in order to be a good pair of eyes for a blind person."

Necco will leave in May to start formal training at a guide dog campus in Boring, Ore., where he will learn to walk in harness and to lead a blind person.

Would Cook take on another pup? "Absolutely," she says. "It's a wonderful experience."

April 01, 2010 / Washington Conference