MONTVILLE, NJ – Bonnie DiCola, the Cedar Hill Elementary School nurse, is currently training Bailey, the Montville Township Public School’s fifteenth Seeing Eye puppy. Last year’s puppy, Milo, completed his training on Friday, Oct. 17, in Morristown.
“Milo did a fantastic job during his Morristown Town Walk, wearing his harness,” DiCola said.
DiCola, who is, understandably, quite attached to each Seeing Eye puppy she has trained, made certain she was in Morristown at 1:30 on October 17 to watch Milo take the very important Town Walk. It is the Town Walk which determines if a Seeing Eye dog has successfully completed the training and is eligible for placement.
As DiCola knows from thirteen prior walks, due to protocols in the Seeing Eye training, the nurse was only able to observe Milo’s “graduation” walk from afar. However, she was a proud as any mother-of-a-graduate could be.
Milo completed his training with honors and was matched with a blind person on October 27. His achievement marks the fourteenth Seeing Eye dog that Cedar Hill Elementary School has successfully trained and ushered through to placement.
“My dogs are well trained service dogs,” DiCola said, “because they are working all the time. Every day, here at school, with the children, the dogs learn how to listen and take commands. Our dogs are docile. There are a lot of distractions, but the dog knows what to do. And the children know what to do. They love the dogs, and the dogs take care of the children.”
Along with the school’s 339 students, Bailey, the school’s fifteenth Seeing Eye puppy, is currently beginning the third month of school and has successfully completed the first marking period at Cedar Hill. In the spring Baily will also say good-bye to Cedar Hill and begin final training. If all goes as planned, Baily will also be matched with a blind person next October. DiCola plans to attend Baily’s Town Walk next fall.
While each spring it is hard for the students and staff of Cedar Hill to say good-bye, DiCola and the school remain dedicated to the on-going goals of the Seeing Eye program. For the students, participating in the training of a Seeing Eye dog builds self-esteem and promotes empathy for others. And, students and dogs love working together.