Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Stuff in TEC: West Virginia

Apple dumplings for a cause

Apple is a Black Lab. Smoldering eyes and a seemingly built-in intuition offset her puppy antics. She'd still love to frolic all day and vie for the attention of the nearest playmate, but Apple is destined for more important work. Funded in part by last year's Apple Festival (hence, the pup's name) at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Morgantown, she is being trained to become a service dog for an owner who has a physical or cognitive disability.

Martha and Arden Musselman of Elverson, signed on for a year-long commitment with Canine Partners for Life to train Apple to be a service dog. To say it is a full-time job minimizes the scope of the Musselman's charge, since preparing Apple for a life of service is more like a round-the-clock job. Apple accompanies her trainers everywhere, to sharpen her socialization skills and expose her to all of the everyday situations she willexperience as a service dog. The Musselmans explained that Apple goes shopping with them, tags along to soccer games, visits museums and restaurants and puts in a full day at the office with Martha. She even vacationed with her trainers during a recent trip to Cape May. The four-month old puppy will be trained for a year, and will then be partnered with an owner who can enjoy the benefits of life with a service dog.

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