It is a well known rule that has been drilled into students since the beginning of our academic careers: pets belong at home, not at school. At San Luis Obispo High School, the same rule applies. Pets have appeared on campus before, but only as a senior prank at the end of the school year. However, this year there is an exception.
Have you seen an adorable, floppy-eared golden retriever-lab mix puppy trotting around campus or dozing in a classroom? This is Milo, service dog in training, who is always accompanied by his owner junior Ciaran Webster. Webster became interested in guide dogs after her grandmother was wounded and lost her sight. In the process of trying to find a dog for her grandmother, Webster came across the Guide Dogs Of America website and the puppy raising program. After applying, her family went through an interview process and home inspection before receiving the news they had been assigned a puppy.
On November 4, 2016, Milo became a part of the Webster family. At the age of 18 months Milo will attend six months of formal training before becoming a certified guide dog. Webster’s job is to raise Milo and go through “general obedience training.”
According to Webster, socialization is one of the most important aspects of his puppy training, which is why Milo gets to come to school.
“He needs to be able to not react to anything that goes on in public because his whole job is to be a calm and steady presence,” said Webster.
Webster admitted it will be extremely difficult to say goodbye to Milo once it’s time for his formal training. However, if Milo passes his exam after training, Webster will travel to a ceremony and present Milo to the blind person he will be guiding.
Since a dog on campus is a rare site, her and Milo get lots of attention from students. Webster said she loves when people come say hi to her and Milo because it is helpful for his socialization, but also because she enjoys explaining the program. When asked if she would want to raise another puppy, Webster said, “without a doubt. I strongly believe in the power animals have to make life a happier experience.”
Milo is a very important part of Webster’s life, and he is a very fun and enjoyable addition to the SLOHS campus. If you see Milo and Webster around, don’t be afraid to say hi!