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SMHS FFA senior Ariadna Romero, who has spent hundreds of hours raising a puppy for Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB), was proud to see the dog graduate as a guide in a formal ceremony in San Rafael, California.

Romero received her guide dog “Felice” a black Labrador pup in September 2017. She reared and raised it and recently presented it to its blind owner Jordan Fitzpatrick. The dog will now aid him in daily life, including travel.


“This experience has made me appreciative of the person I am and the opportunities I have to help those in need in my community,’’ Romero said. “Raising Guide Dogs, such as Felice, helped me realize that the small change I am making has an immense impact in the lives of many. Now Jordan will have the opportunity to pursue his dream of becoming a psychologist and is able to have all of this is because I wanted to be a part of a change that is often overlooked but is much needed in our community.”


Romero decided that she wanted to raise a guide dog as her Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) project. An SAE project is a component of the student’s grade in all agriculture courses and ranges from work experience and rising livestock animals to research projects and plant production, according to Shannon Powell of the Saint Agricultural Department.


To accomplish her goal, Romero became a member of the local GDB group - Los Padres Guide Dog Puppies. She contributed more than 3,000 hours to her GDB project, which she began her sophomore year. Romero’s job, which involved training and puppy sitting, included bringing the dog to class with her at Santa Maria High School and letting it be a part of her every day activities. She was also responsible for teaching her puppy good manners and basic obedience, as well as introducing it to new experiences.


Felice was born at the GDB’s headquarters in San Rafael and given to Romero to train at about six months old. Felice was returned to GDB for a formal guide work training when she was about 15 months old.


Romero has now raised two guide dogs for the blind and has puppy sat countless other 
guide dogs.


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