Schools Welcome MIRA Guide Dogs
The students in Moore County have been back in the classroom for a number of weeks now, and for the most part it has been business as usual.
In two schools, however, New Century Middle School and Sandhills Community College, the students are sharing their classrooms for the first time with very special guests: the MIRA guide dogs devoted to protecting and guiding their blind owners Samantha Duerring, of Vass, and Aldevon (AJ) Johnson, of Carthage.
These special canines, Gale and Martin, have arrived in Moore County thanks to the tremendous ongoing support of the professionals at Carolina Eye Associates on Midland Road. Over the last two years, donations from Carolina Eye have enabled MIRA USA to pair three dogs with deserving students.
"When Carolina Eye presented us with a substantial donation the second year in a row, we wanted to do something special to recognize their generous support, and everyone agreed that it would be a wonderful gesture to name the two Moore County dogs after Dr. Robert Gale Martin, the founder of Carolina Eye Associates, who succumbed to cancer in 2008," says Beth Daniels, MIRA's executive director.
Gale and Martin represent a special breed of dog known as the St. Pierre, which was developed by MIRA Canada's Founder and CEO, Eric St. Pierre. He and his organization have received global recognition for their contributions to improving the lives of the physically and emotionally challenged population. The St. Pierre breed is the result of 10 generations of crossing carefully selected bloodlines of the Swiss origin Bernese Mountain dog with the Labrador retriever. St. Pierres are noted for their calm dispositions, loyalty, high intelligence and trainability.
As the MIRA dogs assimilate into their new lives and their roles as two of an elite group of dogs in the United States, members of the Sandhills community are encouraged to welcome them by greeting their owners, while respecting the dogs' working status, which requires that they not be spoken to or touched while in harness and without express permission from their owners.
MIRA Foundation USA is a national nonprofit organization based in Aberdeen, dedicated to providing guide dogs to blind children and youth between the ages of 11-17. To learn more about MIRA USA, visit www.mirausa.org.
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