The hardest part about raising a puppy for Canine Companions for Independence is not all the training you have to do. It's the day you let the dog go, says Monica Di Nocco, 17, a senior at Oak Ridge High School. She knows she'll be able say goodbye to her first puppy-in-training, 10-month-old, Halo, because she sees the good a companion dog does for her mother, Peggy, who has multiple sclerosis. Before her mom's dog, Felice, came into their life, Monica's spent her teen years helping her mother and worrying about leaving her alone. Felice performs simple yet crucial tasks such as picking things up for Peggy, helping her out of bed or fetching her cell phone. Felice gives Monica freedom and peace of mind.
So she's giving back. "You're raising a miracle for somebody else," she said. "She's kind of like a part of me. I have to put (everything) into her."