OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A Coast businesswoman has made a year and a half long commitment that will ultimately help a person she will likely never meet. She has volunteered to raise and train a puppy to become a guide dog.
It's a huge commitment, but it's one KC Arnold was more than willing to add to her busy schedule. She is what's known as a "puppy raiser" for the Southeastern Guide Dogs organization based in Palmetto, FL.
Arnold is known by many in the community as a passionate nurse practitioner and diabetes educator, but she still manages to take time out of her busy schedule each day to work with five month old Quincy. He is a black lab puppy Arnold has been raising for several months.
We caught up with Arnold and Quincy at Rouse's in Ocean Springs, a perfect place for training, because young Quincy needs to learn how to behave in busy environments.
"He has to stay focused and learn basic commands like sit, down and stay, and to be good with handling loud noises and with meeting people," explained Arnold.
This pup is bred specifically to become a service dog to help the blind or disabled lead more normal, independent lives.
"This dog is bred for this mission. The breeding is very scientific, focusing on intelligence and obedience. I've never had a lab that would stay still like this at my feet at five months," said Arnold.
She will teach Quincy basic commands and socialization skills until he's about 18 months old. That's when the dog will return to the Southeastern Guide Dogs School in Florida, where it can move ahead with its new, life changing career as a guide or service dog for someone with disabilities.
"That's where they put the harness on and take him to the next level," said Arnold.
The goal is to have him placed in a home by the time he's two years old. It all starts with puppies like Quincy and volunteers like Arnold.
"Sit, Quincy. Good boy," she says as she gives Quincy a loving pat on the head.
She says it won't be easy to say goodbye to Quincy when the time comes, but she knows that's his purpose, and she's happy to be a part of the process.
"You sign that contract and know from the beginning that you're giving him away, but it's to help someone. This is a great program," said Arnold.
The Southeastern Guide Dogs School has given away more than 2,800 trained dogs to people with disabilities since 1982. Those lives are forever changed through the partnership.