Assessment weekend at Mira USA in NC, the last weekend in April.
This first picture is of Calli, with Eric St. Pierre, founder of Mira Quebec. In the background is Preston, getting his first dog before heading off to college this fall and Ian, who works at Mira. Calli is working here with Keesha, a smaller dog. Keesha is a sweet, gentle lady like dog who doesn;t actually fit Calli's personality but Calli is shorter than Preston, so she was working with the shorter dog. Preston was working with Nahnoo, who was better suited to Calli but he was taller, so Preston worked with him. Calli needs a dog who is faster and more energetic.
Here're Calli and Eric out on the assessment. Guide dog users actually have to have better than normal cane work and orientation skills. Eric is making sure that the 4 youth who came, are independent enough and have the proper skills to make a guide dog pairing work. In over 30 years of guide dog training and 20 years of training for youth, Eric has never had either an accident or a rejection. He's that good.
Here are Keesha and Nahnoo, they are both 'St Pierre' dogs, a new breed Eric has made after years of breeding for this purpose. St Pierre's are initially from a cross between Bernese Mtn Dogs and Labrador Retrievers. Aren't they gorgeous? Mira also uses poodles for those with allergies. Mira's dogs are the absolutely best trained guide dogs I have ever seen. I was really impressed.
Here you can see the joy Calli has walking with Keesha. Calli is not short on confidence by any means, but I could see enough of a change in her that it actually brought tears to my eyes to watch her walk. Calli will be receiving her own dog on my birthday, July 5th, after two days of observation and personality matching. Keesha had already been matched with a nice, calm, little old lady, and they were going to be meeting just a couple weeks after this picture had been taken. I bet those two are just the sweetest couple.