VALENCIA, SANTA CLARITA (KABC) —
It takes a lot of commitment and patience to volunteer to train a guide dog, and this week’s ABC7 Cool Kid Bekah Brooks has a lot of both. The 15-year-old from Valencia is making a difference in her community by becoming a guide dog trainer.
Bekah said it all started with a field trip that her home-school group took.
“We take field trips to the guide dog facility, and so we were like maybe this is a good year to start training a guide dog,” Bekah explained.
Her mom said Bekah loves animals and especially dogs.
“This seemed like a way that we could take an interest of hers and serve the community at the same time,” said Diane Brooks.
Bekah said she feels that having a puppy brings people closer. She said that’s what she loves most about having her puppy Zuma by her side.
“It’s a companion so you don’t feel alone, and that’s what I want to do with Zuma — help her be a good dog for a blind person,” she said.
Once new trainers get their 8-week-old puppies, they’re taught how to train their new dogs.
“Guide Dogs of America has been very helpful in training Bekah and I how to handle the dog and how to train her. It’s all new for us,” Diane said.
Even training is something Bekah sees as a positive because it will help her reach her goal of successfully making sure Zuma’s a crucial companion to someone who needs her.
“I feel like the trainers, they just really want you to learn,” Bekah said.” They don’t want you to fail, and having them by my side really helped me keep going. And they showed me how to train Zuma better.”
The dog training lasts one year and includes basic commands; even potty training! Bekah takes Zuma everywhere, even to soccer practice.
Once Bekah is done with her formal training, it will be time for the people from Guide Dogs of America to take Zuma back and place her with someone. As hard as it will be for Bekah, it helps her to know how much Zuma will be loved and needed.
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