On Christmas Eve, two seeing-eye-dogs-in-training, Celine and Kelly, came with their puppy raisers to the 9/11 Memorial. Prior to training at Seeing Eye’s Morristown, N.J. center, these dogs are cared for in the homes of volunteers from the age of 7 weeks until they are 16 to 18 months. The puppy raisers, Carolyn Finkelstein and Peggy Grow, visited the 9/11 Memorial to honor the memory of the victims of 9/11. Finkelstein explains, “Part of being a puppy raiser is exposing your dog to the world where it will eventually lead a blind person.”
Celine and Kelly had a chance meeting with a group of eight blind adults visiting the memorial from Italy. Not wishing to expose their canine companions to a long airplane voyage, the group decided not to bring their seeing eye dogs. Instead, they were escorted by human guides. Celine and Kelly helped make this group of visitors feel at home. When introduced to the dogs, the Italians wanted to know their names, their breeds, and their colors. They knelt down to pet the dogs and were rewarded with tail wagging and “kisses.”
As service dogs often do, Celine and Kelly erased barriers of language and nationality and reinforced the 9/11 Memorial as a place of global reach and healing.
-Amy Weisser, Director of Exhibition Development for the 9/11 Memorial Museum