Constant companions

NMSU students train puppies for guide-dog school

By Carlos Andres López ’10
Photos by Josh Bachman ’07

As students filed into a classroom in Guthrie Hall on a Friday morning in February 2020, a yellow Labrador retriever named Scooby followed behind, wagging his tail until finding a place to sit. Christina Meechan, an animal science undergraduate, remained at his side the entire time. The two have been constant companions since Meechan started co-raising Scooby as a puppy in August 2019 for NMSU Community Puppy Raisers, a student organization led by Gaylene Fasenko, animal science associate professor.

The club, founded in spring 2018, works in partnership with Guide Dogs for the Blind, a California-based nonprofit, to train puppies in preparation for guide-dog school. Two dogs raised at NMSU are now working as guide dogs.

Meechan and other student puppy-raisers are responsible for the 24/7 care of the dogs, which spend 14 to 20 months learning basic obedience and good public behavior at NMSU. Puppies raised at NMSU attend classes, participate in regular training sessions and explore campus – all with their raisers at their side. We captured Meechan and Scooby over two days in spring 2020.

8:45 a.m. Thursday:
Meechan and Scooby cross Williams Avenue on their way to their first class of the day.

10:23 a.m. Friday:
Meechan chats with a classmate in her introductory theater class as Scooby listens from underneath a desk.

11:30 a.m. Friday:
After theater class, Meechan and Scooby meet their friends Melanie Coleman and Amstel at Corbett Center Student Union for lunch. Coleman, a social work undergraduate, is raising Amstel, Scooby’s half-brother, for the NMSU Community Puppy Raisers.

12:50 p.m. Friday: Meechan gives Scooby a treat outside Gerald Thomas Hall on their way to the FIDO LAB.

1:24 p.m. Friday:
Meechan and Scooby, second from left, spend several minutes working on an exercise called ‘Puppy Zen’ – one of Scooby’s favorite activities. To learn more about Guide Dogs for the Blind, visit guidedogs.com.

1:32 p.m. Thursday:
Scooby rests his head on the gym floor in Rentfrow Hall, watching
students as they begin their dance class.