Guide dog helps family appreciate life’s simple things

The Kinsella family met Spruce’s new partner at the guide dog’s graduation. Top, left to right: Mackenzie and Madison Kinsella; seated, left to right, Gabriella Kinsella, guide doge recipient Serena Miller with Spruce and Karrie Kinsella. Courtesy photo

Raising her family in an affluent El Dorado Hills neighborhood, mother Karrie Kinsella wanted to show her three daughters there’s more to life than money.

“I wanted to show them something that you can’t put a price on,” she explained.

In 2011 the family joined the El Dorado Second Sight Club and got a puppy to raise for Guide Dogs for the Blind. A bouncy yellow Lab named Spruce moved in — running circles around twins Mackenzie and Madison, 17, and little sister Gabriella, 11. Karrie recalls hardly being able to tie her shoes without Spruce’s nose in the way.

For a year, the family worked with Spruce, teaching him basic commands and taking him to the mall, bowling alleys and everywhere else they went. They all went in knowing Spruce wasn’t a family dog — destined for greater things; however, Karrie noted, it was still hard to let go when he went to doggy college for the rest of his training.

That sadness turned to pure joy when Spruce recently graduated and was paired with a 19-year-old Buena Park college student who lost her sight at age 3.

“It totally changes somebody’s life,” Karrie said of getting a guide dog. “It gives them total freedom and independence.”

The family plans to get another dog and, Karrie said, she encourages anyone who has the time to consider raising a service dog. For more information call 800-295-4050 or visit guidedogs.com.

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Posted by on Feb 21 2013.
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