Sophomore brings guide dog training to campus
She trots into class early. She naps occasionally in the middle of lectures. She high-fives classmates after tests. Not only is she smart — she is also cute.
Spice, a 4-month-old golden retriever, absorbs campus life at Georgia College. “She is so adorable,” said trainer Carly Angelucci.
“Classmates and friends laugh because we have conversations while walking to class. She even knows how to get me to specific buildings on her own.”
An avid animal lover, Angelucci brings a new type of diversity to campus.
She is a puppy raiser with the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, a national nonprofit organization providing free guide dogs to the visually impaired and disabled veterans.
“My goal is to get Spice used to sites, sounds and crowds,” said the mass communications major. “I have a year to train her on the basics. One day she will become the eyes and ears for someone in need.”
Angelucci’s caring spirit led her to the Georgia College GIVE Center where she works as a service leader.
“I thought: ‘Why not earn service hours for participating in such a giving organization like the Guide Dog Foundation?’’ Angelucci said. “I asked GIVE Center director Kendall Stiles if the center would ac- knowledge this foundation for all student volunteers to earn service credit hours, and she loved the idea.”
The Guide Dog Foundation at Georgia College is the GIVE Center’s newest partnership.
“This partnership is exactly what we love to see happen in the GIVE Center,” said Stiles. “It’s fulfilling and inspiring to work with students like Carly who have a passion for a cause or program and do everything in their power to make that passion a reality.”
Deana Izzo, certified guide dog instructor and field representative with the Guide Dog Foundation, found Angelucci’s online application to train puppies appealing.
“Carly’s application interested me because of her experience working with foster dogs,” said Izzo. “She is willing to do the work, so we are willing to teach. Like Carly, each of our puppy raisers is an ambassador for the foundation and must exhibit good communication skills with the puppies while in the public.”
Angelucci’s vision of becoming a puppy raiser on campus became a reality when she held Spice for the first time this summer.
“I drove to Athens with my two roommates to pick up Spice and was so nervous,” she said. “Spice traveled all the way from New York. She was sleepy, and my heart just melted because of how cute she looked.”
On command, Spice sits, stays, gets up, and goes in and out of buildings and elevators.
Spice also practices good manners. She walks beside Angelucci while traveling across campus; sits beside the sophomore in class; and knows to stay on course when she spots something she wants.
Spice’s unconditional love makes training her special, said Angelucci.
“Dogs have this great sense of healing that medicine just can’t touch,” she said. “Petting them is a great stress reliever for situations like tests.”
The Marietta, Ga., native’s affection for fluffy and fuzzy creatures grew into a childhood addiction. Along with dogs, Angelucci spent her younger years caring for guinea pigs, ferrets and hamsters.
“I really wanted horses, ducks and monkeys too, but my parents wouldn’t allow it,” she said. “I’ve never
been afraid of animals. I was that child that made my parents pull to the side of the road whenever I saw a stray animal on the street.”
Angelucci volunteered at local animal rescue and adoption group Mostly Mutts in Kennesaw, Ga., during her middle and high school years.
The animal caregiver intends to own and operate an animal organization after college. She feels her mass communication degree will help her spread the word about animals’ significance in society.
For now, Angelucci prepares Spice for the next level of training with the foundation.
“This relationship is just a yearlong experience,” Angelucci said. “A lot of crying and ice cream eating will happen when Spice leaves. She is the first dog I’ve trained for the foundation. I’m not looking forward to letting her go, but I am looking forward to hearing that she’s helping people.”