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Walter Panas High School Student Trains Guiding Eyes Dog

Alyssa Repetto poses with Fiesta, the guide dog she is training, at a recent visit to Lil' Sprouts Early Learning Center in Peekskill.
Alyssa Repetto poses with Fiesta, the guide dog she is training, at a recent visit to Lil' Sprouts Early Learning Center in Peekskill. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Repetto

CORTLANDT, N.Y. -- Thanks to the work of Cortlandt teenager Alyssa Repetto, someone out there will have the guide dog they need.

Repetto, a 17-year-old student at Walter Panas High School, has been training a guide dog for Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown.

The Cortlandt resident has been working with her dog Fiesta, a black Labrador Retriever, since Fiesta was nine weeks old and will have her for about a year.

"We train her and go to classes to teach her about socializing," Repetto.

Repetto, who is working on her Girl Scouts Gold Award, decided to train a dog to help raise awareness of Guiding Eyes.

"I take her to schools and talk about her and talk to people about what Guiding Eyes for fhe Blind does," Repetto said.

Repetto recently took Fiesta to Lil' Sprouts Early Learning Center in Peekskill where she explained to the kids about how guide dogs and their owners can go anywhere, including restaurants and on airplanes.

"If you see a blind person with a guide dog, do not pet or talk to the dog without the owner's permission because the dog is working," Repetto told the kids.

Since Guiding Eyes requires volunteers to be older than 18, Repetto realizing that training a dog was the best way she could help. She has enjoyed getting to be with Fiesta and what goes into training a dog.

"You learn commands and practice everyday," Repetto said. "You get her used to new things and people and practice the commands outside of home."

Repetto said it was fun and challenging training Fiesta.

"There are always events and situations that are more difficult," Repetto said. "But she's fabulous. She's definitely a quick learner. It's so rewarding."

Her 3-year-old morkie has been getting along with Fiesta and Repetto said they have been teaching the morkie some of the guide dog commands.

"It's just been a lot of fun," Repetto said.

Repetto said attending a Guiding Eyes for the Blind graduation ceremony where graduates talk about how guide dogs have improved their life is inspirational.

"It really makes it worth it," Repetto said.

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