New dog: Helping train Spencer, a 1-year-old golden retriever and Labrador retriever mix, for Canine Companions for Independence. Has had him since he was 2 months old last July.
Old tricks: Taught Spencer a series of 25 commands, such as “sit” and “stay,” as well as commands that have him jump onto her “lap” and go “out” an open door and wait facing her.
College bound: Both she and Spencer will head to different colleges this fall. She’s entering Washington State University. Spencer’s “puppy college” will take him through advanced training before he’s placed with someone with physical disabilities who needs assistance.
A girl’s best friend: “I love him to death. Oh my gosh. I’m going to cry when he leaves. But that’s OK. I know he’s going on to do something better.”
Constant companion: Spencer lives with her and accompanies her to school each day. Teachers don’t mind – he’s a quiet student. “He likes to sleep during class.”
Dr. Siler: Hopes to get into WSU’s veterinarian program and become an animal doctor. “I’ve always wanted to be one.” Recalls playing endlessly with doctor’s kits as a little girl. Working with Spencer has solidified the goal. “It really prompts me to want to go to school for another 10 years.”
How it began: As a member of the high school’s Cascade Therapy Dog Team, an extracurricular program, she took 13-year-old Keesha, a keeshond, through the Reading with Rover program. It didn’t work well. “She’s just old and not that well socialized.” Teacher suggested Canine Companions instead.
On animals: “They’re so unconditionally loving.” Can talk to them about anything. “They’re not necessarily like people, where they’ll give you feedback – they’ll just make you feel good.”
Tough load: Didn’t slack off her last semester. Took pre-veterinary science, college English, college-level Advanced Placement calculus (loves math), third-year German, band (she plays flute), and Washington state history.
Other activities: Played volleyball for the Everett Boys &Girls Club, played in marching band and was a member of the National Honor Society.
The path ahead: “I’m afraid, honestly.” But also looking forward to leaving high school behind. “Despite how cool it is, it’s hard to be under constant supervision. I’m excited for college and new things.”
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