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Seeing-Eye Dog Aides Law Student
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Radio City Music Hall was treated to a special scene this weekend as Ellis trotted on the stage wearing a custom made graduation gown. Who is Ellis? Ellis is a seeing-eye dog who was escorting Amanda Davis on stage to accept her diploma. Ellis is an 80-pound black lab.

“I couldn’t have done this without Ellis,” said Davis, who graduated from New York Law School. Davis gives Ellis plenty of credit for her success. When Davis moved to Manhattan from Port St. Lucie, Florida, her dream was to sing for the choir at Carnegie Hall. When she moved from Florida she was relying on family members and a cane to get around town. Davis filed an application at The Seeing Eye, from Morristown, New Jersey, and received a dog a couple of months later.

  
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“We both walk fast and are both very hyper, so it’s a perfect match,” Davis said.

Davis studied for her undergraduate degree at the University of Tampa with Ellis by her side. It took the two a while but they were able to mesh as partners. Three years ago, Davis enrolled in New York Law School, which frightened her mother.

“I knew I had to let her go,” said her mom, Sonja. “I owe this dog my life. He allows her to be normal and live a life of freedom that she wouldn’t have.”

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The senior director of Student Life at NYLS, Sally Harding, said that the school made sure Ellis had room in classes and that Amanda’s schedule permitted breaks for the puppy. Davis hopes to raise awareness about seeing-eye dogs so it is easier for people with the dogs to get into restaurants and to hail cabs.

“It’s shocking that people don’t know the law,” said Davis. Davis is planning to take the bar next year and then begin searching for a job, hopefully in financial arbitration. Davis said that while Ellis is at home, he is a normal dog, lying on the couch and playing with squeak toys.



Ellis also seems to be an excellent judge of character. “He recently peed on one guy’s shoe,” Davis said.

The Seeing Eye has aided over 6,000 people travel and live independently with sight problems. The company breeds its own dogs and graduated 249 teams in 2011. It can cost $35,000 to train and raise a seeing-eye dog but it costs a student just $150 for their first dog and then $50 for successor dogs.



 

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