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State Honoree

Kaycee McNutt

Arizona

Kaycee McNutt, 13, of Yuma, Ariz., a seventh-grader at Castle Dome Middle School, has devoted more than a year to training a puppy to be a guide dog for a blind person, and also volunteers each week at a local veterinary clinic. Kaycee, a long-time animal lover and pet owner, decided to become a guide dog trainer after a teacher at her school brought his puppy to class and talked about the organization, Guide Dogs for the Blind. "I really enjoyed working with the pup, and later in the year I decided to attend some monthly meetings with our local guide dog group," said Kaycee. "The more meetings I made, the more I realized what a great program it was." Kaycee received a puppy to train in October 2006, and has since spent almost every waking hour with "Blaze," teaching him to walk on a leash, go potty on command, and obey nine verbal commands. In addition, Kaycee takes Blaze with her everywhere she goes, including public places, in order to socialize him at a young age. "Although raising a guide dog takes a lot of time and effort, I feel like I am doing something that can change the life of a blind person for the better," she said. Kaycee also enjoys working at the Desert Veterinary Clinic every Friday after school, where she cleans floors, kennels and treatment rooms; calms down scared animals; helps with paper work; and pitches in wherever needed.