What a cool program for this university to have. I am so very impressed!
R.U.F.F. visits Oak Knoll School
Posted by Gloucester County Times
Rowan student teachers Ashley Ryan and LeighAnn Quinn invited R.U.F.F. (Rowan University Forward to Freedom) to visit their fourth grade students at Oak Knoll School as part of a “Character Education” class and because they were learning about Helen Keller during Women’s History month.This is the Rowan division of puppy raisers. After their time spent at Rowan, the dogs then go on to Morristown for formal training to become guide or service dogs.
Pictured here are Ashley Ryan, Metin Ahiskali, Elyse Kozlowskiki, Robin Brelsford and LeighAnn Quinn with Kong, the German Shepherd, Spike, the Golden Retriever and Jeeves, the Black Lab Retriever.
Toms River Rowan U student raises Seeing Eye puppy on campus
December 20, 2006
Wisdom says it takes a village to raise a child, but Kari Mastromonica, a 2004 graduate of Toms River High School East, is finding it takes roommates, teachers, family and an entire university campus to raise a Seeing Eye puppy.“The campus is the perfect place to raise a guide dog as we are a city unto ourselves,” says Robin Brelsford, co-leader of Rowan University’s Forward to Freedom (RUFF) puppy-raising program. “The dogs get plenty of exposure to the things they will encounter as guide dogs. Our dogs grow up in crowds, around traffic, construction equipment, bicycles, wheelchairs, fire alarms, you name it.”
This year RUFF is raising seven puppies, socializing them before they return to The Seeing Eye, Morristown, for formal training. Mastromonica, a junior psychology major, is raising Walden, a Labrador/golden retriever cross puppy.
“I always saw the puppies around campus my freshman year, and I was intrigued by them,” says Mastromonica. “So, I decided to get involved. I filled out an application, and in my sophomore year I started raising a German shepherd named Al, who is continuing training with The Seeing Eye.”
Mastromonica, like all of the other student puppy-raisers, lives on campus. That means Walden has three roommates in addition to Mastromonica. Lindsay Jackson, from Sea Isle City; Kathy Sullivan, from Cateret; and Danielle Cascella, from Spotswood, share their apartment with Walden. All four roommates have agreed to take care of Walden for the duration of his stay.
“We get these puppies at just seven weeks of age. All housetraining and basic obedience are on us,” says Brelsford, who is raising Jeeves, a Labrador/golden retriever cross, with her husband George Brelsford, Rowan vice president of student affairs and co-leader of RUFF.
According to Mastromonica, the experiences and situations have been interesting and not always easy when it comes to taking Walden everywhere she goes. “Outside of campus, sometimes people don’t want Walden in their stores or other buildings,” says Mastromonica. “But at Rowan, everyone is so supportive. People are always stopping me and asking me questions because they are curious. I am always willing to stop and educate people about the reason why I am raising Walden.”
According to Robin Brelsford, all of the stares, awkward situations and training are worth it.
“Raising a puppy requires a deep understanding that this commitment goes way beyond yourself. It is extremely difficult to love and nurture a puppy for a year to give him/her to someone else,” she says. “As much as I love and want my puppy, I don’t need my puppy. Someone else’s life will be greatly enhanced and protected by the job this puppy will be able to do. That’s why we do what we do.”