Marshall County native trains service dog for school project

It’s part of the Argos High School curriculum, each senior has to carry-out a project on a topic that interests them.

It’s all about getting involved with the community and doing something good.

For Ally Rospopo, it was all about training a service dog.

Ally says that they are required to write a 10-page-paper, and put 20 hours towards the senior project.

Ally put 1,626 hours towards her project and that only includes the in school and out of school, not the night time hours.

But for Ally, it was all worth it.

Ally Rospopo has always loved training dogs so she knew raising a Leader Dog for the blind would be a great opportunity.

“I wrote in there and explained that I wanted to do this for my senior project, and I got my senior project approve my junior year at the end of the year so I could start over the summer and have her ready to go to school my senior year,” says Ally Rospopo.

A decision which normally takes a while was made in a week and Ally was off to Rochester Hills, Michigan where she met Mileigh.

“They tell you everything about what is right and what is wrong cause there are lots of rules and toys that they can play with,” says Rospopo, “Puppy training was the first thing, and then starts obedience right away, learning how to sit, learning how to lay down, walk on a leash nicely without pulling, stuff like that, then public, practicing in public.”

After about 11 months of constant training it was time to say goodbye.

“I definitely got very very attached to her so it was really hard taking her back,” says Rospopo.

But, it wasn't the end for Mileigh. She eventually met her new owner Molly Eschelbach.

Molly was diagnosed with an eye disease at the age of 13 known as Retinitis Pigmentosa.

It's a disease that attacks the rods in your eyes and the cones slowly dye off causing blindness, so molly knew it was time for Mileigh.

“Most of my visual obstacles seeing things are a lot of depth perception, going someplace in the dark and it is a lot easier because I have no night vision what so ever,” says Eschelbach, “Mileigh has taken away some of the stigma of what it means to be visually impaired, cause people don't look at my cane and think oh the pity thing, they see a dog and they see, oh how cute. She makes it easier for me to be able to see the world in a different way.”

“She touched a lot of people’s lives,” adds Rospopo.
Ally says her project was recognized by congress as one of the top rated senior projects in the country, and continues to receive updates on how Mileigh is doing.

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