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Autumn Cruz /

Monica Di Nocco, left, and her puppy-in-training Halo

I Care: Teen knows difference a companion dog makes

Published: Monday, Sep. 24, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

The hardest part about raising a puppy for Canine Companions for Independence is not all the training you must do.

It's letting the dog go, said Monica Di Nocco, left, a senior at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills.

She knows she'll be able to say goodbye to her first puppy-in-training, 10-month-old Halo, because she sees the good a companion dog does for her mother, Peggy, who has multiple sclerosis.

Before her mom's dog, Felice, came into their lives, Monica, 17, spent years helping her mother and worrying about leaving her alone.

Felice performs simple yet crucial tasks such as picking things up for Peggy, helping her out of bed or fetching her cellphone.

Felice gives Monica freedom and peace of mind.

So she's giving back.

"You're raising a miracle for somebody else," she said.

"She's kind of like a part of me. I have to put (everything) into her."

To suggest a community volunteer for the I Care column, contact

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