Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws Kim Christopher and her husband have lived in the same Chapel Hill house since 1990. She, a nurse practitioner, and her husband who works as an IBM engineer raised 3 sons who graduated and moved across the country. One year ago, they were convinced to start whelping puppies for Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Paws, a service dog training company in Carrboro, N.C. Kim now works as a consultant who interviews potential owners to see what their needs are when it comes to a service dog. Currently, they are housing a golden lab named Sonny, who has retired from breeding; and Allie, a black lab who is eventually going to have her first litter of puppies. Both are highly trained service dogs, and their puppies will become service dogs as well.Every day is a way to practice learning and honing in on various commands. The dogs both know to wait patiently at the door until Kim tells them they are allowed to go outside. Every so often, Kim and her husband figure out more commands that the dogs have already been trained to obey. For example, one day, they realized Sonny knows that when someone says “Sonny, get it,” she is supposed to go pick up whatever fell on the ground and bring it back to the owner.Kim’s husband is the one who walks the dogs in the mornings, but Kim walks with him at night. The dogs have to stay active, practicing their responsibility and obedience at all times. However, play is still important, and Kim and her husband make sure the walks the dogs go on are relaxing and fun. When Sonny first had her puppies, Kim and her husband slept downstairs in sleeping bags with them. Her husband works from home most days, so he can watch the dogs and take care of them.Kim and her husband told her kids last December that when they came home for Christmas, puppies would greet them. The kids were, understandably, ecstatic. “Raising kids prepared us for raising puppies.” said Kim. “Being a nurse myself, I’m raising these dogs to become caregivers.”In their basement, Kim and her husband refurbished it into a safe, comfortable place for the dogs to play, relax, and have puppies. He set up his workspace right behind where the puppies were, so he could keep an eye on them throughout the day. “It’s like having newborn babies. You have to check on them every three hours, and you can’t leave them alone.”Their basement is a memorial to both the dogs and their children. Hung up on the walls is various leashes, collars, bats, and raquets. Old watercolor paintings made my the children are placed around the room as well.Sonny, the golden lab, was recently spayed. She’s had two litters of puppies already, and she’s only four years old. EENP decided to retire her and let her live a post-motherhood life. During the procedure, they painted her nails pink. “Sonny doesn’t listen as well as Allie does. She was a good mother,” said Kim. “After she had puppies, she wouldn’t let another dog get in between her and the door to the house.”Kim and her husband work as a team to take care of their dogs. Here, Kim trims Sonny’s nails while her husband distracts her with a few dog treats. Allie, their black lab, got jealous and butted her head in for some treats as well. “Allie and Sonny really do love each other. When Allie has puppies, Sonny will be a great aunt.”“These dogs and their puppies will go on to do great things,” says Kim. Some dogs are trained to sense seizures and prevent their owners from getting hurt during or before them. Others detect when a diabetic owner needs insulin. Some lead the blind, others calm the anxious. No matter what, Kim’s caregiving of these two puppies is preparing them to give specific, necessary care to someone in need.One other program that Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws is a part of is the inmate training program. The company takes trainers up to a prison in Caswell County, where inmates help train and socialize with the dogs. At the end of the program, the inmates show off what their trained puppies have learned. “This company does so much good for so many people, not just the dogs,” says Kim. In each dog’s life, they interact with so many different types of caregivers that its easy to lose count. But, in the end, it is the dogs that become the caregiver for the owner they are paired with.