WASHINGTON - Kelly Haugh is looking forward to marching in the presidential inaugural parade Monday. But more important to her is making sure people take note of her four-legged companion.
Haugh, of Boulder City, raises puppies to become service dogs to the disabled. She will march with Kinnick, a 16-month-old Labrador/golden retriever mix she has been training since he was 8 weeks old.
"He is ready to go," Haugh said of Kinnick and the mile-and-a-half walk ahead of them along Pennsylvania Avenue. "He is really well-behaved. I have no concerns with him whatsoever. He will be perfect.
"They are telling us to be prepared to be walking for about two hours in 38-degree weather."
Haugh - pronounced "Hawk" - works with service dogs one at a time as a volunteer for a California-based nonprofit, Canine Companions for Independence.
At the same time, she is employed as dispatch manager for Community Ambulance, a private ambulance service in Henderson. Previously she was a 911 dispatcher for the city of Henderson.
Kinnick accompanies Haugh to work each day, resting in a crate beside her desk to get used to being around people. It is the latest phase of training that began when he left his litter and was "a big ball of fur, literally," Haugh said.
In May, Kinnick will be handed over to another instructor for six months of formal service dog training before being given to a disabled veteran or someone else in need of help and companionship.
"We just have a couple of more months together, so I thought I can't miss out of this opportunity," Haugh said of their shared trip east.
United Airlines allows service dogs in training to fly in the passenger cabin, where Kinnick will join Haugh on a flight Saturday to Washington. They will stay the weekend with Haugh's friends in Leesburg, Va.
Haugh and Kinnick will walk in a group of 132 people and 56 other dogs associated with Canine Companions for Independence, which is based in Santa Rosa, Calif.
A spokeswoman said she believed the organization was picked to march because it is known for its work with disabled veterans.
Haugh, a Southern Nevada native , has raised seven service dogs during her volunteer career at her home, which she shares with her two pet dogs, Sully and Murphy, a rabbit and a 12-year old quarterhorse gelding named Fritz.
Haugh said she becomes attached to the dogs she trains, "but somebody needs them much more than I do. Truly there is a waiting list for these dogs."
As for Kinnick, "I know someone needs him. Someone is waiting for him right now."
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephens media.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.