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Guide dogs have their sea legs

Dec. 15, 2012 at 12:53 PM

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Eleven dogs on a cruise ship bound for Hawaii aren't dogging their duties as guide dogs for the visually impaired, their owners say.

Most of the dogs, graduates of the Guide Dogs for the Blind, also are experienced sea dogs with several cruises notched on their leashes, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

"I never would have been brave enough to venture out on a cruise by myself," Texas resident Nancy Shugart, who took her first cruise in 2005, told the Times. "However, with my faithful guide dog by my side, I took the risk and have been cruising every year since."

Shugart is one of 19 people escorted by 11 dogs on the Golden Princess Hawaii cruise, which left Los Angeles this month for a two-week trip with stops at Honolulu, Hilo, Kauai, Maui and in Ensenada, Mexico.

Dimensions in Travel, a Northern California-based travel agency, organized the cruise. It sets up "one or two cruises a year," Andi Cercos, who specializes in travel for visually handicapped clients, told the Times.

The agency arranges for special check-in, orientation tours, pet life jackets, dog play areas and the all-important potty zones.

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