Zoltan, leader of presidents

  • Zoltan will lead the inaugural parade.
Zoltan will lead the inaugural parade. (Handout photo )
January 17, 2013|By Kim Fernandez

Meet Zoltan. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to be famous (well, more famous than right now, anyway).

Zoltan is an 11-month old Labrador-Golden Retriever mix who's being raised to be a service dog by Baltimore's JoAnn Rogers and her family. And on Monday, he'll lead the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Parade (we knew him when!).

"Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) was chosen from more than 2,800 applicants to march in the parade," says Rogers, who has raised Zoltan since he was eight weeks old. He’ll stay with the family until November, when he'll be returned to CCI to finish his training and go live with someone who needs him for assistance.

"They learn how to open and close doors, turn lights on and off, retrieve dropped items, and even pull wheelchairs," says Rogers of CCI's puppies. Volunteers are not compensated for their time with the dogs, who are provided free of charge to their lifetime owners. CCI says each dog is worth about $45,000, and each one is sure to play a central role in a disabled human's life.

Zoltan will be joined by 56 other CCI dogs from Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, California, and Nevada in Monday’s Inaugural Parade. Watch for a glimpse of this puppy destined for stardom.

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