Congratulations, Spring 2018 Graduates

(042918 Fitchburg, MA) Derek Blake, 9 1/2 kisses his social dog Jean during NEADS service dog graduation ceremony in Fitchburg on Sunday,April 29, 2018. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane

On April 29, NEADS staff, Board, volunteer puppy raisers, friends, family members, and supporters came together to celebrate 18 of our newest Service Dog teams at the Spring 2018 Graduation. This graduating class represents a wide range of NEADS Service Dogs, including Service Dogs for Veterans, Service Dogs for individuals with physical disabilities, Service Dogs for children with autism and other developmental disabilities, and Assistance Dogs for professionals in classroom, courthouse, and hospital settings. Each graduate had the opportunity to tell the audience about what it’s like to have a Service Dog and offered personal, moving stories about their life-changing experiences.

We were joined by authors Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, who hosted a book signing for their top of the New York Times best selling children’s book, Rescue & Jessica, and presented generous gifts, including an autographed copy of their book, to each of the graduates. Rescue, who received the ASPCA 2017 Dog of the Year award last November, was, of course, also on hand, as was the book’s illustrator, Scott Magoon.

As part of our recognition of the 20th anniversary of our Prison PUP Program, Carol Mici, Deputy Commissioner of Clinical Services and Reentry, Massachusetts Department of Corrections, was the guest speaker. Former inmate handler Rob Wojeck spoke about the impact the program had on his life. Watch a video about the Prison PUP Program here.

Many thanks to Monty Tech for hosting us, and to all who took part in this very special celebration.

Photo by Nancy Lane, Boston Herald