Celebrating our Spring 2022 Graduates, Part 2

We are planning our next live graduation April 2023, at which time we will celebrate three classes, including our Spring 2022 graduates. In the meantime, we very much want to recognize and honor our most recent graduates by sharing their stories here. Be sure to read our Spring 2022 Graduates, Part 1 here.

Joanna & Service Dog Sully

Sully has been such an incredible blessing in my life, joyously offering his help with the everyday tasks that would otherwise be painful or taxing for me. I can almost hear him thinking, "Help unloading the groceries? Oh boy, best day ever!"; "Did you drop something again? I'm on it, mom!"; and my favorite, "You look like your pain's pretty bad. Let me snuggle up real close." I'm so very grateful for Sully's love, companionship, and support.

From Puppy Raiser Brenda: I have been a NEADS Weekend Puppy Raiser since 2013. Sully was my 6th pup in training.
I was a full-time raiser for Sully for nine months from when he left prison at the beginning of the Covid lock downs, until he transferred to the NEADS campus to finish his training.

We were just happy to get out and go "anywhere" with Sully, since he was with us from the initial total lock down until things finally started opening up again. That meant he went to work with me when I started going back to the office a couple days a week, and he came with us as we made day trips over the weekends too. My favorite memory is of taking Sully along for a New Hampshire day trip that included traversing a swinging bridge, and a drive to the top of Mt. Washington.

I found Sully to be equal parts sweet, smart, and silly, but above all, very eager to please. I absolutely knew he would be an intuitive and loving partner to his future lucky person.

In general, when the pup at the end of the leash starts to feel more like a professional Service Dog everywhere we go, and less and less like a pup "in training," you know they've "got it." It's always a heady feeling when you first notice that change, in some random place out in public, and you think... Ahh, this is it - he's/she's ready to begin their new life with their forever person. ❤️


Cindy & Service Dog for Hearing Vali

The  value of the gift of Vali becomes more and more precious every day. She seems to possess a deep understanding of her role serving as my ears and with that, our bond has continued to deepen. Vali has allowed me to relax and not be on heightened alert out of fear of not hearing important sounds. While our journey together has only just begun, Vali is already priceless.

From Puppy Raiser Theresa: After raising, loving and saying goodbye to three of our own dogs, we became volunteer Raisers at NEADS and are now thrilled to be puppy raisers for the 4th time. Vali was our 3rd to be placed, and the second that we had as Full-time Raisers during the pandemic.

We picked up 10 month old Vali the weekend before Thanksgiving 2020, and for the next five months brought her from level 1 most of the way through level 7.

Vali’s work ethic always impressed us; she seemed to “get it” from the get-go! The cape gave her super-powers to listen, learn and do the “work". As soon as the cape was off, she was ready to be that energetic puppy and have fun! We got so many laughs and chuckles seeing her big personality come through.

From Puppy Raiser Mark: Mark, I am a math teacher, and Vali was the second dog my wife Lauren and I had as Weekend Puppy Raisers. My favorite place to take Vali was the train station. Whether it was exposure to trains, children who were watching the train, training with benches on under or up. We live near a train station and there was a lot of training opportunity there. I even used a photo of Vali for a remote math vocab lesson.

I always felt like Vali was listening and eager to help. She was very smart and head strong. On walks she was always by my side and I could see her learning so much each day.

While Vali was well behaved out in public, we loved that she really enjoyed nature as much as we did. Whether it was one of our short (caped) hike through woods and over streams or meeting alpacas and horses, or capeless for free time in the backyard, chasing after something we’d thrown or jumping over snowbanks and playing in the snow, it was always rewarding to see her grow through these five months.

From Puppy Raiser Brenda: I have been a NEADS Weekend Puppy Raiser since 2013. Vali was my 7th pup. I was both a Full-time Raiser and then a Weekend Puppy Raiser for Vali. She was with us full-time for a little over two months until her finish training, in the hearing dog program in prison, and then I became her Weekend Puppy Raiser.

Vali came to work with me on a university campus 3 days a week, and she quickly impressed everyone she met. We answered lots of questions and spread a lot of education about service dogs during those months! Twice a week she accompanied me to the campus testing center so I could get my routine Covid test done, and all the test center staff would LIGHT UP when they saw her prancing through the door. Clearly she was the highlight of their day.

Vali exuded a calm and confident nature from the moment we met, and I knew she'd be a rock steady partner to whoever she was matched with.

In general, when the pup at the end of the leash starts to feel more like a professional service dog everywhere we go, and less and less like a pup "in training," you know they've "got it." It's always a heady feeling when you first notice that change, in some random place out in public, and you think... Ahh, this is it - he's/she's ready to begin their new life with their forever person. ❤️

Vali at train tracks

Mary and Service Dog for Hearing Ivy

Ivy has brought back the independence, security, safety, and companionship I sorely missed after Roxy finished 13 years of sound work and left for The Rainbow Bridge. Ivy's sound work is a joy to behold. I'm in awe she is matched with me. Speaking of bridges, there's a bit of each of the three previous dogs in Ivy: she's sweet, smart, adventuresome - - has met all situations with aplomb so far - -is a leaner, is funny, sits/stands on my feet too, still skips when she runs, uses my furniture as props for boisterous play, and still wakes me with kisses that have made me laugh since the first day of sound training.

From Puppy Raiser Dan: We have been Weekend Puppy Raisers for over 10 years. We were Full-time Raisers for Ivy for the first 6 months we had her. When she went to the Prison PUP Program for her finish training, we were her Weekend Puppy Raisers.

What quality did you admire most about him/her that you thought would make an impact?- Ivy has such an easy going personality that everyone likes her immediately. We felt that Ivy would be good in any capacity. She was on the ball from the beginning. We got her 6 months into the pandemic, but she easily adapted to having to be quiet during the day when we were working and had no problem going out in public. One thing we enjoyed was taking Ivy on short hikes with us. She seemed to enjoy the new smells of being in the woods.


Sarah & Service Dog for Hearing Marley

Marley is my Service Dog for Hearing who wakes me up in the morning even when I forget to set the alarm, because she knows when I should be up. She has been a gift for me, but also for my family, even our St. Bernard who now has a wonderful playmate. Marley has taught me a lot about allowing myself to receive help, to be seen, and to be adored as she daily stares into my soul with her puppy eyes and heart of gold.

From Puppy Raiser Laura: We were Marley’s first pandemic raisers. We picked up 10 week old Marley and with an instant burst of energy she filled our life with excitement those first quarantine weeks. She was super smart. By the time she was old enough to move to her Full-Time Raisers on April 3, we knew she would benefit from having a “job” since she enjoyed a challenge and had so much energy. As Weekend Raisers since 2017, we are grateful for the distraction and purpose Marley gave us during the CovId lockdown. We are proud that she is now a Service Dog for Hearing!

From Puppy Raiser Cinda: I had Marley for about 4 or 5 months during her finish training. I loved taking her places. She went to a lot of football games, college visits, and she especially liked coming with me when I taught Sunday school. She was the main attraction for the kids who were allowed to pet her after they listened to the lesson. She patiently waited for permission to say hello, and once given she gave lots of loving to the kids.

Some good memories...Despite having her own big bed, she would squeeze her body into our little dog's bed. That made for some really cute pictures. She was also a great cuddler and had the perfect temperament. She was meant to be with us for that period of time as we had a foster teenager who came to live with us at the same time. Marley was always a calming influence for the teen and had a way of helping the teenager relieve stress. Marley was super with kids, even the very little ones. She always knew just how to approach them gently and how not be overwhelming. By the time Marley came to me, I believe she was already at the place where she "got it."


black lab puppy on wooden step
black lab puppy outside in yard