Celebrating our Spring 2022 Graduates, Part 1

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 2 here.

Jed & Service Dog Raffle

Raffle is always there for me from picking up my keys to just saying Hi. He knows when I'm in a lot of pain and stays close in case I need help. He brings a smile to my face every day.

From Puppy Raiser Kate: I started as a Weekend Puppy Raiser for Raffle, but because of COVID, I became a Full-Time Raiser until he was matched. It was wonderful to see him progress. Raffle and I loved going to Borderland State Park and splashing in the pond. He also loved visiting my parents and their golden, Bailey. Raffle’s best qualities are his confidence and personality. Those qualities are what convinced me that he was made to be a Service Dog and would be an amazing partner to someone!

Jed & Service Dog Raffle

David & Service Dog Vegas

Before Vegas joined my journey with Post Traumatic Stress Injury, I had made my world pretty small. I didn't venture out into public easily, comfortably, or for extended periods of time. Since partnering with Vegas, his "let's go" sparkle & always comfortable attitude inspire me to re-engage life with more curiosity, willingness to explore, and greater confidence. His presence helps me remember there is beauty & wonder to be discovered on this journey too, as long as we sniff around long enough.

From Puppy Raiser Amanda: I raised Vegas as a Full-Time Raiser for about 4 months before having to leave the Boston area due to COVID. I loved taking Vegas to sit along the Charles River, where he loved looking at the geese. Vegas had no fear. Whether it was the bus or a room of college students, he approached every situation with an open mind and wagging tail. I knew right away that he would be awesome at embarking on new experiences with his owner whatever they might be.

I was going through a pretty difficult time in my life when I worked with Vegas. During some of my lowest moments, they looked at me with the kind of love and adoration you can only get from a dog. The best dogs are those that have an ability to make us feel seen and heard without saying anything at all, and that is exactly how I would describe Vegas.


Chris and Assistance Dog Jonesy

The love and happiness Jonesy brings to Mill Pond can be seen and felt throughout our entire school community. He eagerly trots into school each day as if he knows the positive impact he will have on everyone he sees and simply cannot wait to get the party started!

Whether he is comforting a crying child with love in his eyes and tissues to share, supporting students as they build academic, social and emotional skills in the classroom, fostering new friendships with races at recess, or encouraging staff members with a “hello” and wag of his tail at the end of a long day, he makes each day a better day for everyone. Jonesy has a way of generating smiles, laughter and connections that make our school an even kinder, happier place to learn.


Cynthia & Service Dog for Hearing Collins

The biggest impact that Collins has brought to my life is that he has opened me up to meeting new people and hearing the world around me.

Collins helps me in so many ways. If I am feeling low, he will come over to me, put his paw on me and nuzzle his head into me. He will stay there for ages doing nothing but giving comfort. He knows exactly when I need him most and never needs conversation, never judging, never expecting me to understand him or expecting me to try harder to keep up with what is going on. He has let me come out of my shell with opening up to people that I meet. He is a good conversation starter, including talking to him and he just stares at me (lol).

He brings me the comfort that if I am at home alone, that he can wake me up if the beside alarm goes off (by jumping up and down on me with all of his 79 pounds lol) for me to get up for work and even if the smoke detector goes off. I do not worry as much as I use to about anything happening to me just because I have lost my hearing.

I have also noticed that people do not come up to me and just start talking anymore, they actually see Collins in his bright red vest and they take a moment for me to turn to them and then they lower their mask and start speaking. Collins makes life so much easier in many ways. I now have a reason to go outside because Collins needs his exercise and so do I and we have met many new people.

From Puppy Raiser Leah: I became a Full-Time Puppy Raiser for Collins when he was 12 months old, and I always knew he was going to be a great Service Dog for Hearing! He is such a confident dog and woke up every day ready to work.

I had him for 5 months before he returned to NEADS for finish training. I loved taking him to Apex entertainment in Marlboro. He saw axe throwing, bowling, go karting, and he “played” mini golf with me. My favorite quality about Collins is his goofiness. He was always making someone laugh. I knew whoever he went with would never go a day without laughing. It was such a cool experience to be a kennel attendant at NEADS when Collins came to campus to be matched with Cynthia.

From Puppy Raiser Kate: I’ve been a Weekend Puppy Raiser for around 6 years, and I’ve helped raise 6 NEADS pups (only 1 who was not matched with a client). Collins was with me full time for a few months during the summer of 2020. I was furloughed at the time, and he and I filled our time with walks around town, hikes, and playing in the yard. It was early on in his training so we worked hard on basics. He was a real comfort to me during COVID and his loving nature told me he was destine for great things.


Bill & Service Dog for Hearing Bessie

When I first met Bessie I knew my life was going to change. When I arrived at home, she immediately let my wife Nancy know that you can relax now, I am here to help you. Bessie is a blessing.

Being deaf is really hard not only on me but to my wife and family, and that is where Bessie comes in. She has fit right in and my family loves her. She lets me know when someone calls my name or when someone is getting close to me. She lets me know when someone is at the door and also wakes me when the alarm goes off so I am not late for my fishing trips lol. Bessie is not only a very big part of my life now but part of our family forever. I am now very comfortable going places . I can’t thank NEADS enough for changing my life. It will never be back to normal but with Bessie I feel normal.

From Puppy Raiser Michele: Bessie was our COVID pup, so she didn't have a lot of socialization time before it hit and everything went into lock-down and she came to be with us full-time. She was such a huge blessing to have during that time - and helped us all keep our spirits up - and to get us outdoors. She was especially helpful in keeping my teenager from turning into a mole, as one could not stay in their room forever away from Miss Bessie.

Bessie was our fourth Service Pup in training - and she was a real sweetie. When she smiled - it was with her entire face - it was awesome! And she had the best meal-time thank you dance!!

She was especially patient when she was just about finished with her training with us, and we had Cameron (#5) placed with us. Cameron was a little spitfire, and Bessie would just look at me with her big, patient eyes as if to say, "really, will this thing leave me alone . . .!!"

yellow lab in blue vest on granite stone
yellow lab in grassy field

David & Service Dog for Hearing Mickey

Mickey has made an immediate impact on my life...He is attentive, alert, always ready to work, excited to do sound work, proud of himself (as he should be) when he does a good job. Mickey also has some skills that Sara wasn't trained for, and one big one is waking me up when I set the iPhone alarm, which is very, very, very helpful when I travel for work. Unrelated to his hearing role, Mickey has brought so much laughter and joy into my life, he's a funny boy, he's always happy, he is a lover that wants to hug and kiss and sit in your lap, anytime you're in the mood, he's in the mood 🙂

Thank you to the trainers and puppy raisers and foster and prison partners and everyone that had such an important hand in raising Mickey into the GOOD BOY he is!

From Puppy Raiser Susan: I have been a Full-Time Raiser for the past two years. I sat for Ricky a few times, and he will always be one of my favorite NEADS dogs. I only had him for a few weeks, but his desire to connect with me was so strong. He is a gentle soul who really loves his people. He is a dog who loves to work! I enjoyed his soft, sweet personality. He will make a true and loyal companion.

From Puppy Raiser Becky: I started my journey with NEADS as Full-time Puppy Raiser right as the pandemic started. Mickey was my first full time puppy I raised and was excited to be his weekend raiser as well.

Our favorite store to go to was the Market Basket grocery store in Leominster. There, we had many first-time successes and overcame a lot. We loved taking the train to Boston and going to the playgrounds too.

I admire his resilience and his confidence to prevail forward but still be aware of his surroundings. He was always ready to work and go.

The first weekend I had him out of prison I knew he was the complete package. It felt like the first time seeing him as a young adult Service Dog and no longer a big puppy. Prison really helped teach him how to direct his energy.