Meeting Service Dog Chester and Mike

May 13, 2024

By Sue Walsh, NEADS Maine Puppy Raiser since 2009

I always knew that Chester would graduate, although NEADS Trainer Dave was always honest about the high standards NEADS had, and he was good about setting expectations. But in my heart, I just knew.

Chester did complete his training and was matched as a Service Dog with a man named Mike. Chester was Mike’s second Service Dog from NEADS.

At that time, graduation was an evening reception at NEADS where the raisers and clients could meet. When I first met Mike, he was rather reserved, but he eventually opened up. He talked a lot about his first dog and asked questions about Chester as a pup. He also told me he had been two years without a dog because he had lost “his heart dog.” Of course, I told him of Moxie.

During our conversation, Mike said something that I carry with me to this very day. “Sue,” he said, “thank you. It’s so very nice to not be invisible.”

I must have had a puzzled look on my face, because he went on: “When I had my first Service Dog, people saw me. They held the door for me. They offered to reach items that were on the higher shelves at the grocery store. They smiled at us. When I lost her, it seemed like they didn’t notice me as much. They rushed by me, because they didn’t want to be behind the ‘slow guy’ at the door. Or I’d leave the store without items that I couldn’t reach. Now that I’m with Chester, I once again feel visible.”

And so, all these years later, I’m still puppy raising for NEADS and plan to for as long as possible.

Oh, and I did find my new “heart dog.” In fact, I found two, but they know how to share.

Read about Sue’s journey as a NEADS Puppy Raiser here.