I have always been a dog person.
When I was injured in 2011, I briefly entertained the idea of having a dog, but felt I needed to take care of myself more and didn’t want to put extra responsibility on the caregivers who help me. You see, after my spinal cord injury, my life became a constant battle between different therapies, doctors’ appointments, home exercise, and just getting my life back to some normalcy. This took me a little over a year, but even then, I didn’t feel as though I could comfortably take care of a dog. Now that I have Oliver, I somewhat regret not getting a dog sooner.… but then, if I had gotten a dog sooner, it wouldn’t have been Oliver.
NEADS held its 76th Graduation Ceremony on November 4 at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School (“Monty Tech”) in Fitchburg, MA. Supported by family, friends, and NEADS staff, volunteer puppy raisers, and other supporters, NEADS Service Dog teams spoke about living with a Service Dog during a moving ceremony to celebrate their life-changing partnerships.In honor of…
Tootsie, an Assistance Dog for the Ministry, was matched with Pastor Stephanie Smith of Cathedral in the Night in October 2017. Since that time, she’s made quite an impact on the Northampton, MA congregation. Pastor Smith continues the story. Cathedral in the Night is out-of-the-box – literally, as we don’t have a building, and we…
Jocelyn, an Air Force veteran and NEADS first female TAD client, was matched with Service Dog Sammie in 2017. Here’s her story:
I now know why there is a sign in the NEADS client house that says, “Every once in a while a dog enters your life and changes everything.” Little did I know just how quickly everything would change for the better when Sammie entered my life.
The excellent training of a NEADS dog becomes the most valuable thing in a handler’s life. I know this whole experience has changed my life, and the lives of those I work with every day. – Christine and Courthouse Facility Dog Ann
Willis has helped tremendously since he came onboard. I can tell countless stories, but one in particular stands out. Willis was on the stand with a 13-year-old girl who had to testify against her father’s abuse. She bonded with Willis and it made it easy for her to talk with the Prosecutor and me about…
Thekla and Social Dog Keely
We could never have begun to imagine the wonderful, strong bond that Thekla and Keely would forge.
Thekla was matched with Keely about a year and a half ago. Keely is Thekla’s best friend. She is loyal, she comforts when sad; shares joy; gives love unconditionally. Keely helps Thekla navigate socially when out and about. At home she is one of the family. Keely leads by example because she is so patient, easy going, kind, friendly.
She is pure love and she’s taught us all how to love more.
-Nina, Thekla, and Keely
Josh and Social Dog Badger
Frances, Josh, and Badger
Badger has brought light back to Josh's life. He's Josh's best friend, consistently and reliably by his side. Badger's goofy personality makes him a perfect fit--Badger is on point when he should be, but extra silly on free time, making him more relate-able & perfectly Badger.
On the day of this photo, Badger had perfect service dog behavior while apple picking - temptation all around in the form of his favorite treat, and he patiently waited until he had permission to snack.
Suzie has been a tremendous asset to the court. You broke the mold with her!
Suzie’s role as a Courthouse (Trauma) Facility Dog is unique, but she fits it well. She and I work with five judges in four courtrooms and countless kids and families. The people who named her, raised her, trained, and nurtured her have given an invaluable gift to people they will never know. This yellow-haired gift can be found in the jury box with a child, on the bench with the judge, in an interview with a child victim of human trafficking, in a holding cell of a detention facility comforting a teen, and in a waiting room with a family. No one can imagine this place
Patricia and Courthouse Facility Dog Willis
Willis has helped tremendously since he came onboard. I can tell countless stories, but one in particular stands out.
Willis was on the stand with a 13-year-old girl who had to testify against her father’s abuse. She bonded with Willis and it made it easy for her to talk with the Prosecutor and me about the sexual allegations.
Christine and Courthouse Facility Dog Ann
The excellent training of a NEADS dog becomes the most valuable thing in a handler’s life. I know this whole experience has changed my life, and the lives of those I work with every day.
- Christine and Courthouse Facility Dog Ann
Mark and Service Dog Skipper
When I first found out that NEADS had a Service Dog for me, I will admit that I got excited, but when I was told his name was Skipper, I knew as a Navy Veteran this match was meant to be. After two weeks of training, I came home with Skipper, and although I knew my life would change, I had no idea how drastic that change would be.
I no longer dread going shopping. I know if I drop my keys or wallet, my partner will be there to pick them up. I no longer have to figure how to maneuver my scooter to press the door access button and to get in before it closes, because Skipper is always ready with a paw to push the button. At home, lights are turned on and off for me, and doors are opened and closed.
But the most important thing that Skipper has given me is the confidence to go out into the world and be a normal person again, leaving my handicap behind. It has only been three months with Skipper, but I cannot imagine life without him. People often talk about the love between an owner and their pet, but the love between a Service Dog and their human is the greatest love one can imagine.
- Mark and Skipper
Sarah and Service Dog Edison
Having Edison by my side is the most reassuring thing in my life! I have gained so much independence as a result of having him.
- Sarah and Edison
Melissa & Service Dog Clipper
Dreams do come true. Life is complete with Clipper. He's given me the happiness I've never known. And he has really made my dreams come true. --Melissa
Joseph & Social Dog Rave
[Rave] gave me my independence. -- Joseph
Ryan & Service dog Noonan
I don't know where to start. I just have to thank the NEADS staff just for everything. Noonan has just changed my life.