At NEADS, a “graduation” is an event that celebrates the partnership between a client and his or her Service Dog.

Twice each year, we take time out to honor our most recent Service Dog teams. These events allow family, friends and the general public to hear firsthand from our clients how a NEADS dog has changed their life.

Hundreds of people are involved in the breeding, training, and placement of each of our dogs, and our graduations give us an opportunity to celebrate and thank all of these individuals. These include breeders who donate puppies; dog officers and animal shelter staff who rescue future Service Dogs; puppy raisers and socializers, who offer their homes and hearts; veterinarians who donate medical services; volunteers who exercise and groom the dogs during their stay at NEADS, or speak to groups about our work; state coordinators, who interview potential clients and spread the word for us in their home state; prison inmates, officers and administrators who work with our Prison PUP Program; staff members, who devote their time to making sure NEADS runs like clockwork; and the individuals, organizations, small businesses, corporations, foundations and communities who come together to underwrite the cost of training these teams.

Graduation Event Sponsorship

Please consider sponsoring one of our moving, emotional graduation events. Hundreds of dog lovers, veterans, families and disability advocates attend our events. We honor our sponsors with visual recognition that our attendees can't miss! If you would like to sponsor a graduation, please contact us.

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The Route to a Lasting Partnership

  • Bonnie (3)

    The Dogs

    Most NEADS dogs are purpose-bred for temperament, health and personality traits best suited for service dog work. Some NEADS Hearing Dogs are acquired from animal shelters and rescue groups.

  • Jean (l) Banks (r) 1

    Early Learning Center

    Here staff work to housebreak the puppies and lay the groundwork for some beginning commands. Puppies have indoor and outdoor playtime, one-on-one time with staff and volunteers, and socialization sessions.

  • prison pup

    Prison PUP Program

    90-95% of NEADS puppies are trained in 7 correctional facilities throughout New England.

  • dogs in training

    Dog Training

    NEADS Dogs are trained to perform tasks and behave obediently through the use of positive reinforcement and clear leadership. We select dogs that are natural followers, so it is easy to guide them into choosing appropriate behaviors.

  • matching process

    Matching Process

    The more we understand about your lifestyle and expectations, the better we can pair you with a dog that fits with you. The matching process includes an online application and a comprehensive, in-person interview.

  • the trainers

    Client Training

    Clients spend one to two weeks at the NEADS campus learning how to work and live with their new Service Dog. Our trainers work closely with the new partners to ensure the match is a strong one.

  • (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


    Twice each year, we honor our most recent Service Dog teams, celebrating the partnership between a client and his or her Service Dog.