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.

Highlights of Our Recent Graduations

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What Makes a World Class Service Dog Team

  • Bonnie (3)
    World Class Service Dogs

    Most NEADS dogs are purpose bred for temperament, health and personality traits best suited for Service Dog work. Some hearing dogs are acquired from animal shelters and rescue groups.

  • dogs in training
    Dog Training

    NEADS Dogs are trained to perform tasks and behave obediently through the use of positive reinforcement and clear leadership. Socialization starts as soon as the puppies arrive in the Nursery and Early Learning Center, and continues in correctional facilities in MA and RI as part of our Prison PUP Program.

  • 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.

  • Ahh...the fond days when Edison and I were first getting to know each other. My trainer was working with us so I could learn how to structure his playtime. He was having a blast and I absolutely loved learning about my new helper! #day139of365
    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.

  • (Photo: Mary Silva)
    Support for the Live of the Dog

    NEADS is invested in the success of each Service Dog team and offers ongoing support for the life of the dog.