If Vegas Could Talk

When Harvard University closed its campus in mid-March, Full-Time Puppy Raiser and Harvard student Amanda had to return home. Because she didn’t live near NEADS, she brought Vegas, the puppy she was training, back to our campus. Vegas is now living with NEADS Program Trainer Magen Blake, where he is continuing the work he started with Amanda. Amanda wrote Vegas a parting letter, and we’ve written what we imagine would be his reply if he could talk.

March 10, 2020

Dear Vegas,

Happy early 6-month birthday. I am so incredibly sad that our time together ended so shortly. In just two months, you have taught me so much about what it means to serve others so wholeheartedly and take all of life’s learning opportunities by the paws. You will make an amazing Service Dog one day and an even better life companion. I will never forget you, and I hope that you will always carry the memories we shared. 

As I sit here writing this, you are playing with your new bunny and hedgehog toys.

I hope that these toys help you remember your time at Harvard, but I also hope they remind you how special and loved you are.

Your biggest fan,

Amanda (Mama)

April 10, 2020

Dear Amanda,

What a surprise we had the other day! Magen was going to wash my vest and found your birthday letter tucked in the pocket. Turns out I had been carrying it with me every day since we said good-bye.

It’s hard to believe it’s been about a month since I last saw you. I’m adjusting to life with Magen and her two dogs, Harper and Kahlo, but I do miss my days at Harvard.

Magen says I am doing exceptionally (yes, exceptionally!) well in my training. You’ll be pleased to hear that I’m fully trained in wearing my Gentle Leader. I’ve learned how to speak, shake, sit stay, and down stay. I’m getting good at "up" and "under," and I’m fine-tuning my left and right commands.

It’s a lot to remember, but I’ve been told that I’m a willing learner. That’s a good thing, right? And guess what? I’m starring in some training videos Magen is making that will be used to help other Puppy Raisers learn how to teach all those commands.

I’ve grown quite a lot since you’ve seen me. Magen says that judging from the size of my paws, I have a lot more growing to do. I’ve even graduated to a medium-sized vest. We moved your letter to the pocket of this new vest, so I still carry it with me every day during training.

Speaking of my paws, I think I’ve figured how to use them to hold a Kong – makes it much easier to eat.

Did I snore when I was with you? Magen says I snore like a bear, and I know I make her smile because I sleep on my back.

Of course, when I’m not learning and practicing and starring in videos, I love to play with the toys you left me. Especially the red hedgehog. I absolutely love that guy.

I know I have lots more to learn on my path to becoming a Service Dog, but I want to thank you for loving me and giving me such a good start. Stay safe!



This is part of our COVID-19 coverage. See related updates here.