Randy & Jethro: The Gift of Independence

This post was written by Randy Forant

randyforantA service dog is more than just a friend who is by my side wherever I go. No, a service dog is much more than that. A service dog is like being the mayor and having a key to every building in the city. A service dog is a door that leads to independence.

I first found out about NEADS when I was eleven years old in sixth grade. I had almost reached my goal of independence by then, needing help only with small things like getting objects under tables out of my reach and taking off my coat, but I still wasn’t at my ideal goal. I was motivated and did research on the benefits of service dogs. It wasn’t long after that that I was matched with a beautiful NEADS black lab named Dede.

Dede immediately became the best friend a guy could ask for. I instantly noticed a difference in my daily life. Those stubborn objects out of my reach suddenly became objects in my hand within seconds. We went to school together from sixth grade to my junior year in college. Most of all she was a friend that no matter what was by my side through the good days and bad. Unfortunately at the age of eleven Dede developed cancer and passed away last year. After ten years of independence I suddenly felt like that kid in sixth grade who was only 95% independent. Daily things I took granted of were now once again a challenge.

So the process started again. I went to NEADS and started over, discussing the basic tasks I struggled with and was matched with Jethro. I feel complete again and have regained my independence.We are without doubt best friends and we make a great team. I would like to thank all of those who donated and or gave their support to my independence. I would also like to thank NEADS, puppy raisers everywhere, and volunteers who dedicate themselves to training these special dogs.

It’s funny—when someone sees Jethro’s shiny red vest and asks what NEADS is, my response is two words: my independence.—Randy Forant

Austin & Chase: Lucky to have each other

This post was written by Austin Burchard

_MG_9593When I first got injured overseas in Afghanistan, I never thought about getting a service dog to help me because I just wanted to be as normal as possible doing stuff on my own without any assistance. When I was introduced to NEADS, I submitted my application to see what would happen. I was accepted and went through the training. Chase helps me get things off of the ground that I have dropped. He can open up doors and turn on light switches. He can get my phone if I fall out of my wheelchair. When I am in my chair and get too far forward, he can come and brace his body to help me get back into my chair. Chase has eased my wife’s nerves when I go to different locations without her. He has given me more confidence and I know that I can go anywhere without any fears. I have grown attached to Chase and I think that I am extremely lucky to have a dog that looks to help me and just wants to make me happy.— Austin Burchard

Amy & Delancy: A life-changing partnership

This post was written by Amy Reay

Amy Reay 005I was matched with NEADS Hearing Dog Delancy, and my life was changed. I had been told about the bond between service dogs and their partners, but never imagined how amazing that would be. Delancy is more than my partner, he is an extension of me, and the reason I keep going forward each day. Delancy does the usual hearing dog tasks, such as alerting me to the oven timer, a door knock, dropped items, my name being called,a smoke detector, and more. I watch his body language, his ears and his eyes and know from those cues when an airplane or flock of geese flies overhead, or when a child starts crying, or a car pulls into my driveway, or if someone enters a room. Little things that hearing people might take for granted are now a part of my world again. Beyond those immediate things, Delancy provides a healthier life for me because I now walk every day, get out of bed when I don’t feel like it and am overflowing with happiness just by looking at his adorable face. He has changed me in so many ways and I will always be grateful to him and to NEADS.— Amy Reay

The Worcester Fire Department: In Their Own Words

A Donor’s Story

D88441FB-3DC4-4D6E-AEC4-AA2B8024DC97The Worcester Fire Department 6K Road Race began in 2000 following the December 1999 Cold Storage Fire where six of our firefighters were lost. In their memory we seek to give back to the community that supported us so well through that tragedy. In 2011 we identified the NEADS Puppy Program as one of our charities. Since our initial introduction to the program, we have been able to see very directly how uniquely positive and valuable this program is. In 2011 following our initial donation we named and quickly met “Blaze.” During his training we were updated with pictures and his progress and really experienced his training firsthand. He has attended our race and we have had the pleasure of meeting him and watching him grow into the mature assistance dog he will become. In 2012 we again named another two puppies, “Rescue” and “Maurice,” and are excited and proud to have the opportunity to follow them through the program on their way to providing (2011-09) blaze sleepinginvaluable assistance to a deaf or disabled person. The WFD6K Race has donated to over one hundred charities since its inception but NEADS stands out to us through regular updates and firsthand knowledge of how our donation is being put to use. All of the people that we have met through the program have been wonderful to work with and it has been a great experience to become part of the NEADS extended family. We look forward to many years of continuing to support the NEADS program and look forward to watching their excellent work result in greater independence for people in need.— Lt. John Franco, WFD6K

Blaze was matched with Angela Mullally, a special education teacher at Rochester’s School 19. She and Blaze have together initiated a therapy dog program for the school, and Mullally has a lot of support from the administration. Below, you can see Angela and Blaze together.

11AM Cute Puppy — Rev is graduating with his new partner!

Visit us Monday through Friday at 11AM for your cute puppy fix! Each photo features a puppy who is currently (or was previously) in training to become an assistance dog for someone who is deaf or has a disability.

Do you remember the adorable 11AM Cute Puppy Rev? He’s graduating this Sunday with his new partner Emily!

Emily

Check out their training journey together:

 

11AM Cute Puppy — “I’m graduating this weekend!” says Gunny

Visit us Monday through Friday at 11AM for your cute puppy fix! Each photo features a puppy who is currently (or was previously) in training to become an assistance dog for someone who is deaf or has a disability.

Do you remember 11AM Cute Puppy Gunny from July and August 2011? He’s graduating this Sunday with his new partner Andres!

andres and gunny

Check out their training journey together:

11AM Cute Puppy — Owen is all grown up now!

Visit us Monday through Friday at 11AM for your cute puppy fix! Each photo features a puppy who is currently (or was previously) in training to become an assistance dog for someone who is deaf or has a disability.

Do you remember 11AM Cute Puppy Owen
from April 2012? He’s all grown up now and is matched with John!
John and Owen are graduating this Sunday! Congrats!

john