2013 Puppy Duck Race!

Saturday May 18 was the third annual NEADS Puppy Duck Race & Fair. The weather was beautiful and the crowds were enthusiastic! From the sack races to the freshly popped pop corn to the burgers on the grill, it was a great old fashioned community event enjoyed by kids, adults and canines! Thank you to everyone who attended, volunteered and donated. Please check out the pictures below.

Crew’s Birthday Party!

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As those of us in the Northeast suffer through a frigid cold snap, I thought it might be fun to be reminded of what there is to look forward to in the Summer! Some of our dedicated puppy raisers threw a birthday party this past August for their assistance dog in training Crew, and used the opportunity to fundraise for NEADS! Please enjoy the pictures below, and a full account of the party by Crew’s puppy raiser Amanda Shannon:

A Special Boy turns One! A Pawty for Crew!

August 11th, 2012 was a day of celebration. Exactly a year prior, handsome Crew was born into this world to a pair of equally stunning parents. About 8 weeks later he found his way to NEADS to be trained by an inmate at the ACI in Cranston, RI to hopefully some day become a Service Dog. We had the pleasure of being his weekend puppy raisers and since we have such wonderful family and friends that love Crew too, we decided to celebrate his special day by having a bash! Since Crew has everything he could want here at our home we decided that the party should not only celebrate Crew’s birth but also be a mini-fundraiser to buy items for the pups at our local prison, JJ Moran.

About 30 friends of NEADS came to celebrate Crew and support NEADS.  They braved the threat of a downpour (we had a tornado alert the night before) and made their way to our home where we had promised a fun time! A beautiful welcome sign adorned the front door (made by my talented friend, Cristina) so people new that they were in the right place for the fun! Dog quotes filled our walls (by our friends Natalie & Dave), a poster of Crew’s first year hung for everyone to see his amazing growth in such a short time, a slideshow of more photos was on the computer.  We had our donation bin available for people when they arrived and anyone who donated received a raffle ticket for each dollar they donated (there was a basket of goodies for the person that won) and two guessing games – how many dog treats are in the jar/how many human treats are in the jar (so many good guesses!!)

Outside was a Scooby Doo Piñata filled with snacks donated by Jack’s Snacks, a dog bakery based out of Cranston RI, where the pups could “tug” on the string and whoever tugged the “right” string would open the bottom to let the goodies out. We had bobbing for Planet Dog Orbees, a wading pool, games for the humans and a few other games for both human and canines together. We also had a “paint a paw” area where all of the dogs that attended could paint by using their paws.  We think it came out cute, what do you think?

Of course no pawty is complete without a birthday cake and we didn’t disappoint! Thanks again to Jack’s Snacks, we had a beautiful cake especially for the dogs and then not to leave the humans out, paw cupcakes for them. For the doggie bags to take home we included a Natural Balance log, which was a generous donation from Natural Balance, as well as a few other fun things for humans and canines alike, and for the pups that attended they received a personalized peanut butter bone shaped treat from Jack’s Snacks. Cute!

Altogether we raised $291 which includes donations from friends that weren’t able to make it to celebrate his day. These funds were spent on yard toys, individual toys and treats for the inmates to use to train the pups in their care. It was tons of fun!

Another Language: Writer Jeanne Braham Explores the Relationships between People and Their NEADS Dogs

We are thrilled to announce the forthcoming new book Another Language: Portraits of Assistance Dogs and Their People by Jeanne Braham, which will be released on March 15, 2012. Photographs by Robert Floyd.

Here is a description of the book:

The profiles in Another Language celebrate the healing bonds between service dogs and their people. Through these oral histories, and backed by the power of photographs, sixteen people who have worked with the NEADS/Dogs For Deaf and Disabled Americans program in north-central Massachusetts tell their own stories in their own words. You’ll meet an Iraq war veteran, people who use wheelchairs or who have balance problems due to debilitating disease, trainers who raise service puppies and others who work with NEADS’ human clients, and more. Writer/interviewer Jeanne Braham, along with photographer Robert Floyd, bring the stories to life in a way that’s respectful, compassionate, and compelling.

Advanced Praise:

The importance of assistance dogs cannot be overstated, and Jeanne Braham has done a wonderful job of describing them.  The photos are spectacular, and no one will read this book without gaining insight into the relationship of these dogs and the people who benefit from their good sense and loyalty.  It’s a must read for anyone who has such a dog, and even more a must-read for anyone who needs one but does not have one.  Congratulations to Braham for putting this all together, and congratulations to the dogs she describes. —Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Anthropologist and author Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’s books include the best-selling The Hidden Life of Dogs and The Social Life of Dogs.

In crisp and lucid prose Braham records the lives of a dozen individuals and their canines, ranging from hearing dogs to walker dogs for balance to trauma dogs for returning vets with PTSD. Those of us who have dogs for pure pleasure marvel at the skills these animals have mastered and their intense loyalty to the humans they care for. A rich story, well told. —Maxine Kumin
Pulitzer-prize winning poet Maxine Kumin’s most recent collection is Where I Live: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010.

Jeanne Braham’s book Another Language profiles independence, hope and opportunity.  These portraits highlight our mission of matching the very best trained assistance dogs to our client’s individual needs, whether our Canines for Combat Veterans, Dogs For Deaf and Disabled Americans, or our new program Trauma Assistance Dogs. We at NEADS are thrilled to see the work we do every day portrayed so eloquently in these pages.  —Gerry DeRoche
Gerry DeRoche is Chief Executive Officer of NEADS/Dogs For Deaf and Disabled Americans

For more information, or to make an advanced purchase, visit the Bauhan Publishing website or Amazon.com

Austin John Burchard Visits R.I. Prison where his Assistance Dog was Trained

NEADS client Austin John Burchard, who was recently matched with assistance dog Chase, visited the Rhode Island prison where Chase was trained — and met the man behind bars who trained Chase.

Click here to read the article from WPRI.

Here are some photos of Austin and Chase learning how to work together, when Austin came to the NEADS campus to be matched with his assistance dog Chase:

The Prison PUP Partnership, from a Client’s Perspective — By Brenda Bodanza

Brenda, with Liberty, at a fundraiser for the Prison PUP Partnership: "To do a fundraiser for NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans is a way I can give back for the blessing they have given to me with Liberty, my service dog!"

It takes a multitude of people committed to providing unconditional love and dedication to train a service dog, including breeders, weekend puppy raisers, sponsors, trainers and inmate handlers in the Prison PUP Partnership. I feel if it weren’t for the Prison Pup Partnership, clients wouldn’t be able to receive their furry canine aides as quickly as they do.

My own personal experience of receiving my service dog Liberty — and having the opportunity to witness firsthand where she was trained — was an opportunity I will never forget. In April 2010, I ventured to JJMoran Medium Prison in Rhode Island to meet the inmate handler that gave his heart to this furry little lady.

I observed four immate handlers, as they displayed their pride (like a parent showing off their child). They had the dogs run through their tasks, showing us the added specialties each dogs was trained to do.

Of course Liberty’s handler had my eye, as I watched him demonstrate with Liberty her abilities to open a door, take out a blanket, close the door and come put it on my lap. I watched her flush the toilet and put her paws in the sink to wash, and then to my amazement, her handler held up cue cards that stated commands and with out any words, Liberty performed each and every one of them with a bow at the end. She can also turn lights on and off, open and close the door, retrieve items dropped on the floor, bark for help, and many other things. And all this time I was watching this man glow, as he beamed for the unselfish tasks he had prepared for me through Liberty.

I truly feel regardless of the crimes that took place in these inmate handlers’ lives, it is God’s given work to be able to look past these mistakes and appreciate, as well as acknowledge, what these handlers have done for us. Training these pups is never an easy task. It is constant dedication, loyalty, perseverence and commitment. I totally feel the Prison Pup Partnership is the added foundation of NEADS.

Brenda, with Liberty: "Fundraising for NEADS is the least I can do for the impact these handlers have made on my own life!"

I had the pleasure of listening to the Deputy share his pride about the benefits of the NEADS Prison PUP Partnership, as well as his pride for what the handlers do. The prison staff and inmate handlers work together with much admiration for this outstanding program. This is such a demonstration of how everyone is united for the mission of NEADS. Everyone’s common interest is in the making of the service dogs.

I have had the utmost pleasure of meeting prison staff members from the Gardner and Shirley Prisons, with whom NEADS is also partnered, and heard their enthusiasm over the Prison Pup Program as well. I listened to their admiration regarding the great job these inmate handlers do.

It is so rewarding to hear so much positive feedback about the Prison PUP Partnership, where one can put aside any personal judgment about the inmates and instead focus on the commitment and talent within those prison walls. One never excuses the crimes that brought the inmate handlers to prison, but the Prison PUP Partnership program offers these inmates the opportunity to nurture, to be compassionate, to be a part of humanity with a goal in mind…the making of a service dog! So I applaud these handlers for what they do for the displaced veterans and disabled humans like me!

I have great pride in the Prison Pup Partnership for I have seen firsthand God’s amazing plan through this program — it is more than inmate handlers giving back to society, it is teaching that everyone involved can come together as a unit to support and encourage each other, and acknowledge that we all are human and can learn from one another!

What is the Prison PUP Partnership?
90-95% of NEADS puppies are trained in correctional facilities throughout New England. NEADS began the Prison PUP Partnership in 1998 at North Central Correctional Center in Gardner, Massachusetts. Since then, we’ve added more than a dozen additional participating prisons to our partnership. Our statistics show that dogs trained by prison inmates complete the additional required advanced training in half the time of most dogs raised exclusively in foster homes. Inmates are able to provide more consistent training at a higher level simply because of the amount of time they are able to devote to the dogs. This enables us to place dogs faster with people in need.