In New Mexico, a group of 35 dogs have graduated from service dog training, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Inside the James A. Little Theater at the New Mexican School for the Deaf, graduating puppies and their parents lined up to celebrate the big occasion. The ceremony represents the completion of the dogs’ six-month training, and they will now go out into the community to support people with disabilities. Local organization Assistance Dogs of the West runs the training program.
New Mexico’s Best Service Dog Trainers
In 1995, according to information from the group website, founder Jill Stein created Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW). The group is rooted in “respect for the unique bond between humans and dogs and their unique ability to work as a team.” Since then, the group has maintained an emphasis on “compassionate training approaches” to prepare dogs to serve the community.
Another aspect of ADW’s programs is “teaching diverse student populations to support the work of professional dog trainers.”
Amazingly, ADW also trains dogs to serve people with various disabilities. Among these are “mobility disorders, autism spectrum disorders, developmental disorders, seizure disorders, diabetes and post-traumatic stress disorder.
ADW takes great care in matching dogs with the perfect parent. Apparently, dogs regularly go through several interviews until they find the right person. Some dogs will even go into public service, working in courtrooms and hospitals providing care and therapy.
Ali MacGraw present
Fascinatingly, famed actress and renowned animal advocate Ali MacGraw attended the ceremony, even giving a speech celebrating the dogs and the incredible work of ADW. During the ceremony, MacGraw said, “Assistance Dogs of the West has incorporated an innovative and powerful educational component where students of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities learn to train assistance dogs under the guidance of our professionals.”
Unlike other graduation ceremonies, this one did not feature a cap or gown. However, the dogs all wore “distinctive red vests” that marked their achievement. Hopefully there were also plenty of good pets and treats.