At Winsted, ECAD assistance dogs graduate with new companions

WINSTED – Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities held its first graduation ceremony on March 23, 2022 and celebrated the completion of the two-week team training session by five teams of clients and assistance dogs, and one dog establishment and its two masters.

The graduation was made even more special because three of the clients were veterans who had returned to ECAD for their “successor” or second service dog, said Dale Picard, in his opening remarks. He is the co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Winsted.

“When a client comes back to ECAD for a second assistance dog, he validates the organization and the quality of the dogs we train. It makes me very proud, said Lu Picard, co-founder and director of programs.

Lu Picard went on to tell new teams that “having a successor dog is not a repeat. but a new chapter in your life.

“And, thanks to a generous grant from the Marks Family Foundation, which is dedicated to helping veterans, you didn’t have to wait too long to get a dog that could give you the help you’ve been waiting for from Service. Dogs Lizzie, Honey, and Stevie,” she said.

The veterans and their service dog teammates were Ralph Talbot and Mango; Bill Holmberg and Cheyenne; and Leslie Wohfeld and Mulligan. They span a wide range of military service and all suffer from the invisible wounds of PTSD.

Each dog has been trained to assuage the fear of crowds of their person, to be alert to the onset of flashbacks and nightmares, to calm and alleviate anxiety. This help will allow the veteran to lead a more normal, full and enjoyable life, the Picards said.

Talbot was a US Army medic in Vietnam. Holmberg served in the Air Force in the 1960s and had top secret NSA clearance. Wohfeld served in the military for 26 years and fought in Afghanistan. Along with helping Wohfeld deal with PTSD, Mulligan will also help him improve his mobility and stability as Wohfeld suffered injuries to his lower legs.

Two members of staff from the Christian Counseling Center of Greater Danbury have also returned to ECAD for a second dog. They graduated with the dog from the Apricot establishment.

Chris Barrett, the center group coordinator, will be Apricot’s main manager and Glenn Johnson, the office manager, will be the backup. Apricot will join Olympic facility dog ​​”Ollie”, another ECAD alumnus, to help the center in myriad ways as an integral member of staff. She will attend counseling sessions, help people cope with bereavement and visit schools and nursing homes.

Dale Picard thanked the many people present at the training center on Newfeld Road, as well as those who watched the ceremony online, for their presence. He reminded everyone that ECAD always needs volunteers, especially with the socialization of puppies who will one day be assistance dogs.

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