Summit Assistance Dog Graduation – Jan. 2014

| January 19, 2014 | 4 Comments
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Eight great dogs finished the program in 2013!

Eight graduates celebrated their partnership at the 2014 Summit Assistance Dogs graduation on Saturday, January 11th at The Highland Community Center in Bellevue, WA. Following some opening remarks by the Board President, Michelle Monroe, a guest speaker was invited to share their program experiences. The mother of a graduate spoke on behalf her eight-year old son, Christopher, who is unable to walk, talk, or feed himself. Christopher is cognitively aware and his new assistance golden retriever, Campbell, has brought a positive change in Christopher’s life by helping stimulate his awareness. While she was speaking, Christopher was scooting along the floor of the gym making noises. Campbell was in the front row and when they saw each other pure joy and playfulness abounded from both parties. It was a sight to see. Nothing tugged at the heart strings more than the look of happiness in the mother’s eyes.

summit chris cambpell

Campbell and Christopher share a joyful moment.

Next, Diana and Hyak (yellow Labrador Retriever) were on stage giving a demo which included retrieving items like a phones and gloves as well as demonstrating how Hyak can flip light switches and push handicap automatic door buttons. Hyak got  great praise from his handler and the audience. Then it was time for the presentation of diplomas. Each puppy raiser presented the graduating service dog to their new owner along with gifts and loving words. Summit gave each puppy raiser a framed picture of them with the dog they trained and cared for. Then Summit’s Executive Director, Sue Metzinger, presented the graduates a plaque and handmade quilt with the dogs name on it. Many kind and thoughtful words were exchanged. The smiles and the graduates faces were priceless.

Following some closing remarks, a slideshow displayed all the graduate teams in their journey from pup to new partnership. The audience shared “aww’s”, laughter, and applause. What a wonderful end to a touching ceremony.

Hyak, a Labrador donated by Misty Mountain Labradors, demonstrates how she can pick items up from the floor.

Diana with Hyak, a Labrador donated by Misty Mountain Labradors

I want to encourage everyone to get involved. As breeders and/or dog lovers, nothing is better than seeing a dog doing what they were bred to do. Donate your time, donate your money, donate your skills. Become a puppy raiser! Organizations like these value all types of donations. We’ve personally found it very rewarding by volunteering in various ways to Summit Assistance Dogs. We have donated funds, helped the organization win a Toyota by rallying votes, and most rewarding of all was donating pups (the “H” litter) and watching them go through the program. Hyak is one of them. All pups don’t fit the profile of a service dog. A few of our pups did not finish the program as they were meant to do something else; because of their keen sense of smell, they have gone on to do drug and bomb detection. We are very proud of all of them. I want to applaud a fellow Labrador Retriever breeder, Nina Mann (Harbortop Labradors) who attended to present a graduate –  a talented chocolate Labrador whom she bred and raised.

In addition to the wonderful service of producing capable and life changing service dogs, Summit Assistance Dogs harbors a program with the Monroe Prison Program. Inmates vie for the opportunity to train and care for service dogs in training. The program exposes the dogs to different people environments which is a great asset to their development while also providing inmates with a sense of purpose, pride, and accomplishment. One of the inmates made a comment saying, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do this and we, as a team, are going to keep empowering people with disabilities to greater heights”.

Summit Assistance Dogs will be posting updates to their website and Facebook page. Please feel free to visit both to find out more about the organization and the graduates.

Category : Breaking News, Good Stories

Lorraine

About the Author ()

Lorraine has owned Labradors for over 20 years and has bred them about half that time. A good day for Lorraine is experiencing the unbridled joy of her labs greeting her (in the morning, after work, or even after a short trip to the store), witnessing the pure happiness of her labs in the field retrieving or exploring on a hike, and snuggling with (or under) them on the couch at night. A great day is a good day (just described) plus having a litter of puppies around!

Comments (4)

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  1. Deborah Darsie says:

    Lorraine,
    I am one of the puppy raisers who visited the H-pups for one of their ‘parties’. I was also lucky enough to handle little Hyak when a few of us were on some training sessions.

    I was thrilled to learn that Hyak ‘went professional’, she has such a loving intelligence!

    FYI – we don’t consider their need to walk a different ‘career path’ “flunking”. 🙂
    We typically call it a career change. Just like us, the pups let us know when they just don’t get a lot of joy out of a specific job.
    I wish we humans did not have such a difficult time being so honest about our job preferences.

  2. Lorraine says:

    Deborah, yes, thanks so much for helping to socialize the H litter. Wasn’t that fun? It is very exciting to hear of their success.

    I apologize for using the term “flunk” and have updated the article. Agree that it’s best all around if we are happy at what we do. btw, I hear that Hope, Hyak’s sister, may be working at the Port of Vancouver using her talents in other ways. Kudos!

  3. Lorraine,

    Thank you for using your incredible writing talent to showcase our graduation ceremony. What a wonderful article and photos! And of course, thank you most of all for Hyak and all the other H litter dogs that have gone on to a wonderful life of providing valuable service. It was wonderful to have you at graduation. I’m going to pass on the link to Retriever Life to our supporters.

    Sue

    • Lorraine Lorraine says:

      Sue, it was great to see you there as well and receive very well-deserved recognition for the work you do. I enjoyed the ceremony and hope you can use the pictures I posted to SkyDrive. I was very fortunate to chat with Diana and get to be with Hyak after the ceremony. Yes, please let everyone know about Retriever Life and have them LIKE our FB page. A lot of good information shared.

      Best, Lorraine

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