This class of 2011 in Milton went right to work after graduation, as the Canine Assistants went home with their new companions to help them with tasks such as opening and closing drawers, turning lights on and off, as well as being a lifelong companion.
A total of nine dogs graduated May 19th from the May 2011 class. Each dog was paired with an individual with special needs to help.
"Tig was a very easy to train dog because of her personality," said Tib, an employee of Canine Assistants said of one of the dogs graduating from the May 2011 class.
Tig has been matched with Adriene, a young woman with special needs.
"She was a good fit for Adriene because she's very calm and analytical. She's able to read Adriene and kind of anticipate her needs, and that's the kind of dog that she wanted: someone who could calm her, a dog that would be there for her, help her parents out when she needs her. They know that with Tig around they can do things that they wouldn't otherwise be able to do like leave Adriene in a room alone for a little bit because they know Tig is there.
The Canine Assistants' employee said that's part of the training and part of the matching, realizing what dog goes with what person, "and Tig and Adriene were just perfect for each other, and it was very obvious very quickly."
Adriene's parents are happy their daughter was paired with Tig.
"Well, you know, when you have a special needs child that's almost 21 years old, to get a special friend is just so special for her, and that's really what we were looking for," said Scot, Adriene's father. "We didn't need a dog that had a lot of skill, we just needed someone to be her friend, and we certainly got that today."
Training Tig for Adriene cost about $20,000, which Wells Fargo helped to raise.
"I just want to thank Wells Fargo for their partnership with Canine Assistance," Tib said.
The Canine Assistants' worker said Tig is going to be a great companion for Adriene, helping her socially and emotionally.
"Tig is a very loving dog, and Adriene really needed a friend, and I think it will be a really great partnership for a long time," Tib said.
Wells Fargo made the match possible, Tib said, and they hope to keep in touch with the family and keep Wells Fargo part of everything they are doing.
The graduation ceremony began with a prayer blessing the day and the partnerships that were about to be formed, and then lead into a slideshow of the dogs and their soon-to-be owners that left the audience in tears.
At the graduation, each partner was presented with a diploma, and both human and canine received a hug. Likewise, following the event, caterers provided not only cupcakes for the humans but also special cupcakes for the dogs.