Thursday, November 3, 2011

State House Goes to the Dogs!

In case you missed it, yesterday the State House went to the dogs! Assistance dogs that is.

The non-profit National Education Assistance Dog Services (NEADS), based in Princeton, MA, teamed up with ten legislators to give them a feel for what it was like to be accompanied by a dog trained to assist the disabled and deaf.

Representative Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden) had the opportunity to host “Lancer”, a yellow Labrador retriever, for the entire day. Representative Ferguson and Lancer attended Caucus, went to various meetings at the State House, and Lancer even got to go into the House Chamber.

The assistance dogs are initially trained by prisoners, at no cost to the state, for over a year. “Puppies on Parole” as they are affectionately referred to, also spend time with foster families becoming acclimated to social surroundings.

Since the program’s inception 35 years ago, NEADS has placed more than 1,300 dogs with disable and deaf individuals.