Assistance Dogs of the West Graduation -
Ali McGraw and puppy

We can all use a little help, now and then. Some of us require more assistance than others. Who better to take on that role than man’s best friend? That’s where Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW) comes in, by training our canine friends to help those in need with essential tasks, so they can increase independence and improve their quality of life. Every year ADW invites supporters and the community to take part in a very special event, by sharing the love that goes into creating the magical matches between service dogs and their people.

This year, the graduation ceremony for a new group of assistance dogs will be held at the James A. Little Theater, located at the New Mexico School for the Deaf. Hosted by actress and long-time animal advocate Ali MacGraw, the ceremony presents an opportunity for clients to tell their stories about how their lives have been changed by these four-legged wonder pups. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll come to appreciate our furry friends that much more, on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, beginning at 6 p.m. The event will even be live-streamed for those who cannot attend in person.

Assistance Dogs of the West places service dogs with clients requiring individual and family support for mobility impairments, autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, seizure disorders, diabetes, and Veterans with PTSD. They do so by building relationships between the dogs and their people, in order to prepare them for a lifelong journey together.

Established in 1995 by Executive Vice President Jill Felice, Assistance Dogs of the West promotes qualities of kindness, gentleness and respect in the training of their dogs, which in turn facilitates the deepest possible bond between the animals and their humans. Every ADW dog learns a minimum of 90 commands, but additional training educates them to serve more complex needs, such as medical alert and PTSD disabilities.

In some cases, courses are designed to teach clients to train their own furry friends to be a service dog. Students also play a big role. Since its inception, ADW has trained more than 2500 student trainers, aged 8 – 18 years old, in New Mexico through the ADW Assistance Dog Student Trainer program, the largest of its kind in the world. Promoting community is a vital part of what makes ADW such a valuable asset, not just to those in need, but to any interested in learning how to interact with service dogs.

But it isn’t just people with disabilities who benefit from the gentle assistance of these amazing animals. In recent years, the organization has expanded its training program to include work in professional group settings, from private therapeutic practices, to drug treatment centers, to college campuses, and even judicial districts. Because, you see, man’s best friend is eager to please and everybody benefits from a friendly, well-trained and respectful animal. ADW fills that niche, by building successful working relationships between service dogs and their people that open doors to new opportunities.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of that movement, this annual graduation ceremony is a great place to find out more. Tickets for the event are $15, but donations are also gratefully accepted. For more information on the graduation ceremony for Assistance Dogs of the West, visit the website.



This article was posted by David Salcido

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