Logan CrawfordFeb 16, 2018, 9:14 pmFeb 19, 2018, 5:31 pm

Assistance dogs get a round of a-‘paws’ as they graduate training class

Canine Companions for Independence pairs people with disabilities with 4-legged friends


MEDFORD — Fourteen people, including four Long Island residents with disabilities, received assistance dogs from the organization Canine Companions for Independence on Friday.

Linda Herskowitz of Hicksville is one of the volunteers with the organization that raises and trains the service dogs to help people with disabilities. Herskowitz raised one canine for 18 months to become a full service dog and said goodbye to him at the graduation ceremony. The 4-legged animal was the third service dog Herskowitz has trained.

"It’s the most fabulous gift you can give to yourself. You can't describe it in words,” Herskowtiz said. “It’s an absolute gift to be able to raise a puppy and then give it to someone so deserving."

"Retrieve objects off the floor, turn light switches on and off, and maybe pull a manual wheelchair if it’s required, and just things that people may need assistance with in their day-to-day living," said Canine Companions for Independence’s Debra Dougherty in regards to how the service dogs will assist their new owners.

The 14 graduates spent two weeks learning how to give the assistance dogs commands.

Since the organization started in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence has paired thousands of dogs with owners in need throughout the country. Right now, there are more than 2,000 pairs nationwide.

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