San Diego

Service Dogs Paired With New Handlers at Graduation Ceremony

A group of guide dogs walked across a graduation stage in Oceanside, ready to help their new handlers

Twelve guide dogs are now ready to take the next step in their service careers and help change the lives of people with disabilities.

The dogs just completed training with Canine Companions and were honored Friday with a graduation ceremony in Oceanside.

Trainers walked the dogs across the stage and presented them to their new handlers. Not only did they gain a helping paw to aid them in their day-to-day tasks, they also gained a furry friend and companion to help support them emotionally.

“I drop my phone and my wallet all the time and he’ll pick them up, but just being a comfort buddy sometimes, too – having a condition like this can get pretty depressing sometimes so just having someone to help uplift my life and to always be there at my side will be great,” said Austin Parker, whose taking home Thiago.

Parker applied for a service dog about a year-and-a-half ago after he became paraplegic.

“I think me and Thiago are a perfect match. I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

The next wave of future service dogs, 36 puppies, are now being paired with volunteers who will raise them for the next 18 months.

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