Assistance Dogs of Hawaii (ADH) will celebrate the graduation of its new teams Sunday, Dec. 14 at their main campus in Makawao. The teams participating in the graduation ceremony are currently attending ADH’s Team Training Camp on Maui.
The graduating teams include Medical Scent Detection Dogs Abe, Aka and Angel–two-year-old Labrador litter-mates that are participating in a groundbreaking research study at the Rehab Hospital of the Pacific in Honolulu. Known as The “A” Team, they are the first dogs in the world to work in a clinical research study in a hospital setting. They have been taught to provide early detection of certain life threatening conditions with extremely high accuracy rates. The results of the research will soon be published in a medical journal.
Assistance Dogs are carefully selected based on breed, health, and temperament. Those selected for the program begin training at seven weeks old. They must complete four stages of training: Kindergarten, Basic, Advanced and Graduate, which takes up to two years. Service Dogs learn over 90 commands and are trained to perform specific skills that will assist their partners. The graduating dogs were recently matched with their new partners after completing training and passing rigorous health and temperament screenings.
The graduating partners include Hawaii Prosecutor’s Office and Courthouse Dog Faith. Faith is a two-year-old black Labrador who works full time assisting Mitch Roth and the Hawaii Prosecutor’s Office. She provides courage and comfort to children who are victims of crime and helps them to find their voice through the difficult legal process. Next year, Hawaii will become the first state in the country to have a Courthouse Dog in every jurisdiction.
Also graduating will be Stephanie and her Social Therapy Dog Scout. Stephanie and her new best friend and companion Scout live in Makawao. Scout is a three-year-old Labrador Retriever who helps Stephanie with social interactions and tasks around the house. On the weekends, they both enjoy paddling with the Kihei Canoe Club.
Emmitt, a Golden Retriever, is graduating as a Maui Homeless Resource Center and Therapy Dog. Emmitt brings fun and friendship to children of families living at the Resource Center in Wailuku. The children at the Homeless Resource Center appreciate their regular visits with Emmitt, as many of them had to leave family pets behind during this challenging time in their lives.
Teams that complete Team Training Camp celebrate their accomplishment with a graduation ceremony that marks the beginning of their new lives together. Past graduates, trainers, puppy raisers, breeders, sponsors and supporters all attend graduations and join in celebrating the successful accomplishment of each graduating team.
Assistance Dogs of Hawaii is a non-profit organization that provides Service Dogs to children and adults in Hawaii with physical disabilities. ADH is based on Maui and has recently opened a new state of the art training facility. ADH specializes in training Service Dogs for people with disabilities and assists in placing Guide Dogs for the blind, Hearing Dogs for the deaf and Seizure Response Dogs for people with seizure disorders. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, ADH places its Service Dogs free of charge to the recipients. ADH also provides free follow up visits and training for the life of each team. This is especially important for graduates that may have disabilities that are progressive. The dogs continually learn new skills that may be needed to help their partners.
ADH also reaches hundreds of people in the community each week through a variety of therapy programs designed to benefit, support and enhance the lives of people with physical and developmental disabilities in our community.
Photo of Steph and Scout courtesy Assistance Dogs of Hawaii