Dressed in cap and gowns, taking pictures with their family these graduates are ready for the next step in their careers.
“There is just so much that goes into raising and training a service dog such that the dogs that make it as service dogs are exceptional and I’m glad to know what it takes to get a dog to that point,” said Virginia Corrigan, Assistant professor.
These three puppies, Koda Esme and Tucker graduated from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine’s Puppy University program.
“I felt blessed every single time I came to work knowing that down the line, I would be making an impact in someone’s life down the line,” said Madison Steele, Student who took care of puppies.
Veterinary students at the college helped raise the dogs and teach them skills they will need to become a fully trained service dog.
“It’s been a big village raising these puppies as opposed to a family. There tasks are mostly picking up dropped items, tugging things which could be doors or laundry baskets. Going to get the phone, getting help. Any combination of those types of things,” said Connie Kniseley, Puppy Program Manager, St. Francis Service Dogs.
After the dogs are trained, they will be placed with a partner who needs them for love and support.
“They’re with them every step of the way and for someone who has a disability whether it’s visible or invisible that dog really makes all the difference for them,” said Virginia Corrigan, Assistant professor for Veterinary College.
But for now, these pups are celebrating their graduation with a smile and some treats.
The dogs will continue their training with St. Francis Service Dogs which is a non-profit based in Roanoke.