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A New "Leash" On Life

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Nearly a dozen Green Country residents now have a new best friend. Therapetics, a group that trains service dogs, gave away 11 dogs to people who sorely need them. Unlike most graduations, pets were more than welcome at Therapetics ceremony on Sunday. The News On 6’s Chris Wright reports the service dogs were the stars of the show, officially being paired with their owners, all of whom have disabilities.

"It's really emotional. There's a lot of tears cried at Therapetics, but they're happy tears because we know what we're doing is changing lives for the better,” said Lisa Bycroft of Therapetics.

The graduation ceremony was the culmination of two years of hard work. Trainers are given the dogs when they are puppies. They spend the next 18 to 24 months training them to perform tasks those with disabilities can't. That includes opening doors and retrieving phones and remotes.

The trainers admit that after two years, giving their dogs away was difficult.

"I know in my mind that he's not mine and that I have to pass him on. In your heart, you still get just as attached, and that emotion's there,” said trainer Dayna Dunse.

Therapetics says dogs like Susie, a black lab, are a god-send for people like Cortney Blanchard. Suffering from Spina Bifida, Cortney Blanchard was completely paralyzed after major surgery in December.

That's when she began working with Susie, and the two quickly bonded.

"Best buddy, helper, companion,” she said.

Cortney Blanchard was determined to walk again, and after months of rehabilitation, she did it on Sunday. With the help of her parents, she strolled over to receive her diploma. Her family says this is what Therapetics is all about.

They believe that without Susie there is no way she would be on her feet.

"Her goal was to walk at graduation with Susie. It was because of Susie that Cortney pushed and pushed until she could start walking,” said Cortney Blanchard’s mother Bernice Blanchard.

Therapetics is always looking for volunteer trainers, as well as people willing to donate dogs to the program.

For more information, visit www.therapetics.org.

Watch the video: Program Trains Dogs To Assist People With Physical Disabilities
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