Graduation of the 2021 Summer Class!

On July 17th, Patriot Service Dogs added four new teams to our family! 

The graduation ceremony was a celebration of the dogs, their veterans, and everyone who contributed to the training of the dogs for these past two years! Because not everyone could attend the graduation, we are sharing a photo gallery and more information about this graduation and future graduations on this blog. Hopefully, this will allow everyone a taste of what it’s like to see the veteran/service dog teams begin the next chapter of their lives! 

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The Stars of Graduation:

The Summer Class of 2021

 

Matt & Molly

Sponsored by: Villagers for Veterans

Leash Handoff: Roz Wenrich

 

Jim & Major

Sponsored by: Villagers for Veterans

Leash Handoff: Barb Buehler 

 

Kristy & Charlie

Sponsored by: Strut Your Mutt 

Leash Handoff: The Katsoulis and Rochelle Riebau

 

Chuck & Dakota

Sponsored by: Fraternal Order of Eagles

Leash Handoff: Steve Berke and Joyce Wichie

 

The Guest Speakers!

 

John Bourgon & Theo--John and Theo the Standard Poodle have been a PSD team for years! We hope seeing John and Theo together helped show the graduating veterans and our supporters in the audience how bonded the teams become over time. It was also great to check in on Theo. He looked handsome as ever!

 

Marie Bogdonoff--Founder and Director of Villagers for Veterans. Villagers for Veterans has been a dedicated supporter of PSD for more than 5 years! It was great to hear the perspective of a sponsor at graduation and especially meaningful since both Major and Molly were sponsored by Villagers for Veterans!

 

Sharon Boehmer & Radar--Many of our weekend raisers and volunteers remember watching Sharon and Radar go through a similar graduation in 2018, so it was full circle to see them return to speak about their life together. We were so thankful that Sharon and Radar made the long journey from Kansas to attend. They even came a few days early to speak privately with the new class of veterans! They rock!

 

Dave Harrold--Dave volunteered to read a letter written by our WOOF inmate-trainers about how meaningful PSD and the dogs are to them. It was great to have a small contribution from them at graduation since they are such a big part of the dogs’ training. Dave did a great job reading the letter and giving them voice. 

Will We Ever Go Back to Big Graduations?

Before the Covid-19 Pandemic, PSD held large graduations at the American Legion Hall. Over three hundred people attended the last big graduation! At the graduation on July 17th, we hosted about one hundred people. While this group was obviously much smaller, it did include representatives of each dogs’ sponsor, the weekend-raisers who were most involved in the dogs’ training, PSD board members, guest speakers, and the families of the veterans. Compared to the first pandemic graduation we held--limited to twenty-five people--this felt like a huge crowd! But, we know that there were still supporters and members of our community who would have liked to attend that couldn’t. 

It is our hope that our next graduation will be a large event! While we can’t predict what the world will throw at us all, we want to open up graduation to everyone who wants to witness the amazing moment the leash is handed from trainer to veteran. We will need more tissues!

Until then, we hope you enjoy the photos! 

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