Patriot Service Dogs celebrated the graduation of our 2022 class last weekend! It was a wonderful evening to end an intense and great week of advanced training with our four new veteran/service dog teams. While the ceremony was sold out, we know that there were many more people who would have liked to attend. So, we are sharing a video and photo gallery of the ceremony here.
Our two guest speakers, Yacov Margolese (PSD 2021 Graduate partnered with Tucker) and Jessica Schwarzkopf (Daughter of General "Stormin'" Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.), both gave thoughtful speeches. We were honored that Jessica gave us her time and told the crowd that her father would have been proud to know Norman is named in his honor. We were also thrilled to have Yacov and Tucker back! Because Yacov graduated in the midst of the Covid pandemic, his graduation with Tucker was very limited, so this was a great opportunity to celebrate them as a team. There were not many dry eyes left in the audience after Yacov's speech. Thank you to both Yacov and Jessica!
It was special to have both breeders of our four graduating dogs in attendance, as well. Traci Thompson drove all the way from her farm in Tennessee to see off Norman, Auggie, and Captain, and Lori Hoskins flew all the way from Iowa to see off Cutter. All four graduating teams had representatives from their sponsors in attendance too, and a great showing of volunteer weekend raisers! This kind of ongoing support is part of what makes the PSD community so special.
For the first time at a public graduation, representatives from Florida Department of Corrections joined us! The WOOF program and DOC are such an important part of our training, but the officials who watch the dogs grow and train from the time they are little puppies don't often get to see the results of all that work, so we could not be happier to have Major Cooper and Assistant Warden Tosi with us for the evening.
The phrase might be overused, but it truly takes a village to train a service dog and on graduation night, that village came together. PSD thanks everyone in attendance and everyone who could not be there but supported our dogs through the last two years.
Click the button below to be re-directed to Yacov's speech on our YouTube channel.
Some things you might not know about the class of 2022 and this graduation:
- The Class of 2022 included our 50th dog placed!
- All four dogs in this class were donated to PSD by their breeders.
- The training week and graduation were sponsored by Pharmacists Mutual and the Dunnellon Knights of Columbus.
- We placed our first successor dog in this class.