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Bedford, a black Labrador Retriever puppy selected for training in 2010 by the NEADS organization and sponsored by the GFWC Bedford Woman’s Club, has graduated after two years.
He is now an official Social Dog and has been matched with his partner, a hearing-impaired and wheelchair-bound boy named Christopher.
Thanks to all the local people who attended the Harlem Ambassadors’ basketball game in March 2010, and the game’s advertisers, the Bedford Woman’s Club was able to sponsor and name Bedford to be trained as an assistance dog. NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans is a non-profit organization that trains dogs for veterans and others.
At eight weeks old, Bedford began his two-year training by female prison inmates in Gardner, Mass.
Selected inmates team up with NEADS trainers in the Prison PUP Partnership. After several weeks of being exposed to diverse sights, sounds and smells and learning to remain calm, the puppies progress.
As they reveal their personalities and skills during training, they are guided toward a special role in helping their future human partners. Bedford demonstrated his compatibility with children and his gift as a “Social Dog,” rather than a dog assisting disabled combat veterans.
“We knew it was going to take a long time (for the training),” Yolanda Adams of the Bedford Woman’s Club said. “We’re so glad he was able to find a position and is able to help somebody.”
The club was kept apprised of Bedford’s progress along the way by the organization. “We were able to follow his career,” Adams said.
Social Dog Bedford helps Christopher interact and communicate with other people. He provides a bridge between Christopher and people who may stop to converse with him about Bedford, for example. In addition to helping Christopher to be less isolated, Bedford can retrieve and carry objects, press buttons, open doors, and turn lights on and off.
“Bedford has found his special place in life,” says John Moon, NEADS Communication Officer.
For more information about NEADS, go to www.neads.org, e-mail email@example.com, or call 978-422-9064. For more information about the Bedford Woman’s Club, contact Yolanda Adams at 434-609-7299.