Meet Garrison, the Service Golden Retriever Part 2

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This is a continuation of the first part of the article on Garrison.

Garrison’s Previous Partner

Credit: http://www.lohud.com/
Credit: http://www.lohud.com/

Prior to joining Berger, Garrison was paired with Amber Kingersky, a 12-year-old girl from Shelton, Connecticut, who battled muscular dystrophy and died of heart failure in 2011.

Kingersky’s mother tells lohud:

“We would take him everywhere with us,” said, Lisa Kingersky. “We would go to the store, and she would tell him to grab something. If she dropped something, they had trained him specifically to retrieve it and put the item in a box up on her wheelchair.”

For instance, if Amber’s pencil fell to the ground, Garrison would pick it up and leave it in the box. Amber had just enough strength in her fingers to grab it and draw.

Lisa Kingersky continues:

“As her disease became progressively worse, she was really home bound, so really at the end, he was really more of an emotional support for her,” said Kingersky. “He never left her side. Slept by her side. Sat by her side, watching TV.”

Garrison brings back fond memories of Amber, Kingersky said. They were a perfect match, she said.

 Kingersky said she is thrilled Garrison is helping Berger. “I wanted so much after she passed to hold onto him and cherish him,” she said. “But he needed to be out there and do his job. I couldn’t keep him and turn him into a house dog. I’m glad my choice to give him back to help someone else was the right choice (http://www.lohud.com/).”

Beginnings

ECAD was founded in 1995 in West Granby, Connecticut, by the couple Dale and Lu Picard, who have since bought a farm in Winchester, where they train the dogs. The organization is wrapping up its annual campaign, aiming to raise more than $1 million, but so far they are about $250,000 short.

Lu Picard came up with the idea after her father, a mechanical engineer, suffered a stroke just two weeks after retiring and had to move in with her. Relying on others to complete everyday tasks left him depressed, she said. She used a pet dog, Juliet, a mutt, to cheer him up.

Picard tells Lohud:

“I said, ‘Listen … I can help you become independent,” she recalls. “And I trained one of my dogs to do simple things, give him the remote control back and help him get up so he could grab his walker and walk around.” Within three months, her father was able to live on his own again.

Making a Difference

Recently, ECAD has been training dogs for children with autism.

Picard states: 

“As soon as we put a dog on the side of them, now the parents have a sense of security like an anchor, so if the child tries to run, they just tell the dog to wait and the dog would ground itself to stop the child from going forward,” Picard said. “If the child has emotional outbursts, the dog is there to comfort them.” Picard has enjoyed helping people over the years. “Think about it,” she said. “You get to hang around with dogs all day, train and play with them and then you get to give them away to people with disabilities. How can you not feel good about that?”

To donate to the nonprofit Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities, visit ecad1.org.

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