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Students learn about service dogs

By Madison Butkus
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Fourth and Fifth grade students at Deerfield Elementary School were in for a treat this past Wednesday as GOFI (Golden Opportunities for Independence) service dogs stopped by to teach them all about what exactly a service dog does.

This event was a part of the Intergenerational Program at the Deerfield School which brings together the important connection between fourth and fifth graders and the Westwood Council on Aging adults. Wednesday’s presentation was the fourth and final session of the school year. The previous session’s included a meet and greet, playing an array of different games, and a delicious ice cream social.

GOFI is a local service dog program that breeds, raises, and trains English Type Golden Retrievers for people with disabilities in order for them to gain independence. They have all sorts of events they do yearly to help raise money for their cause.

The event they did at the school is part of their outreach program in which they can teach the next generation about the importance of service dogs and how they truly help save lives for those who need them.

Dan Gruber, along with other staff and volunteers, brought five service-dogs-in-training. These adorable dogs, Rosy, Buddy, Dusty, Lucy, and twelve-week-old Milkshake, were there to show off not only what they have learned so far in training, but also some cool tricks as well.

Gruber went on to explain to both students and adults that these dogs are currently in medical alert training in which they will be able to detect when their owner is undergoing a medical condition like diabetes, high heart rate, or sudden loss of consciousness.

Volunteers demonstrated how these dogs can sniff out and alert to different scents as well as how they can turn on and off the lights for their owner(s) when needed. Gruber made sure to take any and all questions both students and adults had as well as leave plenty of time for everyone to pet the dogs. As an added bonus, students were even given the opportunity to read to the dogs!

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