QUINCY, Massachusetts – At Boston 25 News, we’re looking for ways to highlight the people in our community who are positive about our Positively Massachusetts segment.
A South Shore young man’s life is changing as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and this is thanks in part to the service dog industry, which is experiencing a surge in hardship as more people leave.
Jake Louzan and his service dog Cosmos quickly become best friends. Jake is 21 years old and lives in Quincy.
He was born with cerebral palsy and uses both a walker and a power wheelchair.
“It’s just another step towards independence. It will just be another piece of giving me my own life, ”he said.
Louzan and Cosmos recently completed an intensive two-week training program with the Connecticut nonprofit ECAD, which stands for Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities. Cosmos had 1,500 hours of training before being compared to Louzan.
“I like to say it’s like having your driver’s license. Remember when you got your driver’s license you felt free, like I could drive anywhere, I could see things. Well, the same goes for Jake now, plus he has a buddy to communicate with and the dog does everything for him, ”said Lu Picard, Co-Founder and Program Director of ECAD.
After slowing down during the pandemic, several New England-based service dog trainers, including Princeton-based NEADS, are seeing an increase in requests for service dogs.
“We saw some slowdown in the first few months of the pandemic, but interest now seems to be at pre-pandemic levels,” said Katy Ostroff, manager of customer service at NEADS.
Cosmos will allow Louzan more freedom and mobility, which gives his father Pete a sense of comfort.
“To me, I’m very relieved that Jake is in a place where he has a companion to take care of him and that this friendship, this connection, is huge,” he said.
Cosmos, who is a yellow lab and is almost two years old, can help Jake around the house, such as opening the fridge or getting things Jake might drop, like his cell phone.
Training a service dog is not cheap. Louzan and his family raised $ 25,000 for Cosmos. Louzan hopes Cosmos can transform himself from a service dog into a therapy dog so that he can eventually take him to senior centers.
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