SUNDERLAND, Mass. (WWLP) - A Sunderland couple is getting some Presidential appreciation for their efforts to train dogs that help people with disabilities.
Mary Ellen and Thomas Fydenkevez will march in the Inaugural Parade in Washington on Monday; accompanied by Fenway, the Labrador retriever they are currently training.
The couple works with a nationwide organization called Canine Companions for Independence , which provides trained dogs to assist adults and children with disabilities.
Mary Ellen explained for 22News that under the program, they receive a dog two months into the animal's life, and then train it for 17 months. The dog is then brought to another trainer, before it is given to a person with disabilities, who will keep it for life.
Fenway, who is now 17 months old, is the third dog that the Greenfield Community College professor and her husband have trained.
She told 22News that they're excited that they'll be able to march in the parade, but at the same time are slightly sad that Fenway will have to move on to a new trainer soon.
"We are so thrilled , we're very honored to be going to the Inaugural Parade. Especially because it's all about the dogs and the service that we do with raising service dogs," Mary Ellen said.
Mary Ellen said that they hope to train many more dogs to help people with disabilities.
To find out more about this organization, go to the Canine Companions for Independence website at cci.org