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Naval Academy Family Receives Trained Service Dog

Posted on: March 27, 2013 08:00 EDT by MC2 Alexia Riveracorrea

Dogs serve their human partners in many different ways. Some are simply friendly companions, while some are guard dogs or pack animals and others help service members recovering from post traumatic stress.

For Daniel Tucholski , the 23-year-old son of an active-duty naval officer stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy, a dog means independence.

Tucholski was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, which affects his neuromuscular mobility. A trained service dog could help him with balance, retrieving dropped items and obtaining help in an emergency - in addition to providing companionship.

But at $35,000 for purchase, training and transportation, acquiring a service dog can be difficult, said Tucholski’s mother Eva Tucholski.

In a recent ceremony at Naval Support Activity Annapolis, the Tucholski family found out their wish for a service dog will soon be coming true.

Through a partnership between the Defense Commissary Agency and Del Monte Foods (parent company of Milkbone brand dog supplies), Tucholski will receive his dog next year. The donation covers all costs involved in acquiring an assistant dog through Canine Assistants, a non-profit organization that trains dogs for children and adults with special needs.

This is the 102nd service dog given to a military veteran or family member through this partnership, said Milkbone representative JD Fenessy.

“It can truly be a life-changing experience, not to just Daniel but his mom and dad,” he said.

During the ceremony, Tucholski was officially welcomed to the Canine Assistants family by a certified Canine Assistant trainer and introduced to a representative service dog. His own dog will be delivered next year.

“Today we were presented with a new life,” said Eva Tucholski. “Having an assistant dog for Dan will give us peace of mind knowing that he will always have a friend with him, and will alert us when something goes wrong. This dog will bring a meaningful lifelong relationship.”

It takes up to two years to train each dog through Canine Assistants, and the cost of training alone is $20,000. The organization runs entirely on individual and corporate donations.

Tucholski and his new best friend will go home together after they have both attended a two-week training camp at the Canine Assistants location in Alpharetta, Ga.

“Things like this prove that there are public organizations willing to show their appreciation to active duty military families,” said Eva Tucholski.

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