Mililani resident Jordan Brub, 11, and his service dog, Harper, are the 100th team to graduate from a Maui nonprofit’s program that helps people with disabilities find more independence with the help of dogs.
Brub has a spinal cord injury and uses a motorized wheelchair. Harper is a one-year-old Golden and Labrador retriever mix that has learned more than 90 commands.
Harper can open and close doors, turn lights off and on, and retrieve items, as well as alert Brub’s parents if Brub has difficulty breathing at night.
The graduation ceremony was a milestone for Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, which launched in 2000 with the mission of helping children and adults with disabilities become more independent with professionally trained dogs — at no charge. Saturday’s ceremony at Hope Chapel in Kihei celebrated a total of 12 assistance dog teams.
One of the graduating dogs was Angel, a yellow Labrador retriever, who will work with patients at Straub Medical Center alongside her handlers, occupational therapists Dale Yasumoto and Katie Tam, providing therapy and comfort.
Another graduate was Clover, a two-year-old black Labrador retriever, who will work with Dennis Dunn, director of the Victim Witness Assistance Program, at the Honolulu prosecutor’s office. He will serve as a comfort dog for victims and witnesses of crime, following in the steps of Pono, who died over the summer.
In addition to providing assistance dogs, the nonprofit also runs a “Paws for Reading Program,” bringing canines to local libraries to help children learn to read, a veteran’s program and medical scent detection program.
“We appreciate the tremendous community support we have received over the years,” said Assistance Dogs of Hawaii executive director Mo Maurer in a news release. “We are so thankful to have the opportunity to impact the lives of so many people. We are excited about continuing to develop the potential that dogs have to help people in need.”