QUINCY, Mass. — At Boston 25 News we’re looking for ways to highlight the people in our community who are spreading positivity through our segment, Positively Massachusetts.
A South Shore young man’s life is changing as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and it’s thanks in part to the service dog industry, which is seeing an uptick in need as more people venture out.
Jake Louzan and his service dog, Cosmos are quickly becoming 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 chair.
“It’s just another step towards independence. It’s just going to be another piece of letting me have my own life,” he said.
Louzan and Cosmos recently completed an intensive two-week training program at the Connecticut non-profit organization ECAD, which stands for Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities. Cosmos had 1,500 hours of training before he was matched with Louzan.
“I like to say it’s kind of like having your driver’s license. Remember when you got your driver’s license you felt free, like I could go places, I could see things. Well the same thing for Jake now, plus he has a buddy who he can communicate with and the dog does everything for him,” said Lu Picard, ECAD’s co-founder and director of programs.
After seeing a slow 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 slow down during the initial months of the pandemic, but the flow of interest seems to be at pre-pandemic levels now,” said Katy Ostroff, manager of client services for NEADS.
Cosmos will enable Louzan to have greater freedom and mobility, which gives a sense of comfort to his father, Pete.
“For me, I have a huge sigh of relief that Jake’s in a place where he has a companion that will keep an eye out for him and that friendship, that connection, is massive,” he said.
Cosmos, who is a yellow lab and almost two years old, can help Jake around the house like opening the refrigerator or retrieve items that Jake may drop, like his cellphone.
Training a service dog isn’t cheap. Louzan and his family raised $25,000 for Cosmos. Louzan hopes Cosmos can morph from being a service dog into a therapy dog, so he can eventually bring him into senior centers.
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