Byron Nelson High School Graduates Potential Service Dogs

At Byron Nelson High School senioritis is setting in, at least among the smallest soon-to-be graduates.

At least four puppies and their student companions are part of a unique program through Future Farmers of America that focuses on training potential service dogs. 

Everywhere the students go, the dogs go, too. 

"It's a lot of work, a lot of responsibility," said senior Corynne Turner, who's raised and trained four dogs throughout high school.

"With these dogs you have to make sure they behave well in public and stay calm around a lot of different people and situations," said student handler Ashiley Hall.

Twenty one dogs have graduated from the program and their photos hang proudly on the wall. For teacher Natalie Eddelman it is the student handlers who make her the most proud.

"It's amazing," said Eddelman. "Just to see the growth in the students is incredible." 

The students receive the puppies when they are six weeks old and spend every day teaching patience and giving commands. Then, nearly a year later must give them up.

"As much as I want to say I love these dogs and I want to keep them, I understand that they're going to a better purpose," said Turner. "I've learned giving away is so rewarding."

Following completion in the FFA program, the dogs will attend a formal school and be evaluated. Some may become guide dogs or be used for medical alerts or comfort dogs.

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