It was just a few weeks ago that Warrior Canine Connection’s Class of 2023 celebrated its paw-some graduation. The ceremony, which was hosted virtually, had tails wagging and eyes misty.
These incredible assistance dog teams shared snippets of their military journeys and heartwarming tales of their newfound furry partners. It was a celebration, a round of applause, and a good ol’ dose of inspiration all wrapped into one fantastic virtual event.
This year’s graduating class is comprised of Veterans and Veteran families and 21 assistance dogs, including service dogs, facility dogs and military family support dogs.
Among the graduates is U.S. Coast Guard Retired Petty Officer Second Class James Riley who shared the following about his service dog, Ashley.
“I love the mission, and I love that she’s made a difference in other Veterans’ live,” said Riley. “It’s powerful, she’s like my rock.”
A highlight from the virtual ceremony included keynote speaker General (Ret.) James Mattis. During his heartfelt address, General Mattis, who has a WCC dog named after him, shared some wisdom that left us inspired.
“WCC’s mission is one that carries with it a sense of trust and purpose,” said General Mattis. “Knowing the dogs are trained by fellow veterans instills that same sense of trust at the heart of our military. It’s the principle that when the chips are down, you can count on the comrade to your left and right on the battlefield. So too can you trust in WCC that they took seriously the mission to prepare these loyal, steadfast comrades in arms for their buddies. Equally and perhaps more importantly is that the veterans training WCC dogs are themselves able to find a new sense of purpose and often times peace long after their military service.”
We also celebrated some other heroes of the WCC community — our Puppy Parents! These amazing volunteers pour their hearts into caring for, training and showering love upon our service dogs in training for their crucial first two years of life. Their unwavering dedication and the sacrifices they make play a monumental role in the success of WCC’s programs.
Following the virtual ceremony, WCC held an in-person celebration at its Healing Quarters. Despite the soggy weather brought in by Tropical Storm Ophelia, more than 300 Veteran Service Dog Teams, Puppy Parents, namesakes, volunteers and supporters of WCC turned out to celebrate together. A great time was had by all.
Did you miss the ceremony or want the watch the 2023 WCC Graduation video again? You can check it out here.
Join us in congratulating WCC’s Class of 2023 — may your journeys together be filled with countless adventures and endless belly rubs!