Julia Munro and her service dog, Collins, just before Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD's) graduation ceremony on Wednesday, June 16.
Julia Munro and her service dog, Collins, just before Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD's) graduation ceremony on Wednesday, June 16.
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WINSTED — It was a night to celebrate accomplishments as the Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) held its graduation ceremony on Wednesday, June 16.
According to its website, ECAD was founded in 1995 as a 501(c)(3) by husband and wife Dale and Lu Picard to enable people with disabilities to gain independence and mobility through the use of specially educated dogs.
The ceremony was held at ECAD’s training facility at 149 Newfield Road and was the first one since 2019, with ceremonies halted during the Covid pandemic in 2020.
According to Dale Picard, it takes ECAD 18 months to two years to train each dog.
“Raising the puppies is a tough job,” ECAD manager Brandi Lebel said during the graduation ceremony. “Kids are puppies, but puppies may just be harder to raise.”
“The dogs are all born here on campus, trained, then placed with clients who have to come here for two weeks of training with their dog,” Picard said. “These graduation ceremonies have always been good days for us.”
The booklet for the ceremony lists that ECAD has more than 150 volunteers, who Dale Picard credits for keeping the organization going through the pandemic.
“I am very thankful for them because they have all been generous with their time and fostering our dogs,” Picard said. “It’s made things a lot less stressful and made us work a lot faster.”
A total of six service dogs and their new owners graduated at the ceremony, including four service dogs for individuals, and two service dogs for the organizations RVNAhealth in Ridgefield and Memorial Hospital West in South Florida.
At the ceremony, Kevin McGovern from Kittery, Maine, graduated with his service dog, Kincaid.
McGovern has Parkinson’s disease, and previously had brain surgery to offset the tremors associated with Parkinson’s.
However, the surgery left McGovern with rigid muscles and eyelids that droop, which caused McGovern to be fearful about going out into the world.
Now that he has Kincaid, McGovern is now not as fearful to go out.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have Kincaid,” McGovern said. “I am also grateful for ECAD.”
Also at the ceremony, South Boston resident Julia Munro graduated with her service dog Collins.
Munro said that Collins helps her get around.
“I am thrilled and amazed beyond belief,” Munro said. “I was hopeful that he would do everything that he has done for me. He has exceeded all of my hopes. ECAD is wonderful and they have helped me so much.”
A few weeks ago, the town’s Planning and Zoning Department approved a special permit application that will allow ECAD to construct a new building that will be used as a kennel and an office space.
At the graduation ceremony, Dale Picard said that it would cost $1.5 million to construct the building.
He also announced that both he and his wife Lu would be donating $50,000 to ECAD to construct the building.
For more information about ECAD go to ecad1.org.

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