With barks and slobbery licks from their new canine companions, UNC students Elizabeth Nicholls and Kayley Thorpe celebrated their service dogs' graduations Saturday at the Carrboro Century Center.
The service dog graduation is the culmination of a community-wide process that ends their training together and begins a long-term companionship as their dogs help them lead healthier, more manageable lives.
Nicholls and Thorpe were paired with their dogs through Eyes Ears Nose and Paws, a Carrboro nonprofit that partners assistance dogs with individuals with disabilities.
Nicholls has Type 1 diabetes. Her dog, Rufus, will alert her if her blood sugar is outside of a healthy range. She said having Rufus has been life changing.
“It’s the difference between a life of guilt and dread, defined by a disease I was resigned to, and a future in which I can and will be healthy, happy and thriving,” she said.