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Connecticut News


Eversource employee helps train dogs for disabled veterans and first responders

Jan 24, 2022

volunteerism employee

A weekend puppy raiser. That’s a title Bob Root holds when he’s not working as a gas service meter mechanic here at Eversource. So, what’s that mean? For nearly eight years, Bob and his family have been taking in dogs and helping train them to become service animals for disabled veterans and first responders—all part of the American VetDogs (AVD) program.

Bob Root“That’s what keeps us going every year is knowing that these dogs are going to serve a better purpose to someone who needs them,” he said. “I also have a lot of family in the military, so it means even more to me.”

Bob works with AVD’s Prison Puppy Program, where these future service dogs are raised and trained by inmates during the week. He’s one of many people on standby to take a dog when other families can’t. As a weekend dog raiser, Bob continues training them to learn important tasks like pushing open doors and retrieving objects.

“It’s not possible to raise service dog in the prison setting alone,” said Mark Tyler, a prison advisor with AVD. “They need to be exposed to all sorts of outside elements like kids in strollers or headlights on cars. That’s where people like Bob come in.”

Through the years, Bob has trained 20 different dogs. Right now, he’s busy with a female black lab puppy named Francis, who he’s had for the past month.

“It’s fun having these dogs,” Bob said. “It’s like having a weekend house guest.”

At the end of the dog’s training, families have the opportunity to watch them graduate and to meet the veteran they’ve been partnered with.

“These families play a huge role for us making dogs successful for disabled people, so being able to see the end result really comes full circle and they can see all their hard work pay off,” Mark said. 

It costs more than $50,000 to raise, train and match a service dog with a veteran with disabilities. However, all of VetDogs’ services are provided at no cost to the veteran; funding comes primarily from the generous contributions of individuals, corporations, foundations, businesses, and service clubs. To learn more about the organization and how you can get involved, visit