Jupiter High School’s furry friend 

Sophomore+Colby+Nadeau+with+his+service+dog%2C+Waffle.

Gianna Grieco

Sophomore Colby Nadeau with his service dog, Waffle.

Colby Nadeau, sophomore at Jupiter High, is prone to seizure activity. To help keep him safe Nadeau and his family went through an extensive process training a service dog to adopt, which he named Waffle.

Waffle, the four-year-old golden retriever black lab mix, attends school with Nadeau every day and goes home with him after. Waffle helps notify Colby, his family, friends, and teachers of seizures.

“If he starts to detect a seizure he will lick Colby,” Gwynne Collins, Waffle’s school handler said. 

If Waffle starts licking Nadeau or barking, that must be taken seriously as a sign of a possible seizure.

The process of obtaining a trained service dog is a long tedious process, filled with lots of training. The benefits of service dogs are endless, basic tasks becoming easier, and increased independence, and providing comfort. Making the long wait worth it.

“It’s the security of knowing Colby is safe at night, Waffle sleeps with him so he will alert any seizures which occur at night. My husband and I are definitely able to sleep more,” Amy Nadeau, Colby’s mom, said.

The waitlist to adopt a service dog can be up to three years or more. To even be placed on the waitlist, you must put down a $17,000 deposit. The training for these dogs is intense, around the age of six weeks the canines are being put to work every day. 

“The puppies are wearing vests at six weeks old and being exposed to noises,” Amy Nadeau said.

Although the wait can be long, the dogs are trained to save lives as well as support their owner. 

The moment we got him it was so worth it. I would wait three years again.

— Amy Nadeau

Unfortunately, oftentimes owners will purchase vests despite their dog not being certified. All service dogs wear special vests to show they are working and need to be with the handler at all times. This is very frustrating when owners buy a vest without the proper certification.

“My number one thing is education. I mean there is nothing you can do to stop it. People want to take their dogs everywhere,” Amy Nadeau said.

Waffles is a hard-working companion, but like all dogs, he loves to play catch and cuddle with Nadeau and his family.  

“Sometimes I throw a ball outside then he goes and gets it. Sometimes he runs around out back or out front to get zoomies out,” Nadeau said. 

Waffles, like many trained service dogs, respond to not only verbal commands but also physical commands. Swift hand motions can tell him to sit, lie down, stand up and walk.

“If you’re somewhere where you have to give a command that could bother someone’s experience like if you were in a theater, he will respond to the signal,” Collins said.

The social aspect of having Waffle is another benefit. When Colby walks around with Waffle, people will come up and say hi which gives him a good conversation starter when meeting new people. 

“He is trained for both dissecting seizures and he is also for socialization,” Collins said. 

If you are interested in helping make the service dog process easier, click on the links below.

https://canine.org/

https://www.pawswithacause.org/

https://www.4pawsforability.org/