WINSTED – Jake Louzarn, 20, did his own fundraising to earn the money to purchase a dog that would help him with his cerebral palsy by retrieving dropped items and opening doors, among other tasks.

“The experience of raising my own money to pay for my dog, then spending several weeks training with my dog Cosmos – I owe that wonderful experience to ECAD and it made me feel good about myself,” said Louzarn, of Quincy, Mass., as an Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities graduation took place.

At the recent graduation ceremony at ECAD in Winsted, five clients — from age 8 to 74 — sat at the head of the room with their service animal at their feet, with 20 relatives and two trainers in the audience.

“This class wanted to be together and work together, and the dogs had a good time. A service dog doesn’t just come with soulful brown eyes; they are your new best friend. If you need help waking up, you now have a new alarm clock,” said ECAD co-founder Dale Picard, who owns the business at 149 Newfield Road with his wife, Lu Picard.

Edna Bronzino, 74, of Hawaii, said her service dog Vega came into her life just in time. “I used to live in New York half the year and Hawaii the other half, but then my MS (multiple sclerosis) grew worse. I began falling and had several concussions. I signed up with ECAD and waited to get my perfect dog. I am now taking Vega back with me to Hawaii.”

Carly Lloyd, 22, from Washington, D.C., said her service dog Sarge will be helping her with stability and alert her to on-coming fainting spells due to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and Ehlers Danos.

Quinn Doty, 8, from New Hartford, is non-verbal so her mother, Allison Doty, shared, “Quinn has an ultra-rare condition called Pitt Hopkins Syndrome.

Quinn suffers from severe GI and breathing abnormalities, her mother said.

“When we originally applied for Sugar a few years ago, our intention was just for Sugar to be a companion dog, to distract Quinn, play fetch, and try to keep her mind off the discomfort she so often feels,” Doty said. “Within the last year, Quinn’s walking has greatly improved so Sugar is fitted with a harness that Quinn is able to hold onto and walk with.

Doty said. “I have never seen Quinn feel so proud of herself as she is when she walks with Sugar by her side. He has given her a confidence that she has never been able to feel before when walking into a room or through a public area.

“I am just overwhelmed with joy for her and so proud of her that she’s gotten to this point where Sugar can help her feel some independence. The training at ECAD was such a great, positive experience and I learned so much, not just about Sugar, but also about myself and Quinn,” doty said. “We are all capable of more than I had ever imagined.”

ECAD has been training and placing the service dogs for adults, children and veterans for 25 years. Its mission is to enable people with disabilities to gain greater independence and mobility through the use of specially educated dogs, according to ECAD.

In February, ECAD was denied a text amendment to the town’s zoning regulations to allow a larger driveway and more paved surfaces, and a special permit to build a 7,100-square-foot building. A special permit public hearing will be held at a date not yet announced.

ECAD’s neighbors have complained to the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission on several occasions, regarding stormwater runoff from the site, dust, noise, traffic and lowering of property values.

Connecticut Media Group