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JoAnna Lou
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Graduation Goes to the Dogs
19 pups become official bomb sniffers in New York City.

Service dogs have recently been honored in high school graduations and yearbooks, but last week a group of pups had their own graduation ceremony in New York City's Grand Central Terminal. The 19 bomb-sniffing German Shepherds went through an intense 12-week training program, making up the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's largest class to date.

Instead of a diploma, the each dog received an official badge with a collar and full color guard honors. Following graduation, the pups will patrol trains and station platforms by day and will live with their MTA and NYPD handlers at night.

Adding to the inspiring event, each of the dogs were named after New York fallen heroes whose families were in attendance. Their names are Augie, Chief, Daehan, Foxy, Geo, Holland, Joey, Mac, Patriot, Sentry, T.J., Vinny, Blue, Boomer, Dante, Falco, Nox, Sentinel and Tank.

Michael Stack said knowing that Chief, his dad's namesake, will be patrolling subways and fighting terrorism means a lot to his family. His father, FDNY Safety Battalion Chief Lawrence T. Stack, died while rescuing a man in the North Tower on September 11th.

The MTA's canine unit is one of the largest in the country and consists of 50 dogs that are trained to track the origin of thousands of unattended packages each year.

MTA Chief Michael Coan says the canine team is invaluable and also credits their success to the support of the handlers' families who take care of the pups when they're not on the job.

Having an official graduation ceremony is a great way to honor fallen heroes and the group of dogs waiting to carry on their legacy.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by Jeremy Bales.

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