Service Dogs group honors Petersham resident

  • Petersham resident Cynthia Crosson (center), Kathy Foreman, NEADS Director of Training (far right), and a recent class of graduating Service Dogs for Veterans. Contributed photo

Staff Report
Published: 11/15/2020 2:49:21 PM
Modified: 11/15/2020 2:49:19 PM

PRINCETON — NEADS World Class Service Dogs held a virtual graduation ceremony on Nov. 1. In addition to recognizing its newest Service Dog teams, NEADS presented its 2020 Spirit Award to Dr. Cynthia Crosson, who has contributed to and supported many areas of the organization, including the NEADS Service Dogs for Veterans program. Through this program, NEADS offers fully trained Service Dogs for United States veterans across the country who have a permanent physical disability or hearing loss. Its Trauma Assistance Dog (TAD) program places Service Dogs with veterans living in New England with diagnosed service-related post-traumatic stress.

Dr. Crosson’s involvement with NEADS began in 2005, when she received Dandi, an Assistance Dog for the Ministry. Dr. Crosson brought the comforting canine presence and the skill and training of a NEADS Assistance Dog to her work for 15 years. Dandi passed away in September.

From 2006 to 2015, Dr. Crosson served as a member of the NEADS Board of Directors.

In her role as psychiatric consultant, Dr. Crosson designed and helped to implement the TAD Program, which graduated its first Service Dog/Veteran teams in 2009 as part of a pilot program. She continues in this role today with the established TAD program.

Says Kathy Foreman, NEADS Director of Training, “Each year, NEADS presents its Spirit Award to a volunteer or group of volunteers who passionately exudes the energy, values, and commitment to our mission over an extended period of time. Dr. Crosson truly exemplifies these qualities.”

“Fifteen years ago, I walked into NEADS and it changed my entire life,” says Dr. Crosson. “I was here to partner with Dandi, my Assistance Dog for the Ministry. It was a wonderful experience to be partnered with that bundle of fur, enthusiasm and devotion.”

Adds Crosson, “I am so honored to be able to contribute to NEADS in various ways, particularly working with the veteran clients. Because I had worked with post-traumatic stress disorder as a therapist and as a researcher, I was able to draw on this experience to help develop the TAD program that we now have today.”

Dr. Crosson has written several books based on her work with NEADS, including the children’s books “Only Daddy’s Dog” and “Sunny and Malcolm.” Her book, “You Cannot Cage the Wolf,” details her involvement in developing the TAD program. These books are published by Haley’s Publishing of Athol and are available for purchase at

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