Like people, animals never forget their favorite teacher. Elijah was only an 8-week old puppy when he was taken to Colorado to live with Ashely Wilt, a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), an organization that helps train service dogs. For almost two years Elijah would follow Wilt everywhere while learning how to be confident and calm no matter what the situations.3
“I train over 30 commands and socialize the puppy in all situations, such as in malls, restaurants, movie theaters and even in airplanes,” Wilt told The Dodo. “Elijah went on over 25 flights with me.”
And like any good teacher, Wilt helped guide the tiny pup into adulthood with love, patience, compassion. Then in February, Elijah was almost ready to carry out his duties as a service dog. And after all the time they spent together, saying goodbye turned out to be heartbreaking for both teacher and student.
Soon after graduation, Elijah traveled to California to finish up his training, and six months later, he was finally ready to graduate. Wilt could not have been more proud of the pup she helped raise, but she knew she just had to see him again. So she booked a plane ticket.
And as soon as Wilt walked into Elijah’s graduation ceremony, it was clear that Elijah never forgot her.
“Elijah is usually a super calm dog, so seeing him lose his mind when he saw me made me cry,” Wilt said. “It was six months worth of built-up emotions that all just came out, for both of us.”
“I was just so happy to hold him again and tell him how unbelievably proud I am of him,” Wilt added. “Seeing how he is changing lives makes all of the heartbreak worth it.”
Elijah has since come to find his forever home with Lance Weir, a Marine Corps veteran. While he will always have a special place in his teacher’s heart, she’s so happy to see the pup she raised making a such a positive difference for in his new dad’s life.
“[Weir] has already fallen in love with Elijah and they go on adventures together all the time,” Wilt said. “They truly are a perfect fit for each other and it has been a dream come true as Elijah’s puppy raiser to see him fulfill his purpose in life.”
You can see their touching reunion here. And please be sure to share this warm tale with your friends and family.