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Hamilton goes home to new family

Donning a cap and gown, Hamilton took a break from his service dog duties to say thanks to the high school students that helped him serve a family in need.

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Hamilton dons a cap and gown after graduating from service dog training. Hamilton is helping Doug, left, and Shea Williams, right, with Doug’s daily activities.

The golden retriever, a service dog whose training was paid for by the fundraising efforts of Hamilton County Schools, was an honorary graduate during a special ceremony last week as he was presented to Doug and Shea Williams, who is herself a teacher at Thrasher Elementary.

Hamilton’s new Signal Mountain family as well as members of the school system and Goodwill Industries of Chattanooga board members were on hand to give praise to the juniors and seniors of Ooltewah High School, who raised the most toward Hamilton’s education.

Two years ago the schools were tasked with raising the funds to train Hamilton as part of the Goodwill Assistance Dog Academy.

Of the $25,000 needed to fund Hamilton’s education, Ooltewah High raised $1,150.

Hamilton was given to Doug Williams, who has multiple sclerosis and has used a wheelchair since 2004.

“He is a gorgeous dog, and more than that, he is remarkable and intelligent,” he said. “He has the ability to anticipate my needs and do it before I’m asking.”

Hamilton has been a part of the Williams family for a month now and still surprises his adoptive parents every day.

“When it’s time for bed he’ll go and turn the bed down ... and then he tries to cover you up,” Doug Williams said. “We really have a special relationship.”

To read the full story, visit www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/feb/08/lessons-in-caring.

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