Blue Ridge Assistance Dogs (BRAD) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing specially selected and professionally trained service dogs and animal assisted therapy dogs to individuals with physical disabilities -- especially those with mobility problems.
BRAD was founded in 1994 by Lydia Wade. After receiving her Bachelors from Virginia Tech and her certification in Assistance Dog Training from Bergin University of Canine Studies, Lydia started the program with her first dog, a chocolate Labrador named Boz, and BRAD was born.
Serious training for Boz began in the summer of 1995. In 1996, Lydia was contacted by an individual with multiple physical disabilities in need of an assistance dog. Boz needed to be taught many high level commands to assist his human partner, but ultimately the dog-human team graduated from training in May 1997. It was a wonderful success story. Boz and his human partner worked together until 2005 when Boz retired and Yukon succeeded him.
BRAD continues to focus on the successful matches that change lives by pairing helpful dogs with people in need. To date, the organization has successfully placed 24 working teams and maintains a very high success rate for placement. We have expanded our programs to work with a variety of individuals including children and veterans. The organization has dozens of dedicated volunteers have enabled BRAD to grow and thrive. We are supported by donations from the community, foundations, and individuals – all helping us meet our mission and change lives.