ORLANDO, Fla. – Floranne, a Lab-golden mix News 6 producer Haley Coomes-Martin and her husband Jamie helped raise and train for 14 months, entered full-time service dog training in August.
Since then, we’ve been following Flo’s journey to becoming a service dog.
[TRENDING: 17-year-old found shot to death in Orange County | Palm Bay councilman Pete Filiberto accused of DUI, carrying cocaine in shoe | Brevard community rallies behind family whose son played in Super Bowl | Become a News 6 Insider]
It started with Haley and Jamie raising Flo as a puppy, taking her to training sessions and exploring Central Florida’s many attractions, like Disney, to get her acclimated with different environments.
Last we heard, Flo’s professional training was going well. But now we know, Flo has graduated her Canine Companions service dog training program and matched with a family in need of a service dog.
During a special ceremony in February, Haley and Jamie presented Flo’s leash to Andy Winters and his mom, Margy.
“I felt overjoyed. Leading up to that moment, it was a feeling of excitement. There were no nerves in handing that leash over was effortless because I know Flo will lead Andy with independence,” Haley said.
“It’s emotional. I feel happy and ready to start her new life,” Margy said. “This is our third service dog and the puppy raisers like Haley and Jamie are the backbone of Canine Companions. I am so appreciative of what they’ve done. Being able to raise the puppies and give it love and be willing to give it back to Canine Companions hoping they’ll be placed with a family, it’s fantastic.”
Before being matched, Flo and the Winters family underwent a two-week team training program.
“She immediately was drawn to him. She will help when we’re doing academics. She will help motivate him with his physical therapies. She’ll help him get outside more because he’ll have to take her own walks. She’s just going to be a really big help,” Margy said.
It was an emotional day for Haley and Jamie and many tears were shed, they say they are just glad they made a difference in someone’s life through raising Flo.
“I’m glad she’s able to use her gift,” Haley said.
What makes this match even more special, Haley and Jamie also found out that Margy’s birthday is Feb. 29, the same day as their wedding anniversary.
You can listen to every episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate in the media player below: