Parkland Family Trains Puppy for Service Dog Program 1
Jeff and Joanna Goriss with their children, Landry and London and dog, Noki {photo by Paulina Splechta}

By: Jen Russon

A family of four in the Parkland Isles community has had a hand in teaching a new dog new tricks. 

Joanna and Jeff Goriss, along with their children, Landry and London, acquired a Lab and Golden Retriever mix last spring and are getting ready to take him to a service dog training facility in Orlando by November.

Named “Noki,” their puppy was flown in from the California-based company, Canine Companions.

Before Noki can be officially trained and assigned to a person in need, he needed a foster family to thrive. That foster family was the Gorisses.

“For almost 20 months, we’ve trained our future service puppy and will soon drop him off at college in Orlando. When Noki graduates, he’ll be matched with a disabled person free of charge,” said Joanna.

She added 30 percent of potential service dogs don’t graduate from the six-month program, where dogs are trained in everything from switching on and off lights to putting on an owner’s socks.

If Noki is released, the Gorisses might be able to adopt him permanently, but Joanna says they are hoping he graduates magna cum laude. 

“It’s bittersweet to have to say goodbye. We’ll miss him terribly. But as my son, Landry said, Noki will be a huge help to someone who is disabled,” she said, adding her son is friends with a boy who uses a wheelchair, and, playing with Noki one day, illustrated just how much a service dog comforts and helps.

The Gorisses are now on a waiting list at Canine Companions and should receive word soon if they get a new puppy to train.

“Our whole family embraced the idea of what it means to train a service dog, and we know all the good he can do in the future.” 

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