On Saturday, January 26, 2019, six GOFI service dogs and their handlers traveled from Norwood to South Station on the MBTA Commuter Rail. The group connected to the Silver Line to experience a connected multimodal journey. Photo: Keolis

On Saturday, January 26, 2019, six GOFI service dogs and their handlers traveled from Norwood to South Station on the MBTA Commuter Rail. The group connected to the Silver Line to experience a connected multimodal journey. Photo: Keolis

Keolis Commuter Services and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority teamed up with Golden Opportunities for Independence (GOFI) to provide training for service dogs that will support people living with disabilities.

Exposing these service animals to a commuter rail journey helps to make the train more familiar as a convenient mode of transit for people living with disabilities and provides access to more than 500 weekday trains that reach 130 stations across the greater Boston region and Rhode Island.

GOFI used the commuter rail to help socialize their service dogs by exposing them to various sights, sounds and smells that they need to ignore as they maintain focus on their human partners. Rail travel, other passengers and even the tactile surfaces they walk on are all important for the dogs’ socialization and environmental understanding.

GOFI trainers used the MBTA commuter rail service to help socialize their service dogs by exposing them to various sights, sounds and smells that they need to ignore as they maintain focus on their human partners. Photo: Keolis

GOFI trainers used the MBTA commuter rail service to help socialize their service dogs by exposing them to various sights, sounds and smells that they need to ignore as they maintain focus on their human partners. Photo: Keolis

“We are pleased to partner with Keolis and the commuter rail to provide this important training and socialization,” said Pauline Hoegler, Founder of GOFI. “These dogs will be matched with human partners that often rely on public transportation so we want to expose the dogs to various sights, sounds and smells on the trains, on the platforms and in the stations they will encounter on a daily basis. We appreciate the opportunity and generosity of Keolis to help these service dogs be all they can be for their partners."

GOFI’s mission is to empower people with disabilities to live a fulfilling life with the assistance of a dog and a mentor. The service dogs are trained to assist their human partners with common daily tasks such as picking up items, turning on lights or opening doors. The dogs are also trained for medical alerts such as diabetic shock or epileptic episodes. Keolis officials joined GOFI during this multi-modal trip and continuously work with a wide-range of accessibility groups throughout the greater Boston region to facilitate further enhancements.

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