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Officials unveil stamps honoring service dogs

Service dogs and their companions were on hand at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown today for a ceremony marking the release of four new 65 cent stamps by the US Postal Sevice.

David L. Ryan/Globe staff

Service dogs and their companions were on hand at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown today for a ceremony marking the release of four new 65 cent stamps by the US Postal Sevice.

DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

Boston Postmaster James J. Holland displayed a picture of the seeing eye dog stamp. Others included in the series are the military dog, the therapy dog, and the search and rescue dog.

About 100 people and several dogs gathered at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown yesterday for a ceremony to introduce a recently released series of stamps honoring service dogs.

The 65-cent stamps were released Jan. 20 and feature four dogs - a guide dog assisting a blind owner, a military dog that does scouting and tracking, a therapy dog, and a search and rescue dog.

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“These are actual dogs in service, not just models,’’ Postal Service spokeswoman Maureen Marion said. “The search and rescue dog worked at ground zero and was recognized by New York State Police for its work looking for an endangered child in New York. There are a lot of stories behind all of these animals.’’

The postal service printed 80 million sheets of the “Dogs at Work’’ series of stamps, each sheet featuring the four designs. Marion said the stamps are available now at post offices nationwide.

At the ceremony, the school also recognized members of the US Postal Service.

The school presented Boston Postmaster James J. Holland with a plaque to recognize the postal service and local letter carriers for their role in the distribution of Braille books, audio books, and large print books through the Free Matter for the Blind initiative, which provides free postage for materials mailed by or for those who are blind or disabled.

“The program makes it possible for everyone to have access to the reading materials they need to stay active, engaged, and informed members of society,’’ school spokeswoman Marilyn Rae Beyer said.

Beyer said the event was scheduled for Valentine’s Day as a way to honor the dogs and the letter carriers.

“Every member of the postal service who processes and delivers these services is held close to the hearts of those who use them,’’ she said. “The very close partnership between the human who uses the service dog and their canine companions is as close as any relationship anyone has with another person because they are intimately involved in making it possible for that person to function independently.’’

The four-legged audience members did not leave with empty paws.

“Our vocational class called canine catering . . . made special gifts of dog biscuits as valentines,’’ Beyer said. “Our students were able to give something back to the service dogs today, very literally, in the form of homemade, all-organic dog treats.’’

Colin A. Young can be reached at colin.young@globe.com.
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