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Four-legged companion recognized for outstanding service

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BATON ROUGE- The Governor's Office of Disability Affairs selected Pace, a 3-year-old yellow lab, for the Service Dog of the Year award.

Pace is a guide dog for Father Pat Mascarella, a retired Catholic priest. Father Pat suffered from late-onset blindness and was paired with Pace about a year ago.

"Father Pat is an extraordinary person by himself, but with Pace attached to him they've been able to do some incredible things," Brandon Burris, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs, said. 

Pace helps Father Pat maintain his independence by guiding him around town and to church.

"Once we get used to a church, like at the Cathedral, we sit in a particular place and he knows where it is," Father Pat said. "Once he gets used to it he will lead me down the aisle, he'll lead me to the row and get me into the pew."

In addition to attending Mass, Pace goes with Father Pat to visit students at the Louisiana School for the Blind and residents at retirement homes.

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