NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The bond between human and canine is a powerful one, and that bond was highlighted Friday at a graduation ceremony for canine companions.

Doreen Morano was fighting back tears of joy Friday as her 13-year-old daughter Melanie graduated with 12 others — not from high school, but from Canine Companions for Independence, CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported.

They waited a year and a half for this day and just finished a two-week training session.

“Watching her for two weeks, the confidence, the independence — it was incredible to see it,” Morano said.

Melanie and her dog Matisse officially became companions at the ceremony. In a grand gesture, those who helped Matisse become the well-trained dog he is, handed Melanie the leash. The joy she felt was evident in her smile.

Melanie has cerebral palsy, so Matisse will help her handle everyday tasks, but Morano said this canine offers her daughter and their family so much more.

“She’s alone a lot. Now, she has a buddy. And I know she’ll never be alone when I go to do things. He’ll be right by her side,” she said.

Gayle Webster is a puppy raiser who cared for Matisse from the time he was just a pup.

“We brought him up 6 months ago for training and that’s when we really cried,” she said.

But on Friday, he went home with Melanie and for Webster, seeing the pair together makes her tears worthwhile.

“He’s going home with Melanie and that makes us really happy,” she said.

The true meaning of the phrase “it’s not giving back, it’s giving too,” realized. Giving Matisse to Melanie brings this teenager a greater sense of independence and obviously a whole lot of happiness.

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