It was all cuddles and smiles with some furry friends at the National Service Dogs' open house in Cambridge today, to celebrate the 18th anniversary of breeding and training their working canines.

The organization is also celebrating the official return of one of their dogs who has been the centre of a two year legal battle, after a volunteer puppy raiser didn't want to return the dog to the NSD.

Tammy Hall of Waterloo volunteered to raise the dog until she was ready to begin training with the NSD, but Hall didn't want to give the puppy back. She offered to buy her instead, saying the dog named Gabby required special care.

The judge sided with the charity.

“Within our industry this is the first time this has gone to that extent to get a dog back. If they don't follow through and return the dogs and allow us to fulfill our mission, then we can't help people,” said National Service Dogs’ Executive Director Danielle Forbes.

That includes people like five-year-old Lincoln who has autism.

“Now that we've had Juno and they've been together since October last year it's been great. I notice with her he loses a lot of anxiety while being out in public,” said father Justin Patenaude.

For war vet James McLean, it's his service dog Elvis that keeps him positive

“I couldn't hang around a lot of people. I couldn't go to shopping malls without having an anxiety attack, so now wherever we go, Elvis is with me and I don't get those attacks anymore,” said McLean.

NSDrelies on sponsors, donations and over 400 volunteers who support through puppy-raising, programs and administrative work.

“The dogs' are taught to respond to situations of the person. So if it's an autistic child, the dog learns how to anchor themselves,” said trainer Gary Stevephenson.

The canines are provided to clients at no charge, but the cost to the charity is about $30,000 per dog.

If you would like to donate to NSD you can do so directly on their website.