Kari & Matcha

Veteran with PTS finds freedom with service dog 

Before service dog Matcha came into her life, U.S. Army veteran Kari—who served three years in the military, including one tour in Afghanistan—couldn’t go places on her own due to hypervigilance and extreme anxiety in public caused by post-traumatic stress (PTS). She relied on her two children to accompany her or do errands for her, but once they were grown and had lives of their own, Kari realized she needed a new companion. After applying for a service dog with FSD, Kari was paired in June 2018 with Matcha, a German shepherd mix who came to us from one of our shelter partners.

Matcha spent three months learning basic obedience and socialization in Colorado’s Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program before returning to FSD for three months of advanced training. Kari and Matcha then worked with their FSD trainer at our facility for two weeks on tasks specific to Kari’s needs, followed by one week of on-site training in Kari’s home and community in western Colorado. At their December 2018 graduation, Kari said, “When I finished class with Matcha, my heart was full of gratitude and support. It was the first time in a long time that I honestly felt that I was not on my own, that I had support and that others were willing to support us. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Today, Matcha checks out Kari’s house before she enters, turns on lights, and creates a buffer around Kari when they go out in public to reduce her anxiety in crowds. Matcha accompanies her to the grocery store, doctor’s office, park, restaurants, and the VA, among other places, increasing Kari’s independence and ability to enjoy everyday living.

Says Kari, “I don’t think this match could’ve been better. Matcha helps me get out and about. She is my battle buddy for going places and being there for me when I need her. Our bond will continue to grow, and we have made and will continue to make a huge impact on each other. I want to thank FSD for working with us and giving us both a new chance at life. I don’t know Matcha’s past and she doesn’t know mine, but we’ll be there for the future with each other.”

Contact Erin Conley at econley@freedomservicedogs.org for all media inquiries.