Congratulations, grads!

New teams honored in December

It was a night of cheers, tears, and tales of conquering fears as our newest client-dog teams graduated from Freedom Service Dogs on Dec. 15. Our 12 inspirational grads made us so proud as they spoke from the heart of their challenges, accomplishments, and hopes for the future with their Freedom Service Dogs by their side. The honorees included five veterans, three young people with special needs, three clients with mobility challenges, and a therapist who graduated with an FSD-trained professional therapy dog.

We hope you’ll enjoy reading about all of our remarkable graduates, and be sure to watch for details on our next graduation in June 2020.

Winter 2019 Graduating Teams

Lori & London

Lori is a four-time stroke survivor and a four-time recipient of an FSD service dog through our lifetime support program. Successor dog London is a Labradoodle who enhances Lori’s independence and quality of life by performing tasks in the home and community. This team is sponsored by Halliburton.

Missy & Glacier

Missy is a U.S. Army National Guard veteran who assisted with rescue and relief efforts at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. Glacier, a Labrador retriever, has been trained to help alleviate symptoms of Missy’s post-traumatic stress by creating space around her in public, interrupting nightmares, and providing weighted pressure to calm Missy when needed. This team is sponsored by Deckers Dogs.

Lukas & Brizzo

Lukas is an active and creative 16-year-old who sometimes finds that interactions with others can be challenging and anxiety provoking. Brizzo, a Labrador retriever, is Lukas’ pride and joy, as well as his constant companion, helping this young man feel more confident on trips to the library, pet store, and on walks in the woods and around town.

Adam & Miso

Adam lives with the effects of a serious spinal cord injury he sustained during a mountain bike training run. Labrador retriever Miso is always ready to pick up dropped items, retrieve a water bottle from a backpack, or tug off a jacket to assist Adam in his commitment to regaining full access to the active outdoor lifestyle he loves. This team is sponsored by Halliburton.

Sunny & Queen

Due to a spinal condition and multiple corrective back surgeries, Sunny has significant mobility impairment and limited strength and stamina. Queen, a golden retriever, is Sunny’s second Freedom Service Dog. Queen is trained to retrieve dropped items, provide space in crowded lines, and serve as a grounding influence when the team is faced with challenges. This team is sponsored by Dr. Marty Pets.

Wyatt & Aussie

Wyatt is a 9-year-old boy who loves to learn things and master new skills, but he has often felt anxious in crowded and unfamiliar places. Through FSD’s Disco’s Dogs program, Wyatt was matched with a Labrador retriever named Aussie who helps him feel more comfortable in social situations and is expanding Wyatt’s self-confidence and horizons. This team is sponsored by Joan Ouderkirk and Maddie Ng.

Katrina & Sinatra

Katrina is a bright and kind 20-year-old who received her first FSD service dog, Dudley, in 2008. After 11 years of loyal service, Dudley will be retiring, and Katrina is graduating with successor dog Sinatra. This standard poodle will continue Dudley’s legacy by providing Katrina with neurological regulation, weighted pressure, and constant companionship in her busy life. This team is sponsored by Gilda Kaplan.

Sam & Newton

Sam is a child and family therapist who practices in Aurora, Colorado and graduated with Newton, a shar-pei mix. Newt, as he is fondly known, will work alongside Sam in providing mental health counseling to clients from various backgrounds in both a school setting and in private practice.

Edgar & Alfredo

Edgar recently retired from a long career in the U.S. Army. He served four tours in Afghanistan and returned home with post-traumatic stress that causes nightmares and anxiety in crowds. Alfredo is a Labrador retriever who has been trained to nudge Edgar awake from nightmares and create a safe zone for his veteran in crowded places so that Edgar can attend his son’s sporting events and other activities. This team is sponsored by AnnieMac Home Mortgage.

Robert & Sookie

Robert is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran with post-traumatic stress triggered by large crowds and loud noises. Sookie, a Labrador retriever, has been trained to awaken Robert from nightmares and create a buffer zone around him in public places so he can enjoy spending time in the great outdoors and traveling with his wife. This team is sponsored by Vets Helping Heroes.

Gary & Bjorn

Gary is a U.S. Navy veteran who has post-traumatic stress, as well as difficulties with mobility and balance caused by the prosthetic leg he received after his leg was amputated. Labrador retriever Bjorn provides stability to Gary on their daily walks, and he also has been trained to awaken Gary from nightmares and create space around him in public. This team is sponsored by the Gary & Leslie Howard Family Foundation.

Daniel & Tater

U.S. Army veteran Daniel has post-traumatic stress and uses a prosthetic due to the loss of his lower leg. Tater, a Labrador retriever, provides stability when Daniel walks and helps him feel more comfortable in public so that Daniel can do more with his wife and children. This team is sponsored by The Dixie Foundation.

Special thanks to Amanda Engel Photography.

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