New teams honored at virtual ceremony
On Jan. 14, FSD supporters throughout the country joined us for Winter Virtual Graduation to honor the hard work and accomplishments of our newest client-dog teams. In a heartwarming video, our grads shared stories of their journeys toward greater independence, happiness, and hope. Special thanks to presenting sponsor CSU Global.
Alex & Dakota
Alex, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served over seven years on active duty, was matched with Dakota, who helps alleviate the symptoms of PTSD by creating space for Alex in crowded places and waking him up from nightmares. This team is sponsored by AnnieMac Home Mortgage.
Emily & Star
Emily is a young woman on the autism spectrum who works at a doggie daycare. Emily and her kitten, Cricket, are excited to welcome Star into their home. Star will be assisting Emily by providing deep-pressure snuggles, interrupting downturns in her mood, creating space in crowds, and helping her meet new people.
Eric & Goose
A six-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a KC-135 crew chief, Eric returned home with traumatic brain injury and upper-body paralysis. He is graduating with Goose, who helps Eric by retrieving dropped items and providing a stable companion for Eric to brace against. This team is sponsored by Dr. Marty Pets.
Ethan & Pika
Ethan is a lively 9-year-old boy who was matched with his new little buddy, Pika, through FSD’s Disco’s Dogs program, which serves children and teens with autism and other neurocognitive disabilities. Pika will help calm and soothe Ethan and redirect him as they both explore a shared love of pigeons. This team is sponsored by Dr. Marty Pets.
Jonathan & Peloton
Jonathan is living with a C-5 incomplete spinal cord injury while taking classes in construction management. Peloton helps Jonathan by picking up dropped items, retrieving his water bottle, keys, and phone, and opening doors. This team is sponsored by Dr. Marty Pets.
K & Patriot
K enjoys an active lifestyle despite the challenges of multiple sclerosis. Service dog Patriot will help increase her confidence and independence as he retrieves forearm crutches, pushes handicap buttons. and nuzzles K’s face when she needs help getting through anxious moments.
LeeAnn & Chili
LeeAnn is an FSD successor client who is providing a well-earned retirement to her first service dog, Hilo. Chili is ready to provide balance support while anchoring LeeAnn as she returns to her job at the community rec center pool and manages the exhaustion of chemo recovery days. This team is sponsored by an anonymous donor.
Nathan & Griz
Nate is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served in Afghanistan as a Ranger in the Special Operations Forces. Griz will help alleviate Nate’s disabilities and increase his capacity to function as a father to 1-year-old twin daughters, a husband, and a leader to his brothers who served.
Nina & Fuego
Nina, a social worker at a charter middle school, will be working alongside professional therapy dog Fuego to advance animal-assisted learning with students who need extra support. This team is sponsored by The Kaplan Family Daughters.
Patrick & Midge
Patrick is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a security specialist. His new service dog, Midge, assists Patrick by retrieving dropped items and helping him navigate crowded spaces, among other tasks.
Sarah & Pasta
Sarah is a licensed therapist with a private practice specializing in women’s pregnancy issues, including newborn loss. As her professional therapy dog, Pasta will be Sarah’s furry co-therapist, providing comfort to grieving clients and snuggles to little humans.
Stephen & Braxton
In 2015, Stephen sustained lower-limb paralysis after undergoing minor back surgery. Today, he continues a slow, steady road to recovery, and with service dog Braxton at his side, Stephen hopes to take his computer-programming study sessions to coffee shops, return to the rec center pool, and eventually get out into the woods for some camping.
Therese & Bowlen
Therese is a psychologist working with middle school and high school students who have experienced trauma and benefit from social, emotional, and behavioral support in the classroom. Professional therapy dog Bowlen will be supporting Therese’s students in the classroom and participating in therapeutic dog yoga.
Tyson & Fergus
Tyson is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army who returned home with PTSD after serving over 15 years, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is an FSD successor client whose first service dog, Argon, is retiring. New battle buddy Fergus will help support Tyson in crowded spaces and retrieve dropped items, among other tasks. This team is sponsored by The Harold Lee Charitable Foundation.
Congratulations to all these teams and to all the hearts and hands that have made these matches possible!