Meet our 2023 graduates

Join us in welcoming the newest graduating teams to our Freedom Service Dogs family! These hardworking, enthusiastic clients bonded with their service dogs as they learned dog-handling and training skills, as well as custom cues to meet their unique needs. Read on to meet the teams!

Atarah & Muenster

Atarah is a married mother of six (two children, four dogs) who lives with multiple sclerosis and enjoys volunteering at her son’s school and making arts and crafts. Successor service dog Muenster is part of a pack that includes retired FSD service dog Oak, Duke the Great Dane, and 15-year-old Sheba. Muenster is picking up where Oak left off by retrieving dropped items, opening doors, and accompanying Atarah on trips to the local pool and family vacations.

Charles & Gobi

Charles is a husband, father of two children, and U.S. Army veteran who served as a signal support systems specialist from 1993 to 2000. He graduated with successor dog Gobi (aka Gobi-Wan Kenobi). Standard poodle Gobi has been trained to interrupt PTSD symptoms, awaken Charles from nightmares, and create space around his veteran to help relieve anxiety, enabling Charles to feel more comfortable in public places and especially at his children’s events.

John & Lasso

John is a husband and U.S. Army veteran who served from 1988 to 2008 and was deployed in Operation Desert Storm, the Kuwait Liberation, and the Global War on Terrorism campaigns as a crewmember on the Bradley Linebacker, a combat air-defense vehicle. Service dog Lasso interrupts John’s symptoms of PTSD with gentle kisses, awakens him from nightmares, and creates space around him in public, bringing John greater independence and comfort outside of his home.

Ashley & Revna

Ashley is a young woman living with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and putting her own signature style of infectious, bright energy into everything she does. Service dog Revna is a new beginning and first service dog for Ashley, who cannot wait for some of the doors she thought closed to open up for her again. In addition to the freedom and confidence she feels from having Revna by her side, Ashley looks forward to exploring New York City’s parks, thrift shops, and coffee houses together, and maybe even sharing her spoken word poetry at an open mic night.

Zach & Katana

Zach is a kind and active young adult who enjoys video games and the outdoors. Katana, a dainty and sweet golden retriever, will be helping Zach with handling stress in public, providing deep pressure therapy, and snuggling while he plays video games at home. Zach is looking forward to having Katana by his side during his daily activities, including volunteering.

Dianne & Rebel

Dianne, a dedicated school social worker, has found an exceptional partner in professional therapy dog Rebel. Through skills like resting, covering laps, nudging, and providing comforting leans, Rebel helps Dianne’s students process emotions, build confidence, and develop relationship skills. When off the clock, this dynamic duo finds joy in seaside living and boating adventures. Rebel’s role as the successor to Pirate, Dianne’s previous professional therapy dog from FSD, carries on a legacy of compassion and care, as Pirate enjoys a well-deserved retirement.

Amelia & Prima

Amelia is a bright, engaging, and motivated college student who was matched with Prima. As Amelia’s new best bud, Prima will be accompanying her to college classes and events, providing comforting and grounding tasks like “rest” and “nudge” in stressful times. Amelia and Prima are ready to take on the world together, including adventures to places like Disneyland!

Nick & Reed

Nick is a U.S. Army veteran whose military career spans over two decades, including tours in Iraq and Ukraine. Living with PTSD and back issues in his retirement, Nick finds increased comfort and independence with the help of his service dog, Reed. Reed assists Nick with retrieving dropped items and creating space around him in public areas.

Kristin & Boogie

After an accident left her with a traumatic brain injury, Kristin found a new level of independence upon being matched with her service dog Boogie. Boogie is trained to help Kristin with everyday tasks like opening doors, retrieving items, and walking. Kristin and her husband are also dedicated volunteer puppy raisers and have already raised two pups for FSD!

Lillian & Bey

Lilian is a high school student who finds strength and independence through their loyal service dog, Bey. They live with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and Bey has been custom-trained to assist them by retrieving essential items like their phone, medication, crutches, and wallet. Beyond academics, Lilian’s creative spirit shines as they spend many hours designing and sewing impressive costumes.

Leo & Sprout

U.S. Army veteran Leo served in the Criminal Investigation Division and provided security for Vice President Dick Cheney. His journey continues with the support of his second service dog, Sprout, who helps him navigate life with PTSD, knee, and shoulder challenges. Sprout has been trained to assist Leo by creating space in crowds, nudging him to bring him back into the present moment, and retrieving items, enabling him to lead a more independent life. After retiring from the military, Leo continues to serve others as part of a coalition to build homes for veterans and others experiencing homelessness.

Angela & Melody

Angela, who lives with mobility challenges due to a spinal cord injury, was partnered with her service dog Melody. Melody provides assistance with walking and standing up after falls, giving Angela more independence. Melody has also been trained to locate Angela’s husband within their home and retrieve dropped items like her cane, keys, phone, or wallet. She will greatly enhance Angela’s quality of life and allow her to participate in all the activities she loves on her rural farm, including caring for horses and goats!

Thomas & Valor

Thomas is a U.S. Navy veteran with a career spanning over two decades, including deployments to Iraq and the Global War on Terror. His faithful— and aptly named—service dog Valor is a constant source of support, aiding him with his PTSD, mobility issues, and hearing challenges. Valor is trained to retrieve items, create space in crowded environments, and nudge Thomas to bring him back to the present moment.

Tamra & Fern

Tamra was matched with her service dog Fern who helps her mitigate challenges she faces as a result of an autoimmune condition. Fern assists Tamra with tasks like retrieving dropped items, opening doors, and waking her from nightmares. Tamra finds joy in volunteering with seniors at her community center and is working toward her certification as an end-of-life doula.

Wolfy & Moss

Wolfy is a passionate, soft-spoken, and caring young adult who loves dogs, especially their new service dog partner Moss! Moss, a tall yellow Lab, will provide comfort and interruptions in the form of lap resting and gentle nudges when Wolfy is experiencing stress at school and in public. Wolfy is looking forward to Moss being their best bud, accompanying them on new adventures, and spending quality cuddle time at home. 

Adam & Tiki

Adam is a civil engineer and proud dog dad living with mobility challenges resulting from a hemipelvectomy amputation. Passionate about customizing vehicles, going to sporting events, and spending time at breweries, Adam traveled to FSD to meet his new best friend, Tiki. Tiki helps Adam by opening and closing doors, pressing automatic door buttons, carrying items, assisting him during grocery shopping, and retrieving his tools while he works in the garage. This team is sponsored by Dr. Marty Pets.

Kamden & Maui

Kamden is a bright and charismatic young man with autism who loves Spiderman. Maui, a gentle and affectionate golden and Labrador retriever mix, helps Kamden with handling stress in public, interrupting anxious behaviors, and providing deep pressure therapy when he needs extra support. Love at first sight, Kamden already shares an incredible bond with his best bud Maui. This team is sponsored by Dr. Marty Pets.

Wayne & Cha Cha

Wayne, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, lives with PTSD and service-related injuries. A family man, Wayne is excited to grow his family by four more paws with service dog Cha Cha. Cha Cha helps Wayne by retrieving items, creating space in public, opening doors, and providing love and support to help Wayne gain more independence. Not only does she perfectly match Wayne’s mellow personality and dedication to getting the job done right, Cha Cha also charms everyone with her sweet facial expressions. This team is sponsored by Dr. Marty Pets.

Celeste & Dunkin

A U.S. Air Force veteran living with PTSD, Celeste is an avid runner who enjoys the serenity of spending time on the beach. Dunkin, her dazzling and charming service dog, assists Celeste by creating space in crowds, providing comfort, and helping her feel more confident in public. With Dunkin by her side, Celeste is bound to enjoy more freedom and relaxing days on the beach. This team is sponsored by Joan Ouderkirk.

Mary Jane & Haka

Passionate about attending the symphony and engaging with her community, Mary Jane and service dog Haka are already well on their way to becoming the most popular residents in their retirement community. Haka helps Mary Jane navigate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease by picking up dropped items, opening doors, and helping Mary Jane pull her jackets off. Along with relishing in the company of resident therapy dog Peach, Mary Jane and Haka look forward to spending their days walking on the expansive grounds they live on and joining in activities with friends.

Kyle & Merengue

U.S. Army veteran Kyle is a loving father, husband, and dog dad who enjoys archery and spending time with his family. His sweet and devoted service dog, Merengue, helps Kyle with his symptoms of PTSD and TBI by creating space in public, retrieving items, and providing comfort in times of need. Kyle looks forward to having Merengue as part of his family and as his battle buddy by his side at his children’s events, family outings, and more. This team is sponsored by the Ken W. Davis Foundation.

Mason & Selah

Mason is a young man with autism who is passionate about video games and visiting the Nature and Science Museum. Sharing a deep connection with dogs, Mason was matched with skilled companion dog Selah to help de-escalate stressful situations, provide calming input by resting or leaning on Mason, and always offer love and unconditional friendship.

Kari & Elmer

Kari is a U.S. Army veteran living with PTSD and a back injury. With a passion for hiking and spending time outdoors, Kari was partnered with Freedom Service Dog Elmer to help her feel more comfortable in public spaces, ease her anxiety, retrieve items, and accompany her on adventures. With “big paws” to fill, Elmer will be serving as successor to Kari’s first FSD service dog, Matcha, and is up for the job! They look forward to a bright future ahead as a team.

Nathaniel, Michaela, & Pele

Nathaniel and Michaela are young siblings living with a rare genetic disorder known as Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDG). Along with neurodevelopmental disabilities, complications from this disorder also affect their mobility, vision, and speech. When the pair met yellow Labrador Pele, there was an instant connection. In addition to providing physical assistance, such as picking up dropped items and opening doors, Freedom Service Dog Pele also helps Nathaniel and Michaela by building their confidence, interrupting anxious behaviors, and providing support in challenging times. Says mom Heather, “Pele is a constant companion, a true friend who loves unconditionally, and a dog who loves her job!”

Dennis & Mahalo

Dennis is a devoted family man and grandfather diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. A retired EMT educator, Dennis also leads a Parkinson’s support group and enjoys doing house projects and spending time with his family. Hoping to regain independence and feel more at ease when his family isn’t around, Dennis was matched with Freedom Service Dog Mahalo. Mahalo helps Dennis by retrieving items, opening doors, supporting him on walks, and creating a sense of renewed freedom.

Rachel & Clarita

U.S. Army veteran Rachel graduated with Freedom Service Dog Clarita. Using her custom-trained skills, Clarita helps Rachel mitigate her symptoms of PTSD by interrupting anxious behaviors, providing deep pressure therapy to keep her calm, and reassuring her in public. Rachel recently completed her active duty, serving four years as an intelligence analyst. She enjoys writing poetry and just became a published author.

Tony & Polka

Tony is a former B52 pilot and U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam. Freedom Service Dog Polka helps him with the symptoms of PTSD by interrupting anxious behaviors and providing comfort in times of need. Embarking on a fresh chapter with Polka by his side, Tony looks forward to enjoying the relaxing island life with his new furry companion.

Mitchell & Kai

Mitchell is a sweet and caring young man who loves to play video games, jump on the trampoline, swing, and go for walks. In school, he loves math, social studies, and physical education. Diagnosed with autism and anxiety, Mitchell relies on yellow Labrador Kai to help him overcome stressful times by interrupting anxious behaviors and providing endless amounts of love and friendship. Mitchell is excited to share his life with his new best bud and always have Kai by his side.

Shirley & Shiloh

Shirley lives with Multiple Sclerosis and enjoys spending time with her family, going for walks, collecting coins, and participating in adaptive skiing. Following a life-changing journey with her first two Freedom Service Dogs, Shirley eagerly opened her heart and home to Shiloh, a sweet and gentle black Labrador retriever. Shiloh helps Shirley connect with new people, support her balance, retrieve her cane, pick up dropped items, and assist with opening doors.

Peter & Sloan

Peter is a curious, thoughtful, and resilient elementary student with neurodevelopmental disabilities. He enjoys spending time out of the house, making friends, and learning about the human body. He was matched with Freedom Service Dog Sloan, a mellow girl with a calming presence, to interrupt anxious behaviors, provide reassurance in public, open doors, and retrieve dropped items. She also helps build Peter’s confidence, encourages him to make friends, and soothes him during medical appointments. Always by his side, Sloan gives Peter the greatest gift every day: unconditional love and friendship.

Interested in sponsoring one of our future teams? Contact Shanda Griebel at [email protected] or 303-922-6231 ext. 240.

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