Meet our newest graduates: December 2023

Join us in celebrating our newest graduating teams! This exceptional group of clients kicked off the new year on a high note, having spent two weeks at our FSD facility where they forged strong bonds with their furry companions, worked on their dog-handling and training skills, and practiced the unique cues their dog learned to meet their individual needs.

Read more to learn about these fur-tastic teams and wish them luck on their exciting journey that lies ahead in 2024!

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 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, โ€œPele is a constant companion, a true friend who loves unconditionally, and a dog who loves her job!โ€

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.

Contact Erin Conley at for all media inquiries.