Meet our newest graduates: winter 2022

New grads warm our hearts

What better way to start off the new year than by introducing our newest FSD graduates? Our winter 2022 grads include two adults with mobility challenges, two young people with autism or other neurocognitive disabilities, and two veterans, one of whom went home with a successor dog as part of our lifetime support program. Congratulations to these terrific teams, and we wish you all the best in 2023!

Adam & Sherpa

Adam is a young man with autism and a neurocognitive disorder who sought out a service dog to be his new best friend. Sherpa, his stylish canine companion, accompanies Adam to high school, sports events, and everything in between. Adam’s job at a doggy day care prepared him for all the responsibilities of keeping Sherpa in tip-top shape. Known for his sweet, sincere face, Sherpa provides soothing deep-pressure therapy, alerts to Adam’s anxiety cues, and creates space around Adam in crowds when the going gets tough. This team is sponsored by Dr. Marty Pets.

Alex & Mink

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Alex graduated with his first FSD successor dog, Mink, in November 2022. Mink helps Alex deal with his PTSD, fear of crowds, and aversion to interacting with people by calming his anxiety, nudging him in crowds to let him know he is not alone, and comforting him after nightmares. Alex’s first FSD service dog and battle buddy, Pastel, is continuing his distinguished service in retirement as a loyal canine companion. This team is sponsored by AnnieMac Home Mortgage.

Brendan & Hagrid

Brendan is a special education teacher whose talents include improv comedy and making music. He has myotonic dystrophy, a genetic disorder that affects the muscles and other body systems. In 2021, Brendan graduated with skilled companion dog Hagrid, who is Brendan’s first-ever dog and has been helping Brendan stay steady on stairs and walks around the neighborhood. In December 2022, they returned to FSD placement class for a skills refresher so that Hagrid could become a full-fledged service dog and accompany Brendan on vacations and to monthly open mic gigs at his favorite coffee shop.

Carina & Kura

Carina is a talented young trainer who is excited to continue building upon the skills of her new service dog, Kura. Carina first learned about service dogs by puppy raising for another organization and came to Freedom Service Dogs in search of a custom-trained partner. Kura is an expert at reminding Carina of her stress cues, as well as providing targeted deep-pressure therapy to help de-escalate stressful situations. They are both looking forward to exploring the many world-renowned museums of their home city and being more independent while out in public.

Carolyn & Nacho

Carolyn is a young woman living with a heart condition that significantly affects her mobility and endurance. When not cultivating new cultures in the lab (she’s finishing her Ph.D. in virology), she loves exploring the art, culture, and jazz scene of Louisiana. She graduated with Nacho, a black Lab with a unique vocal styling who brings his comments to the serious focus on his work. In addition to providing laughs with his goofy antics, Nacho helps Carolyn maintain independence by picking up dropped items, opening doors, and retrieving essential items in a pinch. She is excited to welcome him into the family fold with beagle Remmy, the lovable show dog, and Sam, the giant house bunny. This team is sponsored by Dr. Marty Pets.

LeoLuis & Biscotti

LeoLuis is a veteran of the U.S. Army who last served as a culinary specialist. He lives in Iowa with his wife but still visits family in his native Guam. LeoLuis graduated with Biscotti, a sweet and steady companion who helps retrieve dropped items, creates space around LeoLuis in crowded places, and provides support during migraine attacks. This team is sponsored by the Ken W. Davis Foundation.

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

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