Where there’s a Willa, there’s a way

Where there’s a Willa, there’s a way
Career-change dog loving life in DC

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Jeff and Sarah Issner were encouraged to adopt an FSD career-change dog by members of their family. After all, that family includes Jeff’s grandparents, Gilda and Werner Kaplan, who have been involved with FSD for years and are two of the organization’s most generous supporters, as well as his aunt, Lani Kessler, who serves on the FSD Board of Directors. After moving into their first house, located in Washington, DC, in June, the Issners decided it was time to support FSD in their own way.

Says Sarah, “I grew up with dogs, and my husband has always wanted one, so finding the right career-change pup felt like an amazing way to play our own role with FSD. Then when we got an email from FSD about Willa, we took one look at her big, sweet Lab eyes and knew we were done looking.”

With impatience born of excitement over their soon-to-be new family member, the Issners skipped right over “practical talk” about getting ready for a dog and immediately started planning how to get Willa from Colorado to the nation’s capital. Jeff flew to Denver, where he met his father and Willa, after which the trio started the 1,500-mile drive back to DC. Says Sarah, “They actually got a flat tire outside of Chicago at 2 a.m. and had to be towed to a tire store. The tow truck driver wouldn’t let Willa ride in the main truck, so Jeff and his dad rode in the car with Willa on the back of the tow truck. By the time they made it to DC, everyone was pretty bonded!”

After nearly two months in her new home, Willa has adjusted to city life beautifully. She is obsessed with playing fetch and loves meeting new friends (human and otherwise), sleeping in one of her many cozy dog beds, and snuggling with her “pawrents.” Says Sarah, “I grew up with Labs, so I thought I knew what to expect, but Willa is insanely sweet and the most loving pup I have ever met. If she’s not lying at our feet, on us, or next to us (touching, obviously!), then it’s likely she has taken herself to bed. If it’s a waking hour, she’s never more than an arm’s length away.”

The Issners have also noticed a big improvement in Willa’s self-confidence. “She’s gone from timidly greeting a new obstacle to an excited gallop when approaching a new friend or environment,” says Sarah. “Willa seems to now know that with her pack nearby, there’s no reason to be nervous.”

For anyone considering adopting their own FSD career-changer, Sarah has these words of encouragement: “Bringing any new family member into your home is going to come with its own complexities, but there’s no substitute for the unwavering and unrelenting love of our FSD pup. Of course, it’s amazing that she was fully house and crate trained when we picked her up, but more than anything, we have been amazed by her adaptability, receptivity to training, and amazing demeanor. We would adopt another FSD pupper in a heartbeat!”

Interested in a career-change dog from FSD? View our adoptable dogs.

Contact Erin Conley at econley@freedomservicedogs.org for all media inquiries.