Cindy & Finley

My service dog, my lifeline

Cindy, a retired U.S. Army veteran, was deployed overseas four times in the roles of medic, firefighter, explosive ordnance disposal, and supply during her 24-year stint in the military. She recalls that her final tour was “the worst, as in being hurt. We want to try to remain as much whole as we can. It’s hard because a lot of us is missing. I left part of my brain downrange.”

When that happens, says Cindy, “You have to live with trying to find the right words, forgetting things all the time. It’s horrible. It was devastating to me personally.”

After returning to civilian life, Cindy found herself in need of extra mental and physical support. She was becoming more and more reclusive and didn’t want to leave her home, talk on the phone, or have visitors. She turned to Freedom Service Dogs and graduated with her first FSD service dog, Skeeter, in 2014. Following Skeeter’s retirement, Cindy received a successor dog named Finley in 2021 as part of our lifetime support program.

Today, Cindy and Finley are inseparable partners, even taking the huge step of going to restaurants together, where Finley helps Cindy stay calm by putting his head on her lap so she can rub his ears. Finley also assists Cindy by lying on her lap to interrupt anxious moments, creating space around her in public, waking her from nightmares, retrieving items for her, and more.

“I never realized how much a service dog impacts your life,” says Cindy. “Finley is the best thing I could ever have asked for. He makes me more me. Finley is my lifeline.”

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