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Service Dogs Transforming Lives

Freedom Service Dogs of America Provides Trained Assistance Dogs Nationwide From Right Here In Colorado

It is a well-known adage that dogs are a man’s (and a woman’s!) best friend. However, this local nonprofit has an even deeper understanding of the role a dog can serve.

“Clients often say that their dog saved their life,” says Erin Conley, the Communications Director at Freedom Service Dogs (FSD). “Dogs have found their humans in crisis, or even pressed life alert buttons. They also provide needed companionship and connection.”

FSD aims to unleash the potential of dogs by transforming them into custom-trained, life-changing assistance dogs for people who live with certain disabilities. Though it costs between $30,000 and $50,000 to train one dog, they are completely free to those accepted into the program. Accredited by Assistance Dogs International, the highest standard, FSD ensures that both team members are equipped to support one another.

In order to achieve these goals, FSD does quite a bit of work. Nobody tells the story of this organization better than the people who are most closely a part of it. Here are a few testimonies from recent graduating classes.

London & Lori (Team LoLo)

“I remember the day I got the call from FSD. It was August 14th. “We think we have a service dog for you. Are you interested?” Amanda asked. Was that a loaded question, or what? Of course, I said yes. From then on, I counted every day, every hour, until I could look into London’s baby brown puppy dog eyes. Then the day came. Several of us met in the conference room at FSD. I had to fake paying attention, and kept telling myself, “Let’s just get to it! I want to meet this little fur ball!”  Finally, someone let London into the room. She slathered me with the wettest, sloppiest kisses, and she hasn’t stopped since.

London is a great conversation starter to bring people into the realm of disability culture. I’m no longer stared at as a human liability, and people don’t question what’s wrong with me. They become comfortable with seeing me as a unique individual with a unique way of dealing with the world— and, with a cute dog.”

Jackson & Windy

Jackson is an exuberant 12-year-old with autism. Windy has been trained to snuggle with Jackson and help him stay calm in times of stress with simply a nudge of her nose.

“I like Windy because she’s always happy, she comes to me in the mornings and she goes crazy! We get up, play in the morning, and rest at night-time,” Jackson says. “I pet her, rub her belly, and sometimes feed her treats so she’ll be good.”

Windy’s kisses help Jackson relieve stress, and he says that rubbing her belly is undoubtedly his favorite part to pet. He says that she does the “wiggle butt” when she plays, and that he will “wiggle her butt for the rest of my life!”

Danny & Mentor, U.S. Air Force Veteran

Danny is studying to become a Licensed Professional Counselor with the hope of helping fellow veterans.

“Mentor has really helped me with my anxiety and PTSD. Being diagnosed with PTSD while on active duty is very isolating, and after losing so many of my friends, I realized things needed to change. That’s where Mentor came into the picture. Mentor helps me get out more and socialize. I look forward to hiking and traveling with him because I haven’t been able to due to the anxiety of not having anyone around.

If you’re on the fence about getting a service dog, you should look into it. I used to compare myself to a lot of veterans by thinking things like, “I’m not missing an arm or a leg, so I don’t need a service dog.” However, my service dog changed me, helped me through therapy, and is still helping me today.”

Ben & Lapis

U.S. Air Force Veteran

“My name is Ben, and I am 38 years old. I came to Freedom Service Dogs looking to acquire a service animal because there are a lot of things, including combat related stress, that I struggle with. Sometimes, with my triggers, I am not able to cognitively be present. Lapis really helps me, and when I’m out with her, I can constantly engage with her, treat her, and monitor her behavior. We built a connection, and it’s pretty powerful. However, it took me a while to get used to her and to be able to read her body language. I think that’s what practicing mindfulness is about… it’s about monitoring your senses and staying present, and she helps me do that. It’s amazing.

I remember lying in bed the night that I first got Lapis. I felt discouraged and wondered if I would be able to do this. I had all of these doubts, was sobbing uncontrollably on my bed— kind of triggered— and she jumps up and starts licking my neck. Almost immediately, she pulled me out of that negative thought process. It is a really good grounding skill that I didn’t teach her or tell anybody that I needed. She just knew.”


Volunteers Needed!

FSD needs Colorado residents to volunteer and help raise the next generation of service dog trainees. These specially-trained volunteers will host a 4-5 month old puppy in their homes for approximately 10 months. They play an integral role by reinforcing basic obedience and manners, as well as socializing them through exposure to different people, places, and experiences. The hope is that these puppies will grow up to be service dogs that increase the independence and self sufficiency of their human partners. It's a big commitment, but so rewarding!

  • Danny and Mentor
  • Jackson and Windy
  • Ben and Lapis
  • Lori and London