a new leash on life
partner: freedom service dogs
location: englewood, colorado
amount we have donated: $32,530.57
mission: freedom service dogs rescues dogs that are then trained to rescue humans, giving dogs a new leash on life and a person a second chance. dogs are custom-trained for those in need: veterans and active duty military, children and adults with wide-ranging physical and mental difficulties.
freedom service dogs learn more than 150 commands. they are trained to pick up items as small as a coin or credit card; they can pull wheelchairs; they can turn off lights and press elevator buttons; they can wake their owner up from night terrors.
it takes 7-10 months to train a dog. the dogs are given to clients with no charge.
here is a story of spice and virginia who live in olympia, washington
spice is a staffordshire terrier and labrador mix. she was rescued from a shelter in new mexico that gasses dogs that are not adopted within a certain amount of time. “she was basically on death row…and i like to think that the same exact time she was going through her horrible-ness, i was going through mine. i had such an intense amount of hurt and pain… and now here we are, together.”
for about four years, post-traumatic stress and paranoia kept virginia within the walls of her home. “ptsd just kind of crawls up your back — it’s there and you don’t know why.”
the veteran administration hospital denied ptsd until 1982. it was thought only men had ptsd from combat. there were no programs for female veterans with ptsd available until the late 1980’s.
“i had pushed it down so deep inside me that i tried to avoid it. my whole life i’ve been in a depressed state from that point on. a fight to forget.” because her post traumatic stress was never addressed for 30 years, her symptoms heightened in 2013. the turn of events led virginia to attempt suicide.
since the day of spice’s arrival, the two have not left each other’s sight except with virginia’s new command of having spice stay out of the kitchen while virginia cooks.
“i can go outside now. be underneath the sky.”
virginia has reclaimed her life with the help of spice.
“today, i went swimming, and i am saying hello to people. they are waving at me! smiling at us! they want to know how spice can sit there so long while i swim. i am creating more relationships and people are welcoming me in ways i have not experienced in a long time.”
virginia has more goals: she dreams of being able to go to a painting studio again and to being able to practice art outside of her home. she has goals of swimming with spice in the puget sound.
though spice’s odds of making it from the streets in new mexico and through service dog training seemed pretty low, the odds this dynamic duo will achieve virginia’s dreams and goals seem pretty high.
thank you freedom service dogs for changing the lives of both canines and humans; for creating a better world; for spreading doggie kisses and kindness.