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Community Stories

63 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer at OFP, and although they show so much gratitude to me every time I help out, I am the one who is grateful. I feel so lucky to be involved with this most amazing organization. The other reviews tell first hand what OFP does for the clients, so obviously, they're doing something so valuable. But from my perspective, I get to spend a couple of days each week observing from the inside clients and employees alike sharing the most positive energy I have ever felt. Employees and volunteers are there because they care and seem to love what they are doing. And clients are there because they are doing something that improves their lives and they sure look like they're having fun. And the dogs seem so engaged and so happy and so well loved. Thank you, OFP, for letting me participate.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a 70 year old female veteran. I am in a power wheelchair, am diabetic, have TBI, PTSD, serious balance issues etc. Obviously not someone that is an "easy case". I tried for about 4 years to get a service dog. Contacted the VA, and every agency that trains dogs that I could find all over the U.S. I pretty much decided to give it one last try when I contacted operation Freedom Paws.
When they told me to come down for an interview I will admit I was terrified they would turn me away. I was/am at a point where a three year waiting list was just too daunting to take on.
I still can't believe they accepted me (part of my PTSD etc makes it really difficult to see any worth in myself). I have been matched with a beautiful soul...a black lab named Tebow. We live almost a thousand miles away and it is not easy.......but it is beyond worth it.
Thanks to OFP and Tebow I am more hopeful about my life than I have been in years.

Review from Guidestar

Sabrina15

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am not a veteran And my dog is not a service dog. We are members of the general public who have decided to support this great organization by taking classes they offer to the public.

My dog Maya and I have been taking obedience classes that are offered here. Maya is deaf and I was having difficulty learning to communicate with her.

OFP and their staff have been so encouraging and patient with us.

I have had multiple dogs throughout my life time and have taken obedience training classes with each dog and various places and I have to say, hands down, I have had THE best experience here.

I will continue to take as many training classes as they offer for as long as I can. The pups and the people trained at OFP are amazing.

I recommend them to anyone and everyone I know.

Review from Guidestar

1 Jill109

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am not a client or volunteer but I've been following this amazing organization for a few years. They provide a needed service for our veterans and for civilians with disabilities too. The Monday Mentoring posts gave helped me with my own dog. I now take him to our community park when we go on walks so that he gets his olfactory exercise too. After reading a tip about a dogs sense of smell I started this practice and he loves it. Other tips about body language have helped me too. I pay attention to that now and it has really helped me to know what he's trying to tell me.
This non profit seems to be very good at helping a lot of people and their dogs in many different ways. It's so wonderful to see and hear about the dedication of this group of people. They seem to do it all and rescue dogs that need a home and a job.

Review from Guidestar

1 Rey O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It has been one year since I finished this program. It has made a huge difference in my life. Operation Freedom Paws has an excellent staff of volunteers who really care for their clients. Mary Cortani is very passionate about helping veterans and non veterans who have disabilities that are seen and unseen. This program saves lives; it has saved mine.

1 Writer

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Freedom Paws - 4 paws, 2 feet, 1 team. For some strange reason, I thought I would be the team leader. My service dog, Linda, is a Black Lab and a career change dog. Bred to be a guide dog for the blind, she didn’t make the cut--too much personality. Linda can also be a bit demanding. You see, I have multiple sclerosis and I guess you could also call her my caregiver. When I am tired (which happens often), she tells me when to sit down or when to lie down and take a nap. She tells me when I need to get up and start moving around. Linda provides the balance that I lack. She comforts me when my memory fails, which helps me regain my thoughts. Add these things together and I have more confidence in myself. As for me being the team leader, things are much better when Linda is in charge.

Review from Guidestar

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Client Served

Rating: 5

I have multiple sclerosis and I am amazed with what Operation Freedom Paws can do with people. They add one service dog and lives are changed. I have found the more confidence I have in my dog, the more confidence I have in myself. Four paws, two feet, one team. Once I realized that I am not the team leader, the easier everything else was. If I am not sure what to do, I have learned to trust the dog.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I became a client with Operation Freedom Paws in late 2010. Very shortly after beginning the process I realized that this was going to be much more than dog training. OFP literally saved my life (more than once) in my darkest days. They have brought me closer to my wife and children, and have included me into the OFP family.
With the help of Mary Cortani and her staff I am walking proud and have found a new mission in life- helping others build a new life as a Mentor Trainer with Operation Freedom Paws.

Review from Guidestar

kathywadd

Client Served

Rating: 5

Words cannot express my gratitude for OFP. I received a diabetic alert dog from another agency for 15K and she had no public access skills. OFP took me into their program free of charge in 2015 and today she is a different dog. She has all the behavioural skills necessary to be a service dog. Not only does she alert me to out of healthy range blood sugars, she has also assisted me with recognizing my fatigue due to my Multiple Sclerosis. She has also helped me up after falls and helps calm my anxiety. I am so impressed with the integrity of this non-profit in all areas of their business. They are truly saving veterans and dogs lives everyday. It has become my passion to volunteer for OFP to help others experience this life changing love!





Review from Guidestar

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a diabetic and also have multiple sclerosis. I started having dangerous low blood sugars and I needed a diabetic alert dog that would alert me before my blood sugar went out of range, so I could take corrective action before a medical problem appeared.I did fundraising and raised 15K from my community supporters to purchase my diabetic alert dog from a traditional service dog organization. The dog I received at a weekend pickup meeting was unfortunately only very minimally trained, only 8 months old, did some alerting, but lacked many of the basic obedience and public access skills required for a service dog. I was badly in need of some help with my dog and am so grateful that Mary Cortani and Operation Freedom Paws took me under their wings in Jan 2015. In the past three months my dog improved greatly in her obedience and public access skills as well as alerting me. A big surprise and blessing to me was that I thought I was going to OFP to train my dog. I found out that my life improved as much as my dog's! Through working with OFP I have experienced the beginning of emotional healing from past trauma, as well as improved physical, mental and spiritual health. I am looking forward to the healing continuing for all.

Working with OFP has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and for that I will forever be eternally grateful!


Review from Guidestar

2 Denny M.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Operation Freedom Paws for over 4 years now. I started as a client with my dog Abbey in July 2012. Abbey and I became a certified team in June 2013. This program has saved my life and given me a new purpose. OFP has become a very important part of my and my family's life. We have continued in training and now I also serve as a Board Member which I have found to be very rewarding. Seeing changes in lives of other clients as well as my own has been one of the greatest things to be apart of. This is a wonderful organization and I honored to be to be serving with it.

Review from Guidestar

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a Vietnam Veteran with PTS. My Great Dane, Abbey, and I were accepted into the Operation Freedom Paws "family" by founder/President Mary Cortani in July, 2012. We were certified as a Service Dog Team in June, 2013. Due to my situation at the time, I committed to attending two to three sessions per week. The time Abbey and I spent training was needed for completely bonding. A tremendous amount of healing was going on at the same time. Abbey and I look forward to seeing old and new friends in our training sessions. It's difficult for me to describe how thankful I am to OFP for teaching me the skills needed for finding a new "normal" for myself and my family.

Review from Guidestar

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Janet34

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Operation Freedom Paws since 2012. I was a volunteer, then a customer, then a client, then a staff member. I envisioned my retirement quite differently, but I am passionate about OFP , its methods, and its clients. Over 2 million dogs are euthanized in the US every year. Doctors are learning that service dogs can help with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, diabetes, seizures, autism, allergen detection....the list is constantly growing. By using rescued dogs and teaching the client to train his/her own dog for his/her specific disabilities, OFP creates a healing bond that is hard to describe, but a joy to witness. I have my own service dog, a rescued pit bull whom I trained under OFP's guidance to help me with my life-threatening peanut allergy. On her own, she figured out how to help me with the anxiety that is part of a serious food allergy like mine, as well as with pain management from a 40-year old back injury. OFP has changed my life, and I've watched the lives of many other people change since 2012. I'm proud to give OFP a 5-star review.

Review from Guidestar

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My service dog and I continue to learn and grow with Operation Freedom Paws. She started out being trained as a peanut-alert dog to help me avoid reactions from my life-threatening allergy. But she learned also to alert me to back pain that I've dealt with for 40 years. She tells me to sit down and take a break before the pain gets so bad that I HAVE to stop. She learned this on her own, and it took me a while to recognize it. But her alerts really help keep me from overdoing and paying for it the next day!

I also am privileged as an OFP staff member to work with the veterans that OFP helps by teaching them to train their own service dogs to help with injuries like PTSD, brain injuries, mobility assistance, and hearing loss. It's incredibly rewarding to watch veterans and rescued dogs work diligently together, learning to become well-matched teams. In this program, dogs and people save each other, and the bonds they share are truly life-altering.

Review from Guidestar

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