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October 31, 2014
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October 31, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

As a survivor of several different traumas in my life, I was amazed when I thought I was going to foster a dog…………and he saved my life! I was bound to the house in isolation by fear, and I wasn’t even aware of it until Jax came into my life. I thought that this dog could be a wonderful service dog, the problem I was having was finding a training program. That’s where Mary and OFP came to the rescue!! I am not a veteran so I was a little skeptical about being accepted into the program, and Mary had her reservations about Jax at first but then she saw the potential of us becoming a viable team. The training has been amazing however, Mary goes above and beyond constantly in ways that have always astounded me! She has the amazing gift to read people’s emotions, intervene when it’s appropriate, stay silent when it’s a lesson for the individual to learn, and to simply lay it on the line when you need it, even if you don’t want to hear it! She is very stealth and sometimes you aren’t even aware that she knows your alive and then, all of a sudden, wham!! I have gained so much self confidence and learned so much about myself I can’t even begin to say enough about Mary Cortani and her vision, she is such a wise woman!!! Although Jax has his certification, I don’t think I will ever stop going to training and being involved with the OFP team. It has been an honor to be involved in this organization and I will always support it in any way I can. I have met many friends at OFP that will be in my life forever. That is what happens when you bring the best out of people, they become a quality community!! Of course, there is an entire team that makes OFP work: Janet, Jeff, Jeremiah, and George are on the front lines as trainers and they are so appreciated! Then there is the Board of Directors, the staff and all the volunteers that are behind the scenes and are a vital part of the program to make Mary’s vision a reality. "Everything, everyday is a training opportunity".....Thank you so much Mary and the entire OFP Staff!!
October 31, 2014
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October 31, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

We live nearly 2,000 miles away in a very rural area. I had given up hope. Divine intervention brought us to Operation Freedom Paws and through the long distance communications they have guided us every step of the way.

They are professional, compassionate and transparent in their
actions. They provided us with up to date, concise information regarding how to properly handle ourselves in public, how to advocate and help educate as part of our role as a service dog team.

My dog has changed my life and has done so with the help of Operation Freedom Paws and Mary Cortani and Janet Wenholz as well as all the other 'OFP Family'.

October 29, 2014
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October 29, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

I was diagnosed with seaver PTSD until I met Mary and the OFP staff I had major problems dealing with people. I've only been in the program for about 30 days and am now able to go to sporting events with my partner Sadie. I am now able to feel normal thanks to Mary Cortani and her staff
October 29, 2014
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October 29, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

I started as the wife of a client. My husband started working with Operation Freedom Paws a little over three years ago training with his dog Lobo. The process changed our lives. With Lobo by his side Jeff was able to fulfill his life long dream of attending college. He served in the Army for 14 years and was never able to finish his degree because of his deployments. He was medically evacuated out of Iraq in 2004 and the aftermath of those injuries changed his life and greatly hampered his ability to feel safe in large crowds and he slowly spiraled in to a deep isolation that threatened our family life. The Work with Operation Freedom Paws gave him the tools to combat his fears, his work with Lobo allowed him to go to college. At college he gained confidence and began working with the veterans groups helping other veterans. I would attend training classes and I was always impressed with how much the dogs could help the veterans. But it was not until we had a huge family tragedy that I realized the depth of caring and support Mary Cortani gives to everyone in the program. In May of 2013 I became very ill, and shortly after that my husband lost his service dog Lobo to a tragic accident. We had lost our income once I got sick, I was faced with huge medical bills and complications and Jeff was beyond devastated by losing his service dog Lobo.The Operation Freedom Paws family, was at our home helping us through this for days and they proved to me how very committed to every member the program is by being present to help us through this terrible time. Mary knew Jeff was devastated by the loss and she understood how the loss was triggering all of his previous war trauma and she knew to introduce him to a new dog to keep him focused on training and not fall into the repair of losing Lobo. So Selah a incredible exuberant yellow lab came into our lives. It took a while for Jeff to be able to see beyond the grief, but Selah in the way only a dog can do - stayed in his face ready to give unending love and the people of Operation Freedom Paws were there two everyday working to help us make our way through.

It was shortly after this that I began to realize how much a service dog could help me with my medical condition and I applied to the program. Now completely disabled and with out a salary, I would never had had the funds to get a service dog in any other way. Operation Freedom Paws paired me with Ellie, and we began training together. Ellie goes with me to al of my hospital visits and she helps me through some very grueling home treatments where I am in PICC lines for 10-12 weeks at a time. I cannot express how much Mary Cortani and all of the folks at Operation Freedom Paws has done for our family. The training is not just about teaching the dog tasks; as it goes so much deeper. As someone who was transitioning into the reality that I was not permanantly disabled by a medical condition that would become worse over time, the training helped me work through all the anger and loss I felt in coming to terms with my new reality. It taught me how to work with my service dog as an extension of myself to allow me to function in the world again, how to begin to feel whole again.

For me, the service dog training has saved my life on a very literal level. Ellie is and extension of me and we work together to manage my medical condition. Ellie alerts me to when I need to take my medication and she helps me with my chronic pain levels. My pain takes a high level of medication to treat and working Ellie has helped me lower my doses on those medicines. My Doctor and I have mapped my progress while working with Ellie, and my blood pressure levels have lowered as well. Ellie has helped me to get back out into the world and feel safe that if I were to fall or go into crisis that she is there to assist me. A month ago, while at home I fell in my bedroom, and I fell in such a way that I could not gather the breath to call for help. I was stuck on the floor between the bed and the wall and unable to breathe. Ellie opened the door and ran down to notify the people in my house that I needed help. The people were outside with the glass door shut and Ellie barked and scratched at the for until they came to open it and then she lead them back to me back in my bed room. Ellie brought me help directly when I needed it and saved me again. My medical condition is permanent and progressive so we are continuing to train new tasks as we need them. This is what makes Operation Freedom Paws so special, so unlike many of the other programs for service animals. They care about you getting back to the best quality of life and they mean it. The people of Operation Freedom Paws are very much my chosen family, the training classes are a safe place for me to go and work through relearning how to do the things that most people take for granted.

Unlike the medical therapy centers who will kick you out as soon as your insurance runs out, I know the Operation Freedom Paws people are in this with me for the long haul. As long as we are wiling to put in the work, and then everyday is a training opportunity. I cannot express how much Operation Freedom Paws has changed mine and my Husband's lives. They have given us the hope that we had lost, and helped us work to regain our quality of life. The service dog training gave my husband hope for the future, as he is close to finishing his degree with honors and has been recognized with awards for service because his service dog Selah gave him the courage to finish school and motivation to give back to other veterans. Now Jeff works as a mentor trainer at OFP and he continues to work for the veterans centers at local colleges. This coming May, my husband will graduate with honors and go on to help others; which is what the program is all about.
October 27, 2014
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October 27, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

Mary Cortani has a vision, it's that vision along with care and understanding that drives her and her team. I was suffering from CONSTANT FEAR, fear of everything and everywhere, I struggled to go to my mailbox or even the corner store to get food when I was out. Finding Operation Freedom Paws has been the best gift I've ever received. Mary has a way of matching a client with a rescue dog that is perfect for that disabled person, she learns about your needs from your application and face to face meeting, then the magic happens. Mary always has dogs that are ready to be matched with a disabled partner and she is also able to get you matched with your dog much faster than any other organization I contacted. The other thing her organization does is get the person out and talking with others that understand the struggles we endure. Believe it or not, the training and everything you need during your training is provided at no cost. That includes Vet costs, food, and any specialized items your dog may need. Learning to train your own service dog under professional supervision, builds a bond with the dog that allows you and your dog to become a natural team. We all train together learning basic obedience skills, then advanced obedience skills. The specialized training that your dog needs for your specific disability or disabilities, is integrated from the beginning, slowly. My life has changed in so many ways that it's ridiculous to try and list, alone I'm a disaster, with my dog I have a life. All of Operation Freedom Paws operating costs are by covered by donation or grant, they are a registered Non-Profit And many volunteer opportunities are available at the new facility, so if you are local, and a dog lover, come sign up and meet Mel the dancing Poodle! Thank you Mary and the team
October 21, 2014
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October 21, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

As a community member, most of the organizations I support financially (and VERY selectively) are civil rights-oriented. Because of my experience with members of their staff and volunteers, I have made an exception for OFP. The professionalism and dedication of the staff and volunteers is amazing and the impact they are making to the lives of these special animals and OFP's human clients is life-changing and inspiring.

I am grateful that OFP is doing this important work and will continue to support them financially. I hope that you'll consider doing the same.
October 20, 2014
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Review from Guidestar
October 20, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

Thanks to all the people at Operation Freedom Paw I have been regaining my confident. I now am able to go to parties and gathering where there are a lot of people and feel more comfortable and enjoy the event.

My husband enjoy this new found freedom as well. He dose not have me glue to him
the whole time with a vice grip on his arm.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

October 20, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
October 20, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

Thank you Operation Freedom Paws for giving my life back to me. Being outdoors, in crowds, anxiety, depression can now be managed with the help of Bochy, my service dog.

Mary and her team provide excellent support and training, and along the way I have learned a lot about myself. I was
amazed how quickly I was accepted into the program. Waiting lists for some programs can be 2-5 years. In my case it was only a few weeks before Bochy and I were matched.

As a non-Veteran, finding a service dog program can be difficult. Mary and team welcomed me with open arms and continue to support Bochy and myself.

Programs like Operation Freedom Paws save lives and it is because of the amazing work Mary and her team proves.

Thank you Operation Freedom Paws!!
October 19, 2014

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Review from Guidestar
October 19, 2014

Mary and the OFP staff and volunteers are the most unselfish and giving group of people I've ever come across. Mary is hands in and giving of her time in more ways than I can verbalize. OFP has given me the tools to help me deal with my disability and try to manage everyday life as best I can. This is a great organization.
October 19, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

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1 previous review
November 5, 2012

I love Operation Freedoms Paws, while living in California I was fortunate enough to meet Mary Cortani , she is a incredible trainer with a natural sense on matching teams together and strengthening t... more

October 19, 2014
1 person found this review helpful

Operation Freedom Paws is an incredible organization. While living in Monterey I had the chance to get to know Mary Cortani and I have learned so much from her. Even though I moved to Hawaii two years ago, Mary is still a great friend and will always be there to give good advice and listen when there is a dog crisis.
I have seen her and the great OFP trainers transform veterans and shelter dogs in incredible teams that are saving each other. They put a lot of work in socialization and obedience training. I am so happy for them that they move to a new and bigger facility so that they can help more veterans and other people in need of a service dog and help with dog training. I can't wait to visit and see them all in action again!
November 5, 2012
2 people found this review helpful

I love Operation Freedoms Paws, while living in California I was fortunate enough to meet Mary Cortani , she is a incredible trainer with a natural sense on matching teams together and strengthening them. For the most part I worked with Mary on Sundays during her hobby as a Search and Rescue Dog trainer for MCSARD :-) But I was always welcome to join her classes in Gilroy. I enjoyed every class, watching the veterans learning to trust in their dogs was just amazing. On days where new veterans came without a dog yet, Mary would give them one of my dogs, Sean to see how the vets would do with him and I could coach them a bit. Sean always loved it, since that just meant more treats for him :-) I will always support Operation Freedoms Paws and their amazing cause!!!

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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