When I retired over five years ago, I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer with my dog. I found Fidos For Freedom online and from the first time I walked into the facility, I felt like I'd found a new family. My dog and I love going on Therapy Dog visits. I've often said I don't know who gets the most out of our visits: the dog, the clients we visit or me. People are so thankful that you've taken the time to come to visit them. Over the years I have been asked to accept extra jobs, and I've happily done so. I now work with several Service Dog clients, teach a Therapy Dog class, etc. The volunteers at Fidos are the kindest, most dedicated people I know.
I am a long term volunteer at Fidos. Over the past 10 years, I have been a puppy raiser, on the board of directors, trained dogs through the prison program and been a dogless handler. The gifts of friendship and self worth I have received through out this time have been awesome. I am now in a different role-that of a client in training. I made a decision that I could live my life better with the assistance of a service dog a year ago. I am now learning all of the things that clients have been learning at Fidos for nearly 30 years. This is going to be a huge positive change in my life. The training that I am getting is done by volunteers (such as myself) who want to give back in some way. It is a rewarding, fulfilling and thoughtful agency that cares about the clients and dogs alike. You are with them for life. I find that these are not just words, but true actions. I cannot do anything but heap praise on this organization.
Since I started volunteering with Fidos for Freedom I have been impressed with the dedication of all involved. Therapy dog teams make numerous visits to hospitals, nursing homes, schools for special need students, family support centers. Other volunteers train assistance dogs to help clients live independently more easily. It is amazing to see a hearing dog direct its client to someone calling the client's name. Another service dog can pick up keys and retrieve items for a mobility impaired person. Or another dog provide a comfort zone for a vet with PTSD. Different clients with different needs met by assistance dogs individually trained to meet those needs. Truly an amazing group of volunteers and an amazing organization.
Love Fidos for Freedom. Great service dog program. They really care about the dogs and the clients. They are there for the life of the team. Fidos also has a wonderful therapy dog program with volunteers and their personal dogs visiting hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities to share their dogs with the patients and residents on a regular basis.
I joined Fidos as a volunteer 20 years ago. At that time I had two retired racing Greyhounds and both my dogs and I joined Fidos Therapy dog program and visited hospitals and nursing homes. After several years of enjoying the therapy dog work I learned how to task train the puppies and young dogs that would eventually become assistance dogs to help either a person with a hearing loss or a person with a physical disability. This turned out to be the most rewarding experience I have ever encountered. Fidos is like a family. They really care about the dogs and the people. We have a great support system, not only for the volunteers but for the clients that Fidos serves. I can speak from experience since several years ago, I gave up my role as a full-time trainer to become a Fidos client who received a Fidos service dog to assist me with my day-to-day activities. Even after the dogs go home with the clients, if there is ever a training problem, Fidos policy is that we will always be there to help the team!
From the moment I met the people at Fidos, I knew this was a place I wanted to volunteer with my dog. I wanted to bring my crazy canine into the Therapy Dog fold because he was made up of love, happiness and hope. My mother died of complications from Alzheimers so I wanted to help out a group composed of others with forms of dementia. I am a vet so I wanted to try and participate in the Wounded Warriors program and visit those at Walter Reed and Andrews. Finally, I love kids. They are our future so if I could visit those in a hospital, my desires would be fulfilled. After a rigorous test and four weeks of additional training, my dog and I are ready to go out and greet the world! This marvelous group of people are committed to providing exceptional service in all areas to handlers, those in need and the dogs they train. I am very proud to be part of Fidos for Freedom and I look forward to many years of service on their behalf.
An 8-week old Labrador puppy wriggles in anticipation behind a chain link fence with her littermates. She's a bundle of energy and love. Some puppies will become a family's pet. Others might become a companion for an empty nester couple. But there are a few special puppies that have what it takes to become an ADI certified assistance dog.
The trainer picks up the Lab puppy and brings her into a big room with toys, strange noises, upside-down umbrellas, and so many other new things. The trainer studies the puppy to see if she has the right attitude to become a service dog some day. A dog dedicated to serving her client with total devotion. A dog that enables her client's life in ways big and small. The trainer watches the puppy intently, trying to envision the spirit of the full grown dog. The puppy is cusrious and attracted to new things. The trainer decides.
Flash forward about 2 years and that same puppy is now matched with her client. The dog and the client are a brand new "team". The client now has a new helper and a life-long friend. The puppy is now a confident, well-trained and dedicated service dog. Ready to do whatever is asked of her by her client.
Officially, Fidos for Freedom is an all-volunteer organization that provides trained service dogs for people with disabilities. Fidos does change the lives of their clients. Unofficially, Fidos also helps puppies become the best dog that they can be, confident, ready for the world and dedicated to service.
This partnership of incredibly dedicated volunteers, beautifully trained dogs and very generous donors has created something very special in the Baltimore-Washington corridor -- an organization that serves those across a wide spectrum of needs. Best of all, it does it aty a very minimal expense. This is very impressive organization!
In my three years as a volunteer at Fidos for Freedom, I have had a college-level education in the lives of people with disabilities, service dogs and therapy dogs, and as importantly, in the wonderful people who dedicate their precious time to support this community. That short volunteer time frame has been enough for me to watch a puppy evolve from a fuzzy ball into a fully-functioning service dog to a wheelchair bound client. I've also been moved as an experienced assist dog "transfers" and recovers from the passing of their original client, and begins to beautifully serve a new client. Needless to say, that sort of output from one's volunteer investment warms any heart.
To me, the most fascinating aspect of this organization is that, unlike many similar organizations, Fidos only charges a modest fee to its clients, as opposed to tens of thousands of dollars that some others charge We are able to do this as a result of a very engaged and generous community, and some equally generous breeders.
Being a healthcare professional, I am also impressed with the response of patients to our therapy dogs. As the literature around pets and health continues to expand, the value of this service, wherein we sent teams of therapy dogs to hospitals, nursing homes, college campuses and other situations, increases rapidly. These, too, are all volunteers, dedicated to improving the lives of those in need.
I am honored to be associated with Fidos for Freedom!
As a client of this organization they have helped me more than I ever thought possible. I have a hearing dog that now helps me get places on time, not burn my dinner lets me know when people are calling my name. Life is Good
I volunteer here and see first hand the wonderful things they do for people that need a service dog. The therapy dog program is wonderful - bringing smiles and love to children and people that are in hospitals, nursing homes,children's hospital especially, is all you need to see to understand how much joy Fido's brings to people.
My dog Lily and I were volunteers at Fidos for years until this year when Lily retired from her therapy dog duties. We participated in the DEAR (Dogs Educating and Assisting Readers) at a local elementary school for 5 years. This was such a wonderful experience for us and for the children we helped get to their grade level in reading.
Fidos is a great organization supporting the community with service dogs and therapy dogs. Please give if you can to support their mission.