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Community Stories

11 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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

4 Debbie Z.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have seen firsthand the amazing work this group does. Like you hear in advertisements for other companies the value this organization brings to both individuals and the community is "priceless". I am and will continue to be an avid advocate and supporter for Operation Freedom Paws!

2 Richard119

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a veteran with three deployments on my back. Due to my PTSD I have not been able to experience the healing powers of this place but just knowing that you guys are out there and that you help out one of my friends I am able to push myself harder to one day to be able to leave the safety of my apartment and visit you guys.

3 Katrin H.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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!

Previous Stories
3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!!!

3 Kate Horwick

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I first met OFP's founder, Mary Cortani, in 2011. My heart was warmed by her group's powerful mission and I was amazed at what she had been able to accomplish is such a short amount of time. Mary has transformed her passion of working with dogs and helping others into an organization that has blossomed in the last 2 years and been able to help so many deserving group members. It is truly wonderful to see our Veterans receiving the help they need through OFP. The other beneficiary of this program are the dogs, many of which are rescued from shelters, and given another chance in life as well. Mary's organization proves that love can heal all wounds.

Review from Guidestar

5 Smoochie T.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

In 2003 I was declared permanently and totally disabled with, "No Improvement Likely". That was TEN long years ago. My PTSD has robbed me of most of the enjoyment of my life as well as most everything even just activities of daily life.

When a beautiful dog came into our lives we decided maybe we would try to train him to help me. Unfortunately there just are no organizations in the rural, remote are we live in. The dream then of having a 'service dog' became overwhelming. We were lost.

Then, one day call it fate, I stumbled on the Operation Freedom Paws facebook page. I find it difficult to express how truly wonderful these folks are. They didn't know me, I live a thousand miles away from them, I'm not in their classes, I have nothing to offer them and yet these amazing people extended a hand, offered training tips and ENCOURAGEMENT.

They are completely non-judgmental and the positive environment that they maintain keeps me 'up'. They also understand PTSD better than any psychiatrist I've been to.

I nearly cry as I write this. With their encouragement then we as a dog team became brave, we began going OUT to the store, down the street and in the process of training the dog, I began FOCUSING on something other than my disability. Having the disabled person train the service dog is the brilliance behind this whole idea. Disabled people need a purpose and that is exactly what this fulfills.

As my 'service dog in-training' actually began to complete his tasks in helping me, I began to have HOPE again for the first time in a decade.

Hope is one of the greatest gifts of all.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My role was not really listed as I just became a member who will be in training commencing May 18th. However, I can say that I've been looking for a program such as this type for the past 3 years (and in secret as I didn't want anyone to know of my interest in service dogs!). I suffer from PTSD / MST which is hard enough for me to divulge in itself, however; I finally got an affirmation from my counselor who suggested getting a service dog for both companion and work. I found out about Operation Freedoms Paws and had compared the program to a number of others. Now let me be clear, I believe that all these organizations who work with service dogs for Vets are all pronominal and deserve recognition, however; where I saw a big difference was in the manner in which Mary Cardoni - Founder of Operation Freedoms Paws, conducts her placing of service dogs with the character of the vets they be teaming up with. Key word being "TEAMING" as the understanding is that the Veteran is totaling emerged in learning to train his/her dog. The benefits and advantages to this approach in training are countless and I'm sure each person involved will count his or her blessing once they start the program. I believe Mary Cortani is a Trail Blazer of Operation Freedoms Paws her techniques may be the most important evolution in training that many organizations should follow.

Jorge L. Rodriguez
USMC

4 SanJose C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am blessed and honored to call Mary Cortani a close personal friend. I can say it is just as special to see Mary build a dream into a reality in the likeness of OFP. Utilizing her military training and her expertise as a canine trainer, Mary has built a foundation to surpass all expectations of service animals. Watching Mary transform a canine and handler into a team, a unit, a partnership is magical. Not only does she give our veterans a second chance to be part of communities, she allows them to break barriers that may have seemed impossible. PTSD, Food Allergies, Anxiety, and Diabetic Levels are just a few conditions off of a long list that Mary trains her Service Dogs to be aware of to protect thier handlers. Mary has selected a strong support team to help provide the services to Veterans in need. Giving new life and hope is also given to the canines she chooses from shelters and rescues. Though the demand is high and the hours are long, Mary is determined to continue the journey with passion and devotion. It is with great pleasure I am able to share this information of OFP and Mary Cortani!

4 Tracey8

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Mary Cortani and Operation Freedoms Paws offer an invaluable service to both veterans and the general public. Mary has a thorough understanding of dogs and their handlers and shares this knowledge in a supportive and effective manner. As a volunteer with a German Shepherd Rescue group I wholeheartedly recommend OFP to all GSD adopters.