MEET OUR MATCHES
JEFF & CELLO
Jeff and Cello were AnnieMac's very first match!
Jeff is a U.S. Air Force veteran who was matched with service dog Cello, a loving Labrador retriever who is helping Jeff address his PTSD symptoms and give him more confidence in social situations. Cello has been trained to create space around Jeff in public, wake him from nightmares when he tosses and turns, check out the house before Jeff enters, pick up items, push handicap buttons, and more. Jeff resides in Arizona and had been on FSD’s waitlist for 22 months before being matched with Cello in 2018.
Their bond is unbreakable.
ALEX & DAKOTA
Alex—whose name means “defender of men”—served seven-plus years on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps. As destiny might have it, he’s found his way to Dakota, a sweet, bright, sensitive soul who carries the name “ally and friend.” Battling through the effects of PTSD, Alex aspires to be the best father he can be to his wife and 4-year-old daughter by day, and by night, he looks to continue his education through graduate studies. With Dakota by his side, Alex is more confidently ready to share some of the load in public, as his camo-caped ally creates space and provides a reliable lap cover when Alex needs grounding.
YVETTE & CRUZ
Sometimes there are no words. We just get it right. Yvette is a Marine Corps veteran with PTS and some mobility issues. She was very anxious to be traveling to us for a match meeting but this seemed to melt away when she met Cruz. Yvette, who avoids stores even on a good day, was willing to take Cruz for a test drive around Target. When they completed the lap, before she left, Yvette, a proud Marine, let her guard down even more as she was a smiling, happy, tearful recipient of Cruz’s sloppy kisses on the face! Again, there really are no words I can give that speak more to the gratitude felt in times like this. I’d like to share a little bit of the email she sent to the Client Services Team the following day: “God Bless you all for the amazing work you do for people like me!! And I know this is just the beginning!!! The hope I left with that first day has turned into so much more, the possibility of living a better life, there are no words I can find to express how much it means to me!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!“ Cruz increases Yvette’s independence by retrieving items, pushing handicap buttons, and relieving her anxiety in crowds.
KATIE & CADENCE
Katie is a vocational rehabilitation counselor and U.S. Army veteran living with PTSD and limited mobility due to hip and lower-back conditions.
Service dog Cadence is the successor to Katie’s first FSD service dog, Tatum, who has retired and is enjoying his golden years in Katie’s home.
Cadence now assists Katie by retrieving her cane and other items, waking her from nightmares, and creating space around her in crowds.
EDDIE & ALFREDO
“He saved my life”
“Alfredo has forced me to get out of bed and be more active, even if it’s at home. I’m not as anxious about leaving the house now, so I have spent more time with my family outside of my house, including going to a movie theater together for the first time in almost eight years. Whenever I go somewhere, Alfredo provides space between the crowds and me, which is very helpful because it provides me peace of mind and gives me the buffer that I need from people. I have had numerous anxiety attacks, and he has calmed me from them. He has woken me up from several nightmares, even though that’s one of the tasks he’s working hard to improve. Alfredo is the battle buddy that I have been missing.”
CHRIS & REEF
Christopher is a US Army Gulf War veteran
and a retired police officer who experiences PTSD and limitations of mobility due to injuries sustained while serving in Iraq. When asked to sum up his first day experience with Reef, Chris said “Absolutely amazing!” By the end of the day, Reef was delighting everyone with her sweet, doting demeanor and giving Chris goodbye kisses.
Chris and Reef are equally excited to be starting their journey together and have a thrilled homecoming awaiting in Nebraska where Chris lives with his wife and two fashion-forward daughters. Both girls are
ready to attend to Reef’s “pretty girl needs” with lots of pink accessories.
Watch Chris's Story Here: Click Here
MICHELLE & BENZ
Just when we thought we had it all together, Michelle, another veteran, met Benz. Michelle is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who lives with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Michelle, understandably a bit hesitant and timid at first, found herself so taken with smart, sweet-faced girl, Benz, after just one good lap around Target that we could not get her to let go and go home! The fear and anxiety of coming in to say hello melted into the beginning of this sweet partnership. Service dog Benz wakes Michelle from nightmares, creates space around her in crowds, and helps manage her daily needs.
MARSHALL & BACON
Marshall is a law school student, avid skier, and active-duty member of the U.S. Army Special Forces who lives with PTSD and pain from a fractured back and other injuries. Service dog Bacon assists Marshall by retrieving items, creating space around him at school and in crowds, and helping him feel more comfortable in public.
Thomas & Valor
I’d like to formally introduce Thomas and, our boy (who some of you may have met at the 2023 golf tournament), Valor. Thomas is a U.S. Navy veteran with a career spanning over two decades, including deployments to Iraq and the Global War on Terror. His faithful— and aptly named—service dog Valor is a constant source of support, aiding him with his PTSD, mobility issues, and hearing challenges. Valor is trained to retrieve items, create space in crowded environments, and nudge Thomas to bring him back to the present moment. Nadine Pace had the honor of meeting Thomas during his time at FSD for placement class with Valor and he was so kind and grateful for this incredible gift.
Alex & Mink
Alex is a Marine Veteran that graduated with his former Freedom Service Dog, Pastel, in 2016. In June, Pastel decided that she'd be okay letting another dog take the reins to be Alex’s battle buddy, so Alex re-joined our waitlist. Alex was matched with Mink in September and was ever patient as we spent another couple of months to make sure Mink was in prime working order to meet his specific needs.