We train dogs to be task-trained service dogs. This means that the dogs are able to perform specific tasks to assist his/her handler's Activities of Daily Living (ADL). A brief list of examples might include:
Retrieving items off the floor
Waking up a handler who has passed out
Bringing a handler who's fallen a phone to call for help
Helping a handler stay balanced by sitting on his/her feet or standing between his/her legs for mobility support
Picking up milk cartons and other foodstuffs from the shelf and placing them into a grocery cart
Getting between a handler and a stranger as a precaution
For a further list of ADLs with which a task-trained service dog might assist, please visit http://www.iaadp.org/tasks.html
Do you train Service dogs for PTSD?
The quick answer here is no. That being said, many of our service dog handlers have secondary diagnoses of PTSD, and their dogs are able to provide support for PTSD signs and symptoms.
Where do you get the dogs you train?
We are proud that the majority of the dogs we train come from high-risk animal shelters. This is particularly meaningful since the training process gives new life to both the handler and the dog.
You say you rescue shelter dogs, so what about the poodles and doodles in the photos?
Since a certain percentage of our handlers require hypoallergenic service dogs, we have also been very grateful to Newpuppies4u, an ethical breeder out in Oklahoma. We are extremely grateful to Dave and Lisa for the way they love dogs and for the dogs they have donated to Freedom Fidos. You can learn more about their passion for dogs at http://www.newpuppies4u.com/.
My dog would be a good service dog. Can I pay you to train him/her for me?
Not at this point. Our mission is to rescue dogs from shelters.
Who can apply for a service dog?
Freedom Fidos provides task-trained service dogs to veterans, children with special needs, and first responders, with physical disabilities. We specialize in training service dogs for veterans with traumatic brain injuries.
If you feel you meet this criteria, please fill out an application. You will need medical documentation as evidence of your physical disability and a medical professional’s explanation of how a service dog can assist you and improve your daily activities of living.
How long is the waiting list?
Currently we have over 200 individuals on the waiting list.
Where are you located?
The closest city to our beautiful, four-acre facility is Columbus, GA. Should you be coming for a visit, Calloway Gardens, Warm Springs, and Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park are nearby attractions. We do not publish our street address online for the security of the dogs.
WHat is your facility like?
In November 2016, one of our officers generously financed a 4-acre plot of land which will be our facility. Located in Harris County, GA, this beautiful, peaceful, quiet, haven of rest for the dogs and veterans will eventually include not only a house but also a state-of-the-art kennel for the dogs-in-training and lodging for handlers-in-training to use while they are training at the facility. Once the additional funds are raised, the kennels will house sixteen dogs, include AC/ Heat, provide a room for training the dogs during inclement weather, and provide professional grooming stations.
How long does it take to train a service dog?
The average length of training is two years, which includes extensive bonding time between the dog and the handler.
How much does it cost to train a service dog?
The full cost of training a service dog of this calibre can range from $22,000-$28,000.
DO Service dogs still get to play and be dogs?
Yes! We say the dogs get four miles of exercise per day, and in reality, it's probably a lot more with all the wrestling, rolling, ball chasing, flying leaps, and tug-of-war games going on! They get to run and play to their hearts' extent when they are not on duty or in training. Come watch!
How is Freedom Fidos funded?
Freedom Fidos is funded entirely by private donations, 100% of which go directly towards the dogs, the organization, and the facility. No one associated with Freedom Fidos receives a salary.
How can My family, my business, My school, my group, etc, get involved?
Donations of specific gifts (list will be posted on the homepage)
Invite Freedom Fidos to come speak to a group or at an event
Any sort of fundraiser you'd like to organize
Get a group to come volunteer down at the facility - maintenance, yard work, dog grooming, exercising the dogs, and so much more!
Can kids volunteer?
Absolutely! We love to get kids passionate about community service and giving back as young as possible! Please contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about getting youth groups, Scout troops, schools, or just groups of dog-lovers together! Whether you're interested in making this a one-day visit, an overnight camping trip, an academic service project, or a project that comes to you, Jenny has plans designed for kids of all ages!
How much of my donation goes towards the dogs?
100%. No one at Freedom Fidos receives any sort of salary.
Are donations tax deductible?
Yes. We will be happy to provide you with tax receipts for any monetary or in-kind donations you make to the organization.
How many dogs have been trained thus far?
We have placed 36 dogs thus far.
What processes are in place to make sure the dog and handler continue involvement?
Each service dog handler is expected to comply with our monthly home checks, weekly check in, 3 month re-certification process, attend events with the organization, and be involved with the community, as well as other policies we have in place.
ARE YOUR SERVICE DOGS REALLY FREE?
We provide the dog, all training, as well as lifelong support, at no cost to the individual.
However, the services we provide are not free. Any veteran who receives our services already paid for them many times over due to the sacrifices they made and continue to make for our country.
After the selection criterion is met, any individual who chooses to receive our service will go through intensive training during which time they will be expected to invest themselves learning how to be a service dog handler with the same intensity that we will invest ourselves in them.
Freedom Fidos will expect full compliance and excellence in the way they represent the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act and continued engagement with Freedom Fidos.
"That's a pretty cool trick your dog does..."
While we hear this frequently, anything you see our dogs do is not a trick. It is either an example of a task we can teach the dog, or it is an actual task the dog already does in order to help its handler.
What are your training techniques?
Connection: We feel that this overcomes a great deal of training.
Motivation: We strive to learn what motivates each individual dog, whether that be treats, toys, praise, or tennis balls. Typically we find that a combination is what we end up using.
Marker training: usually a simple yes or no.
Repetition: doing the same thing every time.
De-sensitization: Because our dogs will be out in public as service dogs a great deal of de-sensitization is required. We start taking dogs to stores, restaurants, and other public locations as early as possible!
We do not use e-collars or clicker training.
We find that because of connection and enhancing the dogs individuality we end up with very driven dogs, who want so much to please and be praised!