CBS4 News is featuring a special series of reports this holiday season called the 12 Days of Christmas. The following story is reported on by CBS4’s Britt Moreno.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – A Denver-area organization that rescues dogs from shelters also works to rescue people from some of life’s challenges.
One of those people Freedom Service Dogs Of America is helping is Randall, a veteran of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Randall survived the battlefield in his five year deployment, but it’s battling the conflict within that he says has nearly destroyed him.
Randall has struggled with post-traumatic stress syndrome for nearly a decade. Another veteran introduced him to Englewood-based Freedom Service Dogs Of America. People at the organization train dogs how to provide physical and emotional support for veterans and people with disabilities.
The dogs are picked from shelters across various states and are put into training for seven to nine months.
Dog trainer Briana Ore says they initially look for dogs who are eager to please.
“You can’t help but smile if you get to work with dogs all day long,” Ore said.
Volunteers help train the dogs in classes. Trainers also coach people how to interact with the dogs.
Freedom Service Dogs Of America wound up partnering Randall with a dog named Fresca.
“I was weak and needed help, and Freedom Service Dogs did not judge me, did not cast me aside,” Randall said of his experience with the group.
“(Fresca) is already combating that depression, isolationist mentality that I’ve fallen into,” he told CBS4.
Since then he has found a renewed sense of hope.
“I’m much more happy than I have been,” Randall said.
Trainers say Fresca is quite intelligent. She can wake Randall from a nightmare, and she can provide him with support if he starts to have trouble coping with things in a public place.
“She’s a rock that I can lean on when I have a hard time standing for myself,” he said.
After losing friends in battle and witnessing unspeakable things abroad, Randall says Fresca has restored his faith in himself and others.
Ore says that for Freedom Service Dogs Of America, donations “are our life blood.” Donations can be made at freedomservicedogs.org/donate/.