Fidos For Freedom is a nonprofit
organization based in Laurel Maryland. Fidos has been training service dogs for
25 years. We train the service dogs for hearing impairments and mobility issues.
Fidos dogs can do anything from a hearing dog waking you up in the morning
to a service dog turning the light off at night. For the first two or two and a
half years of a Fidos dog’s life they are all trained the same way. They
are raised by a puppy raiser in their home where there are taught basic obedience.
Joanne: We get to be very good friends with the clients and we learn
what a tremendous asset the dogs have made in their lives. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be the puppy I raised, but we’ll just sit around and
talk to the clients and I’ll say, “So how has this dog … What has this dog [done to] change your life?” And almost all of them say it just allows me to be more independent.
Narrator: When they’re about a year old the puppies go to Cumberland men’s prison to
be taught advanced obedience and start learning service skills. They stay there
for about six months. When the puppies come back from the prison they live with
the trainer. They work on refining their skills while they work towards being
matched with a client. The next stage of training is where the clients and the
dogs start working together for the first time. The clients and the dogs work
in different combinations while the trainer’s try and find the best match.
Trainer: Alright guys we’re going do what we call tandem. Pick a partner and you’ll walk
side by side and do various commands that I tell you. So the idea here is
whatever person you’re walking side by side with, you keep the same pace with.
Don’t get ahead of, don’t get behind. Pick a partner. Dogs on the left, wall on the left. And forward. Two people. Together.
Narrator: Once the trainers match a client and a dog, they begin working on the specific skills they will
need in their partnership. They do this both in their home and out in public Mark: My name is Mark Rodens and this is Mia. We’ve been matched for about a month and I’ve
been doing the Fidos program for about a year. She helps me with opening doors
and getting things off of the floor. For example if I drop my my wallet… A lot of
times drops… and she’ll help with that and my keys, she’ll help get my keys. And
she’s also a very good companion for me and I enjoy being around and I enjoy
Fidos. It like a family there and it’s also very… It relieves stress for
the day because I can just go there and be with the dogs.
Narrator: Once the client and their dog finished their one-on-one training their real-world partnership
begins. There they put into practice what they’ve learned in class.
Debbie: Jacob has important jobs like waking me up to the alarm clock in the morning. Otherwise I’d be late for work every day. He lets me know when I drop items ’cause I don’t hear them hit the ground like people normally would. So Jacob’s always on the watch for that. We’ll be walking down the street… We’re not gonna go far here. Let’s go. Heel. (drops something) What is it? Oh, thank you! Good boy! Very nice! OK, over here and heel. Jacob
explains to get paid for what Jacob does. Narrator: We also have a therapy dog program that
works out in the community. These dogs belong to people who volunteer their
time in nursing homes, hospitals and schools. So I definitely recommend people coming to Fidos. I talk to people all the time with different disabilities
or different abilities to try and come in and get a dog because it does make
life so much easier. It makes you more able to get out and do things and
and not be worried about things that you might miss or or any of that stuff. Your
dog just… They put you back out there so much and make you so much more part of society