I shared my story about Piper and our car crash at beginning of a training workshop for Your Dog's Friend (more on them in another article), and waited outside in the lobby to answer any questions afterwards. A woman named Cara approached me and we got to talking about her dog, service dogs, and the organization she works with, Fidos for Freedom.
I realized right away I was talking to someone who really cared about not only the safety of her dog, but all dogs in general. And in fact, it seems that everyone at Fidos is the same way. They're just good people all around, and I can't help but want to work with people who have kind hearts.
Fidos for Freedom trains puppies into service dogs for people with disabilities so they can lead independent lives. The dogs go through a plethora of training to help individuals with tasks such as standing up, taking off clothing, doing the laundry, alerting to sounds, opening doors, and so much more. Things that can easily be taken for granted.
The puppies come all the way from North Carolina to Maryland at 8 weeks old and live with a "Puppy Raiser" to learn how to be a good puppy, working on basic manners and commands. Then they're off to work with trainers in a "Prison Program" for the next level of skills. Next, the dogs come back to Fidos and do even more training, and are matched with a person waiting for a service dog. The person and dog work together to ensure a good fit. After some time, the dog is released from the Fidos' training program and officially becomes a service dog!
The nice thing is that everyone works together at Fidos. It's like a big family there. You know that saying "Teamwork makes the dreamwork?" They help each other out, and really ensure that the dog has every opportunity to be successful. That the people are matched with the right dog to be a partner for life.
Here's an example of what a service dog can do for someone:
Fidos for Freedom captured my full attention because of their commitment to getting their dogs buckled up in certified seatbelts. They've hosted a couple webinars with Dogs Ride Certified already, because they want to continually get the message out to everyone in their group.
Cara had a non-certified seatbelt for her dog Caesar, but after learning about the dangers of the one she had, she replaced it with a Sleepypod Terrain harness. Several others followed her lead.
It's so important to keep the puppies safe in the car. These service puppies-in-training are constantly out and about with their trainers. Plus, they're sponges for learning at this stage, creating habits to carry on for the rest of their lives. It's the perfect (and crucial) time to learn how to ride all buckled up in the car.
You never want to be in a car crash, let alone in one with your dog. Or even slam on the brakes with him/her sliding around the back seat. With service puppies, not only are their lives at risk every time they ride in the car, but there's also a person depending on that dog to become his/her partner. That person needs a dog's support to perform every day tasks.
Imagine if you needed help to turn on the lights, open the fridge, reach for your coat, or get out of your chair. Imagine if the only thing preventing you from being able to do those things on your own, was the help of a service dog. It's pretty amazing what dogs can do.
If an unrestrained or improperly restrained puppy is in a crash, the pup could be lost, injured or killed. If the dog survives, there's a good chance of trauma, and training would be delayed, which delays help for a person in need.
Now what if the puppy is buckled up in a certified seatbelt, and leaves the accident unfazed and unharmed? Training continues and everything in on track. And everyone is safe.
The goal is for the service puppies in training to receive a small Sleepypod Terrain, so not only can they be protected in the car, but as the puppies outgrow them, the harnesses can be used again for the next round of little ones. It's an everlasting gift. When the puppies leave the breeder in North Carolina and come to Fidos in Maryland, they can be buckled up from the get-go.
So how is this happening? Well $5 from every seatbelt purchase is going to the Fidos Puppy Seatbelt Fund so all the puppies can get buckled up. The goal is $400. We only need $170 more.
If your dog isn't buckled up yet, why not? Click below to grab your seatbelt today.
If you already have a certified seatbelt and would like to help the puppies, just click below to donate to the Fidos Puppy Seatbelt Fund. Thank you for your generosity!