Applicants Must Meet The Following Requirements:
- Live within 75 mile radius of Laurel, MD.
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be able to physically, financially and emotionally meet the needs of one of these very special dogs.
- Provide the dog with ample opportunity to perform the skills it has been trained to do.
- Request an application by calling 410-880-4178 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Send request to your doctor for a copy of your current medical records.
- Return application with your application fee.
- If approved, you will be asked to come to the Fidos Training Center for an interview.
- Provide Fidos For Freedom, Inc. with a list of three people as personal references.
- A second interview will be conducted in your home.
- If approved, you will be invited to begin observing and participating in Wednesday evening and Saturday morning training sessions.
- Permission from your place of employment regarding access for your dog and another medical evaluation may be requested.
Successful Completion Of The Application Process Is Just The Beginning:
Being partnered with an assistance dog will give you the ability to do many things with a lot less effort. However, having a special helpmate is a lot of responsibility. Before you receive a dog, you are required to complete 120 hours of training during which time you will learn how to work with and take care of the dog that has been matched with you. Our trainers will work one-on-one with you to custom train a dog to meet your specific needs. This training will occur over the course of many months.
Fidos For Freedom, Inc. will provide you with a well-trained assistant and all of the equipment your dog will need to perform its duties in return for a minimal administration fee. The year that immediately follows your dog going home with you, is considered to be a probationary period. During this time you will be required to continue to attend training classes at least twice a month at the Fidos Training Center. Upon successful completion of this probationary period ownership of the dog will be turned over to you.
We Really Care
Our support doesn’t end when we place a dog with you! For as along as you are partnered with your dog, our trainers, volunteers, and clients will be there to help your team succeed. Our support is provided in many ways:
Client Support Meetings
The client support meeting takes place after the Saturday trainings at the Fidos For Freedom, Inc. training center and occur approximately once per quarter. The Director of Client Services often invites special speakers and topics may include basic grooming, exercising your assistance dog, access issues, family support, holistic veterinary health, canine CPR, and much more. These important meetings provide a way to learn new information about our important canine partners in an informal atmosphere.
Weekly Training Classes
Clients are offered two weekly training classes. These classes are offered on Wednesday evenings from 7:30-8:30 PM and Saturday from 11 AM – 12 noon. Training classes are located at the training center in Laurel. After the Saturday training, an informal chat is offered immediately at the close of class on the training room floor. This valuable 30 minute chat is facilitated by the training staff.
Topics include discussion of any problems current clients may have encountered so that all clients may benefit from discussion and possible solutions to these problems. Other topics may include upcoming field trips, flying with your partner, reminders about seasonal warnings (e.g., heat exhaustion, cold/ice, flea/tick season), safety around water, upcoming vet clinics, and much more. Clients also may ask questions about things they are learning about their own partnership and receive advice from both trainers and other clients. Clients in training have opportunities to ask questions about the training or other issues of concern.
After match, each client has a designated trainer upon whom they may call with questions or concerns. Clients may consult via telephone, email, and many times with text (for those clients that may not hear well on the telephone). Our supportive trainers will do all they can to respond in a timely manner and may suggest follow-up, face-to-face meetings in order to demonstrate specific suggestions and instructions in the training process. Our trainers are available to the team for the life of partnership.
The annual banquet is a time of celebration and occurs in late Spring. All clients, family, and friends of Fidos For Freedom, Inc., are invited to attend. The banquet is also a graduation for matched teams who have completed their probationary year. Annual banquets include awarding of capes to new therapy dog teams, as well as recognition of various volunteers and programs integral to the current year’s success at Fidos For Freedom, Inc.
Although annual certification is not required under the ADA, Fidos For Freedom, Inc., offers annual certification to clients. Testing the dogs annually allows the client and trainers to observe and determine if their canine partner is maintaining skills outlined under ADI (Assistance Dogs International: http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/). Fidos For Freedom, Inc., is a proud member of ADI. Clients not yet matched often “shadow” a current team on certification day so that they can observe the various aspects of the service dog and hearing dog testing. Annual certification has been a source of pride for our clients as they receive a current certification tag and the peace of mind that their partner remains confident in the skills and tasks they perform for them. Annual certification occurs in early May of each year.