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Jami and Leonard's Story

Posted on: in [ Placed Service Dog Teams ]

Placement | June 2021

We are thrilled to announce the placement of Leonard as a Veteran Service Dog with his favorite human, Jami! Jami and Leonard have been working together for several months, perfecting their tasks and ensuring their bond is stronger than ever. They recently passed all necessary testing and are officially a Retrieving Freedom Service Dog Team! We are so proud of all they've already accomplished and can't wait to see what else they will conquer together.

     

Sponsor Announcement

Many thanks to Judy Yanover and the Prime Time Foundation for their Final Training Sponsorship, which helped Leonard through the last leg of his training. With their assistance, he made a successful placement with Jami as a Veteran Service Dog. Thank you for your support, Judy and everyone at the Prime Time Foundation!

Leonard's Journey

Stage 1 Introduction

Hello, I am Leonard! I am proud to have been selected to enter into the Retrieving Freedom training program.  My parents are “Gracie” who is fostered by the Ingersoll family, and "Olaf" of RidgeView Labradors. I received my name from the winner of a raffle at a fundraiser in Sheffield - thanks, Amy! During this stage of training I will be spending approximately 8 months with my new volunteer foster, Sophie.

Throughout Stage 1, I will learn the basics obedience, public behavior, and a lot of socialization. I understand that it takes a very special dog to complete the program as there is a high standard to become a Service Dog. I am aware that I may be one of the dogs whose purpose is outside of service work so I will be updating my profile on a monthly basis for all that would like to follow my journey through the program. 

December 2018 - 2 months old 

This month I was able to begin bonding with Sophie, my full-time foster. She is teaching me my name, where to go potty (and where not to go potty), and how to walk on a leash. Soon I will begin working on tasks such as "sit," and "down." 

January 2019 - 3 months old
 
Starting a new semester is exhausting, luckily I just get to sleep through class!
 
February 2019 - 4 months old

 

Sophie keeps my feet warm by having me wear these little booties when we walk across campus. These also protect my paw pads from the ice melt! I wasn't too sure about them at first, but eventually I got used to them and am so thankful!

April 2019 - 6 months old
 
With Easter I got to go to church and family dinner. I had a blast but definitely needed a nap after all the festivities. I am maturing a lot right now. I have lost most of my puppy teeth and am picking up on new commands quickly.
 
May 2019 - 7 months old

  

Sophie's semester at the University of Northern Iowa has come to an end. Time to see all of the things we can learn together this summer! 


June 2019 - 8 months old
 
We went on a trip to Eldridge this month and I got to stop and see the world's largest truck stop! I am a good traveler, and experiencing trips such as these teach me how to be patient and ignore strangers and their distractions. 
 
July 2019 - 9 months old 

 

Fourth of July fireworks didn't phase me in the least. 

August 2019 - 10 months old 

 
Meet my little sister Marvel! I have the opportunity for the next few months to teach Marvel everything I've learned with Sophie so far. Sophie will be fostering Marvel full-time after I head back to Stage 2 training. Sophie and I are both aware our time together is coming to an end soon, but for a good reason.

Stage 2 Introduction

Wahoo!!!  I have officially been entered into Stage 2 training, and I am so excited!  Over the past 8 months I have had the opportunity to see the RFI mission first hand, and can’t wait to dig deeper in the mission of changing lives through my training for veterans with disabilities and children with autism.  This training stage will be another 8 months of working within the Retrieving Freedom Impact programs, and I will also work closely with the RFI professional training staff to solidify my understanding of intermediate tasks and the foundation of future commands to help mitigate a disability.  Follow me through this stage learning how I continue to make an impact! 

September 2019 - 11 months old

I got to join my friends at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF). This will provide a great opportunity to work one-on-one with a handler who has 24 hours per day to train with me. I'm excited to advance my task training! Two of my littermates, Wrigley and Buster, also traveled to CMCF with me.

December 2019 - 14 months old

I have returned to the Iowa training facility from CMCF! I learned a lot in my short few months there, and am looking forward to what comes next in my training!

January 2020 - 15 months old

I will be spending the next few months with my Wartburg College student! We will work on basic obedience and training in public, all alongside RFI trainers. I'm excited to see what we can accomplish together!

March 2020 - 17 months old

My time with my Wartburg student was cut short due to a global pandemic. RFI closed their doors to the public. This allows us service dogs in training lots of extra time one-on-one with our trainers to work on tasks. We also get long play sessions after working sessions! Here I am pictured with Jasper and Bentley after a play session.

April 2020 - 18 months old

 

We had a short photoshoot this month with some of my friends in training! I am right at the front of this photo.

Stage 3 Introduction

Over the last year and a half I have been working diligently to get to this part of training... Stage 3! During this stage I will begin to meet potential recipients, learn final training tasks, finish up my role in the impact programs, and complete the 100 required one-on-one hours with my future recipient. This stage is a 4 to 6 month process, and I understand there is still a chance that I might not complete the program due to health or performance. I'm looking forward to sharing with you about my first visits with potential recipients, trips into public, and other highlights throughout my final stage of training.

July 2020 - 21 months old

   

This month I attended a presentation with a RFI staff member. I was perfectly behaved! I performed all of my commands and kept my attention on her.

August 2020 - 22 months old

 

I have begun going home with a veteran recently! I am working on finding the right match, so I'm doing trial runs with various veterans. This means I'm getting close to placement! I continue to work with veterans in order to find the perfect match!

September 2020 - 23 months old

Just hanging out with my buddy Nobel!

October 2020 - 2 years old!

     

I celebrated my second birthday this month. My days lately consist of finalizing tasks and working with various clients in order to find the perfect match!

November 2020

 

I love working! It's so fun to meet different clients and to be able to confidently provide what they're looking for in a service animal. My trainer is working on identifying the perfect match for me. In the meantime, we keep my training interesting and fun! 

December 2020 

  

I'm having fun over the holidays with a new weekend foster! They have two Corgis that I have become friends with. When I'm not working with my vest on, it's important that I take time each day to play and relax.

January 2021

   

I love working with fosters! These photos are from a foster training class, where I worked with a volunteer named Kala. 

February 2021

 

Playing outside, no matter the weather, is my absolute favorite thing to do. This means I give my handlers a hard time coming back when they call my name. We have been working hard on my recall and being rewarded when I come back to them after my name is called, which I'm showing improvement on! I continue to have great eye contact with whoever is handling me.

March 2021

     

Between sessions working directly with clients, I continue to solidify the tasks I know such as retrieving various items and pushing doors closed. I'm such a sweet, gentle boy.

April 2021
           

When I'm not busy working with my trainer or future recipient, I enjoy daily outdoor play sessions with other service dogs in training! I am a great dog for first-time fosters to train with, as I show perfect behavior when working in public.

May 2021

     

I have been consistently working with one veteran. I love when they come to visit me! We work together in public and at the training facility. We had our first overnight together and are both looking forward to more bonding time!

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