Ty and Wrigley's Story

Posted on: in [ Placed Service Dog Teams ]

Placement | April 2021

We are thrilled to announce Wrigley's placement as a Veteran Service Dog! Wrigley has been working with a Veteran named Ty for several months. She assists him daily by performing numerous tasks to help mitigate his disability. Upon placement, Ty stated that a match with Wrigley was worth the wait, that she picked him, and they are truly perfect for each other. Thank you to all who helped Ty and Wrigley get to this point!! Check out Ty's Story and Wrigley's Journey below, and leave them a congratulatory comment!


Ty and Wrigley were featured on Chive Charities. Read their heroic story HERE:

Sponsor Announcement

I want to give a big thank you to the Prime Time Foundation and Judy Yanover, who generously participated in a Final Training Sponsorship, which helped advance me through the third and final stage of training and into placement. Without their help, I wouldn't be where I am today - helping my favorite Veteran Ty each and every day. Thank you, Judy and Prime Time Foundation!! 

Ty's Story

My name is Ty. I joined after graduating high school in 1987. I had always wanted to join the military because I wanted to serve my country and to get some training and be a part of something. I was active duty and in the reserves. I had a variety of jobs – I was in the Infantry, a truck driver, and a Petroleum Supply Specialist. I served 3 tours in Iraq, Desert Storm, OIF 2 and OIF 4.

I am married with two children, and we reside in Iowa. I retired from the military in 2016 after serving 29 years. One reason why I left the Army was physical ailments – my back and knees. I also suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and severe depression.

Since leaving the military, I find myself not leaving the house much. In the future I see being more active in public and in my personal life. By getting a service dog from Retrieving Freedom, I will feel more confident socializing, getting out into public more, and simply being a part of society again. I noticed I feel less anxious and more relaxed being around animals in general. My family and my church – Messiah Lutheran Church in – support me in going to Retrieving Freedom and getting a service dog. I always thought others were more deserving but others encouraged me apply. It took me a while to do so, but since I started coming up to Retrieving Freedom, I have started to become more confident. I always look forward to my visits to Retrieving Freedom and working with the service dogs in training.

Wrigley's Journey

Stage 1 Introduction

Hello, I am "Wrigley". I am proud to have been selected to enter into the Retrieving Freedom training program.  My parents are “Gracie” who is originally from Kerrybrook Labradors and is now fostered by the Ingersoll family, and "Olaf" from Ridgeview Labradors. During this stage of training I will be spending approximately 8 months with my new volunteer foster, Addie.

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

I attended my first puppy class this month! I have been settling well into my foster home with Addie. I'm working on learning my name, potty training, and crate training!

January 2019 - 3 months old


I attended my first basketball game and, as expected, I did awesome! Loud noises don’t seem to bother me at all.

May 2019 - 7 months old

I took some photos with my foster Addie and my littermates and our momma on the University of Northern Iowa's campus before we all head in separate directions for the summer.

June 2019 - 8 months old


I was able to attended the open house for the new Cedar Falls Public Safety building. This very nice police officer there who gave us an awesome tour, I was a very good girl.

July 2019 - 9 months old

Here I am, hanging out at "Wrigley" Field. I wonder where they came up with that name? I did great with Addie throughout her trip to Chicago!

August 2019 - 10 months old

I'm nearing my first birthday! This is bittersweet. I'm excited to continue on in my training but I know that means my time with Addie is quickly coming to an end. I want to give her a big thank you for all she's done for me throughout my training! In this next phase, I will be heading to the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF) to work on specific commands with an inmate handler.

October 2019 - 1 year old!

I celebrated my first birthday this month! My handler at CMCF and I celebrated with extra snuggles and a special treat.

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. During this Stage, I will 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! 

December 2019 - 14 months old

Here I am spending a weekend with my foster family after just returning from the Mississippi correctional facility. I am happy to be back with familiar faces!

January 2020 - 15 months old

For the next few months, I will be spending a lot of quality time with this lady right here! She is my partnered Wartburg College student. Through this impact program, we will be able to learn from each other. She'll teach me tasks alongside RFI trainers, and I'll teach her patience!

March 2020 - 17 months old


My time with my Wartburg student has come to an end early due to a global pandemic. The training facility at RFI has turned to staff-only, so I'm soaking up lots of extra training (and playing!) time with my trainers. My training buddy Bentley decided it would be much more fun to perform the "place" command with a friend - so he jumped onto my place board with me! We are happy as can be. 

April 2020 - 18 months old


We still aren't able to go into public due to the quarantine, so I've been doing extra training and playing at the RFI facility. The weather is starting to get warmer - one of my favorite things ever is playing fetch outside!

July 2020 - 21 months old


I've been expanding my horizons with training lately! I'm gaining confidence by "placing" on these colorful peanuts. They help me work on balance, gain muscle, and focus. The wobble board teaches me not to be afraid of loud noises or the 'floor' moving beneath me.

August 2020 - 22 months old


I had an amazing weekend with a weekend foster named Alyssa! She took me all around to help integrate back into public work. It's been a long few months in quarantine! I did great, and am looking forward to hopefully advancing to stage 3 of training soon!

September 2020 - 23 months old


My weekend foster Charlotte took me to visit my momma, Gracie, and breeding foster Cheryl! It was great to see them again. I still enjoy daily play sessions with my best friends, Finley and Boo.

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.

October 2020 - 2 years old!


I celebrated my second birthday this month. I'm very close to transitioning into the third stage of training, where I'll begin meeting with hopeful recipients to find my fur-ever person.

November 2020


I've been spending a lot of time with my trainer lately, preparing for my career as a service dog. My path has changed a little bit, but I'm up for the challenge! One of my favorite tasks I've been working on is retrieving, holding, and delivering items to my handler. I was lucky to go home with a wonderful weekend foster for Thanksgiving!

December 2020

I continue to work with a few specific clients, and love spending time with each of them! I'm an easy girl to get along with, and I was born to work. This makes it fairly easy to get into work-mode and perform tasks that are asked of me when clients come by the facility!

January 2021 

I have been working consistently with a Veteran and am looking forward to our first home visit soon!

February 2021


I get so excited when my Veteran comes to visit!

March 2021


This month I was able to do my first home visit with my Veteran. I had so much fun hanging out and helping him at his home! I love snuggling with Hannah, a kennel technician who I've grown close to over the last several months. We are sad to say goodbye soon, but know it's for a great reason!