Freedom Fidos created in June 2014
Sometimes we need reminding of the gifts from our four-legged friends as in honor, love, loyalty, friendship, and intelligence. They bring so much into our lives. And in those precious moments when we become mindful of our truest source for unconditional love. We use those times to offer thanks.
I got a rare opportunity to come face to face with people who are giving to our world a gift that will last for generations. The awesomeness of this gift is that it serves those of us with challenges. Freedom Fidos founder Matt Burgess and Kristine Duncan and their amazing all-volunteer team love and train canine heroes. Sheltered only dogs learn better what they know best, to serve those that need them the most. And what a wonderful story doesn’t begin without a wonderful dog?
His name is Brinks.
To relate tales of Brinks would be a retelling of wonder dog stories created by Hollywood scriptwriters. I met up with Brinks and his partners Oakley, Matt, and Kristine at an outdoor restaurant on a hot Columbus Georgia summer’s eve.
I listened to Matt’s story of his military heroism in service to our country and later journeys to rehabilitation. During the telling, he and Kristine shared details of their life’s purpose. And then we came to the part of the story where they told of how Brinks became the impetus for their dream.
This was how Freedom Fidos came into being
Matt and Kristine shared what mattered most, the centerpiece of their lives, Freedom Fidos. Recovering from a bomb explosion during his last stint in Afghanistan, Matt retired from his beloved army. Shortly after he also lost his pet of 15 years. His path to finding a new canine friend led him to a dog shelter in Athens, Georgia. The puppy who later became Brinks introduced himself.
Like all high energy pups with above average intelligence, he was high maintenance. This prompted Matt to learn about dog training. Their life’s journey was just the beginning. A life-saving thread weaved from love and devotion bonded Brinks and Matt.
After many times, where Brinks saved Matt’s life, Matt discovered that he and Brinks have a new mission… their truest life purpose. Freedom Fidos would bring the gifts of love and independence to disabled military vets and others with physical and psychological challenges. They deserved their own devoted service canines just like Brinks. And the dedicated volunteers and donors make sure that sheltered dogs find a forever home. This helps disabled vets to receive the much needful companionship of service dogs at no cost.
So focused on Matt and Kristin’s stories of how Freedom Fidos came to be I was unaware of a warm body lying on my feet. Looking under the table, I found Brinks curled and napping. Sometimes we forget about the unbroken bonds with our furry partners. But they’re always there to remind.
Matt Burgess continues to serve bravely our country.
I could write on the sound economics of Matt’s repurposing of resources, both human and canine. And there’s a story of the many people that have given precious time to ensure that Matt and Brinks realize their priceless dream. But do we quantify the repairs deep to the broken soul?
Teaming with pet shelters and becoming the constant dog trainer, Matt Burgess is still serving his country. As a not-for-profit organization. Freedom Fidos gives freedom and independence to fellow vets who’ve served bravely and need the warmth and love of a constant friend.
The brightest element in this story is the soldier Matt Burgess. His bravery continues in helping fellow vets and those lives needful of a smart canine friend.
We’re looking forward to adding our voices to the many others that are spreading Freedom Fidos message to the world.
“I had a great support system, but something was missing,” he said. “Once I got Brinks as my service dog, that final slice was given to me. That’s what a lot of veterans and people with disabilities are going through right now.”–Matt Burgess