Freedom Service Dogs graduate from training program ready to help

PARKER, Colo. -- Eight families now have some much-needed support, thanks to Freedom Service Dogs.

Eight service dogs graduated from their training classes Saturday morning and will now be with the families they serve full-time.

This includes Baja, a two-year-old Australian Shepard-Great Pyrenees mix, who helps 5-year-old Isaiah Meyer, who is on the autism spectrum.

"They’re night and day," said Isiah's mother Rachel, describing life with and without Baja. "It’s like having another adult in the house, almost.  They’ve bonded to the point where when [Isiah] is in timeout, Baja his sitting with him."

Brian Hicks helped train Baja and was able to attend the graduation and spend a few minutes with his old friend. They spent two months together earlier this year, when Brian helped teach Baja about 50 commands.

"Everything from just the basics of standard obedience, to teaching  him how to put his head in a harness, how to pick stuff up off the ground, how to be a canine good citizen," Hicks told FOX31.

And Hicks did all of that training while he was in the Sterling Correctional Facility for car theft and other charges.

"I’d been in and out of prison my whole life since I was 18 years old," Hicks said. "I’m 37 years old now.

"I never learned any job skills. I never cared.  As soon as I’d get out, I’d work, start messing up, go back to prison."

But Hicks said the dogs have turned his life around.

He's been out of prison since March and now trains dogs full-time -- some for veterans.

"They definitely changed my life," Hicks said. "This is the best I’ve ever done in my life. Dogs definitely have helped me out with that."

And now, the rescue dog that he helped is helping others.

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