This article is from 2006's Pet Guide package. The information may be out-of-date, so please call locations listed for new information.
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Linda Pybas's four-year-old golden retriever, Frankie, not only fetches balls but can retrieve papers, open doors, and remove a jacket. Frankie's a service dog.
Pybas, a quadriplegic since a diving accident in 1984, adopted Frankie from Fidos for Freedom (fidosforfreedom.org), an organization in Laurel that trains service and therapy dogs.
Pybas, who lives in Upper Marlboro and is a lawyer at the Federal Railroad Administration in DC, takes Frankie to work every day.
Frankie was trained for two years by Fidos for Freedom. Once Pybas was matched with Frankie, the two worked together at the Fidos facility for several months. Pybas brought Frankie home in October 2003.
Frankie sits still during meetings and is trained not to interact with passersby. He takes trips on the Metro in stride.
"He's been stepped on once or twice," Pybas says. "He's very patient."
When Pybas gives him the "free" command, Frankie plays with the family's other dog, a black Lab/rottweiler mix named William.
"He's such a big, lovable goof," Pybas says of Frankie.
Fidos for Freedom isn't the only area organization that trains service dogs. Blue Ridge Assistance Dogs in Manassas (blueridgeassistancedogs.org) and Service Dogs of Virginia (servicedogsofvirginia.org) also train and provide dogs for disabled people. Guiding Eyes for the Blind (guiding-eyes.org), in Yorktown Heights, New York, and the Seeing Eye, in Morristown, New Jersey (seeingeye.org), train and provide guide dogs for the blind.