Savannah and Liberty: A high school student and service dog in training

Savannah and Liberty: A high school student and service dog in training (KTUL)

High school, four years of crowded hallways, 20-minute lunches, and days spent juggling homework and shuffling between classes, but for 15-year-old Savannah Oestreich, there’s another special assignment for her to work on, but this time, she’s the one doing the teaching.

Two-year-old Liberty is sassy, sweet and a service dog in training. On top of all her school work and activities, Savannah is teaching Liberty how to become a service dog.

“Sometimes, it’s really chaotic, I’m not going to lie,” laughed Savannah. “She does not like being stopped, so if there’s a traffic jam, she gets a little upset and wants to get past everyone.”

Liberty and Savannah are part of a non-profit called “Therapetics,” a charity that takes volunteers, like Savannah, and pairs them up with service dogs in training.

It’s not easy; the dogs have to go through weekly training sessions as well as be with their trainers 24/7.

Once the dogs have gone through the two-year process, they are given to someone who needs a service dog free of charge.

For Liberty, being a service dog is a family tradition. We first met her brother, Jonsey, last September. Jonsey was paired up with Terry Hill, an Army MedEvac pilot who found himself struggling when he came back from serving in the United States Army. Since becoming a team, Hill has a whole new chance at life, thanks to his service dog Jonsey.

“Jonsey, he saved my life, without a shadow of a doubt,” said Hill, back in Sept.

Savannah and Hill have connected through the charity and their dogs.

“Liberty’s brother, his owner helicopter pilot so that’s how we got started talking,” said Savannah.

It’s not just their dogs that Savannah and Hill have in common, but careers.

She’s just a sophomore, but Savannah already knows what she wants to do: become an Army MedEvac pilot just like Hill.

“I would call Terry a hero,” said Savannah. “I mean, being noble for me, I guess to train Liberty for someone, I guess that’s also a hero.”

A hero, whose job is almost finished. Liberty will be leaving soon. She’s about to be placed with a person in a wheelchair.

But fortunately, Liberty has a permanent place at Savannah’s side, right next to her in their high school yearbook.

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