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Excellence in all we do <br> Airman, open-heart surgery survivor wins accolades at hobby

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Adrienne Freyer, show dog owner, trainer and breeder, and her Champion Kyllburg, Chaos, were honored as best of breed and best bred by owner Dec. 2 during the 2007 American Kennel Club/ Eukanuba National Invitational Dog Show in Long Beach, Calif.

Mrs. Freyer, a master sergeant in the Air Force and superintendent of the 28th Bomb Wing Plans and Evaluations Office, is no stranger to the Air Force core value of excellence in all we do and has a career peppered with accolades throughout to prove it, but her passion to serve her country is shared with a passion for working with animals.

"I started showing dogs when I was 12," Sergeant Freyer said. "As far as show quality, they weren't very good, but I learned a lot."

The lessons learned equates to excellence; she is now an owner of 13 dogs total (three Vizslas [two adults and one puppy]; nine Komondors and a Siberian Husky), of which, all of the adults are AKC champions. With such an extensive hobby, Sergeant Freyer's love of breeding, training and showing dogs is a family affair.

"I love dogs myself, and when Adrienne (Sergeant Freyer) was growing up we had a bit of a zoo - we had dogs, cats and gerbils," said Edna Kunz, Sergeant Freyer's mother, who moved in 2001 to help care for the then seven dogs Sergeant Freyer and her husband, Alan, had accumulated. "Adrienne was always kindly to dogs and seemed to know what to do. Maybe I over did it by reading all of those animal books to her instead of the 'Mary had a ball. Mary had a red ball' like books when she was young," Mrs. Kunz said with a smile.

For Sergeant Freyer, her love of animals proved more than just a hobby, but a significant contributing factor to her recovery process.

December 7, 2006, Sergeant Freyer underwent open-heart surgery. Complications from the first surgery saw Sergeant Freyer back in the hospital for her second open-heart surgery March 30, 2007. After a series of events including going into adult respiratory distress or lung shock, requiring a Ross procedure (a means of valvular replacement for the aortic valve), having her oxygen levels drop to the 70s (being in the 90s is normal) and needing 10 ml of oxygen a minute, being the sickest person in the intensive-care unit for four days and being in a coma with a ventilator for 12 days, Sergeant Freyer was finally discharged from the hospital in mid-April.

"I don't remember much during the most crucial parts of my hospitalization, and some of the medications made me hallucinate, but I remember my husband Alan being there for me and helping me keep things straight in my head," Sergeant Freyer said. "One of my recurring hallucinations was that one of my Vizslas would crawl from under my bed and wag her tail and make me smile."

Although her struggle back to health was a tough one, her family and dogs helped make it a speedy one. The National Institute of Health and the Center for Disease control, both taut the health benefits of being a pet owner, but Sergeant Freyer helped bring life to the studies and speculation.

"Our dogs are like, children - they are not a replacement for children, but, although I knew they were being taken care of, I felt needed and wanted to get back to them," Sergeant Freyer said.

With the help and support from her husband, Alan, Sergeant Freyer did her first post-operation show in June. During that show, Chaos won best in breed and Nyx, Chaos' daughter, completed her championship.

"During that first show I had to stop every few hours and my husband helped a lot - he did all the heavy lifting and made me take breaks," Sergeant Freyer said.

Although she continues to ascribe to the Air Force core values and not only strives in for excellence, but lives integrity first and service before self, she has learned valuable lessons through this ordeal.

"I've learned to worry less and don't stress about anything - it's not worth it," Sergeant Freyer said. If you do your best and stick to the core values, worry and stress really aren't necessary.