Joy Freedman

As TRU Rescue was forming several years ago, we sought guidance from our dear friend, Joy Freedman.  Joy had a vast knowledge of dog training and canine behavior.   Her understanding of the internal workings of a shelter and her knowledge of animal welfare laws were insightful.  This helped her educate dog owners to have successful and long-term relationships with their dogs. Joy was generous with her time and was always happy to share her knowledge.  Her support to us, in the beginning, was invaluable. She had a powerful influence on us as she helped educate fosters and adopters and guide our administrators.


She was instrumental in pairing many of our rescue dogs with their forever families. Joy readily educated new owners and trained their new dogs, so their partnership endured and thrived.  There is no doubt that so many of our dogs are happy in their forever homes because Joy was able to help dog owners understand and direct their behavior positively. Both dogs and their humans benefited from Joy’s uncanny intuition, her kindness, and her honesty. Joy had the wonderful gift of making those she loved to feel seen.


Joy poured her love into the TRU puppies she personally cared for, into families she connected with rescue dogs, and into supporting new dog owners with her vast knowledge. We are certain many hundreds of dogs are alive and safe because of Joy’s efforts. Those canine companions helped through Joy’s efforts have, in turn, enriched the families who adopted them.  TRU Rescue has achieved a level of success and commitment to excellence due to Joy’s guidance with policy-making and navigating challenging decisions. 


Joy championed many causes and was a powerful advocate for so many people and dogs. We are endlessly grateful for Joy’s fierce passion for helping dogs become successful family members. As we learned from Joy, education and training are what support a successful dog/human partnership. What a blessing it was for TRU families to be able to turn to Joy for excellent, practical training!


Our hearts, my heart, are forever touched by Joy. We will miss her kindness, passion, and honesty.   We will miss her support, her good humor, and her quick wit. We will move forward in rescue upholding her integrity and her determination. I send prayers to her precious family that she adored.

Chris Williams
Founder, Executive Director
They Rescue Us, Inc.
TRU Rescue

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These words from a TRU Rescue adopter – Shelley Caplan – who has her special Prince (a great Pyrenees) because of Joy, ring true for many of us.

“It’s next-to-impossible to process the fact that such an incredibly vibrant light in this often dark world would be snuffed out. Joy had been battling stage 3 colon cancer with unimaginable strength and positivity since her diagnosis at age 47 in 2015, and she worked to raise awareness of the dire need for earlier colonoscopies. You might have heard the news recently that the official screening recommendation dropped from age 50 to 45. If only that had happened years ago…

What I can say with ease is that every single life Joy touched — whether human or animal — was better for knowing her. Joy did so much for so many, and did so selflessly and with monumental compassion.

She ran her own company, 4Paws Pet Services, and was a well-respected, certified dog behaviorist and trainer. Joy vetted and networked with responsible dog rescue organizations everywhere and helped friends and countless others find and adopt the perfect dog in need of a “furever” family. She is the one who matched me with the precious gift of Prince, my Great Pyrenees, rescued in 2019 from TX by an organization she vouched for, TRU Rescue.

Joy wrote guest columns in J-More magazine and shared her expertise in Baltimore magazine, Baltimore Style magazine, and on local TV and radio. She taught classes on canine training in Rehoboth and at Anne Arundel Community College, spoke at pet fairs, and advocated for sorely needed reform of the Baltimore County Animal Shelter in 2015.

She was instrumental in getting Oscar’s Law passed unanimously by the Baltimore County Council. The bill makes it illegal to leave pets outside in extreme weather conditions (below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees). It also enables animal control officers or police to enter any property if there is a probability of animal abuse.

In recent years, Joy served as a tireless advocate for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance and spoke at conferences for patients and health care providers across the country. Every single person who had the good fortune of meeting her learned firsthand what a genuinely warm, caring, strong, selfless (and funny!) person she was.

Joy’s vibrance was palpable. Her energy could be felt in any room she entered, and her innate sense of humor made even the toughest curmudgeon smile and laugh in her presence.
She had an uncanny ability to read people and understand the motivations behind their behaviors — perhaps from her years studying dogs (it’s a well-known fact that dog training, in reality, is far more about training the owners).
No matter the situation, I was always blown away by her capacity to instantly get right to the heart of any problem and offer effective solutions.

Somehow, many of us in her inner circle thought that cancer stood no chance when up against her herculean strength and determination, her positivity, and generosity, the love and devotion of her wife Lisa, her son Cole, her former partner (who remained one of her very best friends) Jocelyn, and prayers and good juju sent up from her hundreds upon hundreds of lives she improved. She had a top-notch Johns Hopkins medical team, but stage 3 colon cancer knows no boundaries. It is CRUEL and insidious, an unrelenting barbarian. Life is excruciatingly unfair.

All I can do now is hope that even some of the good Joy put out into this world will have a ripple effect, and that her beautiful soul will rest in peace. Memories of this treasure of a human being will forever be a blessing to all who had the good fortune of knowing her.

If I could tell Joy one last thing, it would be this:
You made a difference!