Feb 082018
The Foundation for Service Dog Support

It is with deep sorrow that we share the news of the untimely death of one of our recent graduates, Gilbert Samuel Webb III (“Sam”).  Sam received his SD Doug from our training program in July 2017.  He passed peacefully in his sleep on Friday, Feb. 2nd.

His widow, Brenda, has shared the following:

Gilbert Samuel Webb, III of Shawnee, KS passed away peacefully in his sleep on February 2nd 2018. Sam was born August 25th 1960 in Mount Ayr, Iowa to Gilbert and Norma (Baker) Webb. He was married to Brenda Hargenrader on June 6th, 1981 in Adel, IA and they moved to Cedar Falls, IA in June of 1982 where he began his career as a paramedic with Sartori Hospital.  In late 1980’s he started his career with Waterloo Fire and Rescue until his retirement in 2005.  During his time as a firefighter, Sam also felt called to ministry and pursued a career as a pastor for multiple churches in the Cedar Valley and New Hampton, IA, as well as Prescott, AZ and Urbandale, IA. Outside of work, Sam enjoyed to travel with his family. He blessed them with too many baseball games to count, trips to Canada, and even the Olympics in 1996.

Sam loved life, and was a real role model for all of the students in our program.  He reached out to his student trainer and her family, and treated them as if they were his own family.  After graduation they stayed in touch, and communicated regularly.  She was so touched by his kindness and the impact he had on her life that she wrote a tribute for him, and it is with great pride we share this.

To start with, there are not enough words to describe how unforgettably grateful I am to have known Sam. As I am thinking about what I am going to say, I am in tears as I cannot seem to find the right way to express my gratefulness to Sam because in every way possible he has blessed me. Whether that be by supporting me with Doug’s training or supporting me in my personal life. As I am thinking about the times we spoke together I cannot remember one time when Sam was unhappy. He was always so positive and showed me how much he loved others and loved God. He taught me so many things about my relationship with God and how God not only has changed his life but how he has, can, and will change mine. I can remember him coming with me to my church to see how Doug reacts in that setting and instantly I could see how much he cared about me and my family as he offered to go out of his way to learn not only about Doug but about my family, and I can remember the day of graduation when Sam gave me one of the best gift someone could ever give. He presented me with a story book of Doug’s journey, titled “Hello, My Name is Doug. A Service Dog Tale” this book touched my heart so very much as it reminded me of all of things I did with both Doug and Sam, and it showed me how much of a compassionate, caring, and loving man he was, and even though that day I gifted him one of the best friends I could’ve ever have. I knew Doug was going to such an amazing loving and caring man that would love him even more than I did. Even after graduation he still stayed in contact with me and asked me how I was doing and helped me so much even though he was thousands of miles away. I wish I could say so much more about how grateful I am to Sam as he touched my life and how I wish I could have known him longer, but I know he is now in an amazing place with our Lord and with all of my heart I want to offer my condolences to his family and friends.

Rest in peace, dear friend.  Our condolences go out to Brenda and their entire family for their tragic loss.

Feb 012018
service puppies

Thank You for Allowing Us to Serve AZ for 10 Years!

Happy 10th Anniversary to the FSDS!  This month the FSDS celebrates it’s 10th year of service to Arizona, and we take time to reminisce about our beginnings and the remarkable journey we have taken thanks to the innumerable blessings and support from our community.

In Sept of 2007 two retired medical professionals, Miriam Peterman (Ret. nurse) and CJ Betancourt MD (Ret. physician) began feasibility studies to explore the creation of a SD foundation that would meet some critical needs of SD teams that had been unaddressed.  In Feb. of 2008, seated around the kitchen table of Miriam Peterman and joined by a small group of dedicated professionals, the proposed Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws were approved and mailed off to the AZ Corporation Commission.  These individuals reached into their own pockets to cover the costs of start-up.  The FSDS charter was granted by the Commission in Mid-February, and the FSDS was born.  In July of that year, the IRS granted the FSDS their 501c3 status.

Early on we charted a course for success, realizing that one of the greatest unmet needs in AZ was education and services to those teams living in any of the vast rural areas of AZ and lacking geographic proximity to a formal training program.  For this reason, outreach services were one of the first services put in place and we have made great progress in growing these services over the years.  From our initial Outreach Certification Network, to providing opportunities for independent trainers to join a network, to our recent initiative to start a SD Trainer Academy, we continue to work to ensure that our services are inclusive.

From these humble beginnings with nothing more than Articles of Incorporation and a dream, we have built a comprehensive set of policy and procedure, and have systematically added programs and services to include:

  • Outreach Certification across the nation
  • Canine Safety Training: Basic and Advanced Life Support
  • AZ POST (CEU credited training) on SD issues for peace officers
  • In-House Training Program
  • SD Trainer Academy

Today, our network includes 114 qualified trainers across the nation and we have certified over 100 teams.  Along the way, we have also expanded our in-house training to include facility dogs, and devised the first exclusive certification testing means for these dogs.  In March of this year, we will award yet one more of these facility dogs, this one to the Peoria PD to help them start a vitally needed K9 Victim Assistance Program.

As we established our training program, we initially piloted the project on high school campuses, and today this program is run independent of any other school in order to open our doors to all youths and adults across AZ who wish to participate.  Many of our dogs are raised by local teens, who are seeking a way to make a large contribution to their community, and this program provides them with such an opportunity.  This reciprocal mentoring experience that pairs local teens / citizens with wounded military and first responders in need and helps to build bridges and increase sensitivity to the plight of those who serve is perhaps our proudest accomplishment.

As we continue to grow, we remind ourselves daily of our commitment to filling any identified gaps and creating workable strategies for those with disabilities who are in need of service dogs.  Our hopes for the near future include a dedicated facility space, expansion of our trainer academy and providing in-house training opportunities to individuals who reside outside of the Phoenix Metro area.  If you are interested in being a part of this incredible journey and growing with the FSDS, we are currently seeking individuals for:

  • Board members- seeking individuals with backgrounds in business, accounting, law, IT
  • Volunteers to help with a variety of tasks, including graphic design
  • Student trainers interested in raising a SD for a deserving community hero

Interested individuals can contact Dr. B for further information.

Classroom News

CB7 Class – our advanced class is hard at work on advanced SD skills, and preparing for graduation next month.  This is a very exciting time, though it does provoke some anxiety as it means that the final program certification test is looming large.  We are confident in our teams, however, and are expecting great success from all.  Special Kudos to Det. Gretel Hopkins and her future Level II Facility Dog “Oliver” on outstanding team work this past month.  Det. Hopkins has been a superb role model for the young woman who are training the dog for the police dept..  Kudos to Abigail and Amanda Van Asdall as well for going above and beyond to help put this vital service in place and bring much needed relief to thousands of people in Peoria during the working life of this team.  and the staff of the Peoria PD on achieving their canine Safety Certification / Basic Life Support.  Special  thanks also to hard working FSDS student Daisy Saenz and her SDIT “Indy”.  Daisy is training her dog for a military veteran and has gone consistently above and beyond, proving that she is a role model for all teens in our community.

CB8 Class – this is our beginner class, and we are so pleased to report that they are making excellent progress.  All dogs are potty trained reliably, and are working to master their basic obedience skills.  Special praise to Lindsey Carlson and her SDIT “Bentley” for their hard work and progress during the month of January.  We also want to send a shout out to Brianna Espinosa who is raising her second SDIT “Eastwood”.  Brianna is a real asset to our program and we appreciate all her hard work.

Wellness Tip

Spider bites – every year dogs suffer from the bites of venomous spiders.  Of particular concern are bites from black widow and brown recluse spiders.  It is important for every dog owner to understand the signs and symptoms of a serious bite so that they can seek veterinary care without delay.

Black widow spider bites are painful, and your dog will likely communicate to you that they have been bitten immediately.  Signs and symptoms include but are not limited to abdominal cramping, excessive drooling and panting, muscle tremors and vomiting.

Brown recluse spider bites, in contrast, are painless.  Most often a dog will not feel the bite and you will not be aware there is a problem until a skin lesion begins to develop.  These lesions may initially blister, then ulcerate.  Your dog may develop a widespread skin infection known as cellulitis, and may have an elevated temperature and appear lethargic.

If your dog is licking or pulling at their fur, it is important that you separate the hairs carefully and get a good look at their underlying skin.  Prevention is always the best option.  In certain parts of the US warm weather arrives as early as February, so this is a good time to clean up any piles of wood, rocks or other debris in your yard, as these are areas where spiders may hide.

Remember to supervise your dogs outdoors play at all times.

Thank You!

We wish to thank the following groups and individuals for their generosity this past month:

  • Del E. Webb Foundation
  • Desert Diamond Casino
  • Sundt Foundation
  • Dr. Margaret Brown
  • Barry MacKean
  • Richard and Brenda Elder
  • Valerie Schluter
  • Sue Vereb
  • Wendy Lawson
  • Lisa Sefranka

We appreciate the support of these individuals, and our community, for it is this type of support that allows us to continue to serve Arizona’s SD needs.

Essay Contest: SD Trainer Academy Scholarship to be Awarded to Winner

We are pleased to announce that the FSDS will hold it’s first ever essay writing contest, with the prize to be a full scholarship to the SD Trainer Academy.  This scholarship is valued at $3,000.  The scholarship monies were a generous donation from Dr. Margaret Brown, in loving memory of her husbands first SD “Dorjee”.

Applicants must submit an essay that is between 2,000-2,500 words and answers the following questions:

  • Why do you wish to become a SD trainer?
  • Why do you wish to work with the disability community?
  • What qualities do you possess that make you a good candidate for this program?
  • In what type of setting do you see yourself working in 5 years?  10 years?
  • What type of personal connection, if any, do you have to the military and first response community?

Applicants must:

  • be a U.S. citizen
  • be a permanent resident of AZ for at least one year
  • be at least 18 years of age
  • be interested in SD training as a career path
  • have no history of felony conviction or pending charges
  • have no history of illicit substance abuse
  • be willing to obtain a fingerprint clearance card
  • be willing to remain with the FSDS for at least 2 years after graduation

Applications will be accepted between Feb. 1 and April 30th.  The winner will be announced in late May.  Essays must be:

  • neatly typed
  • 12 point font
  • standard 1″ margins
  • fall within the word count ranges specified above; those that fall below or above the word count requirements will not be considered.

Please include a cover page with your essay with the following information:

  • Name and contact information (email and phone)
  • Mailing address
  • DOB
  • Place of birth

You Are Cordially Invited…

This year, in recognition of our 10th anniversary of service to AZ, the FSDS will hold graduation as a free event, open to the public.  In past years, we had held graduation at a lovely venue, with a catered meal to celebrate the success of our teams.  This year, we have opted for a different approach.  We much prefer to hold this very special occasion, a combined graduation and birthday party, as an outdoor free event open to the public.  Our rationale is that we would much prefer to each cake from a paper plate with all of our friends and supporters at our side, than to eat a catered meal with a select few in attendance.  10 years of service is a milestone not only for the FSDS, but for the entire community without whose support this day would never have arrived.

We are pleased to announce that the keynote speaker will be an officer of the Peoria PD, and once again we are honored to have Donna Rossi, from Channel 5 News, return as our Emcee.  Many thanks to Michael and Priscilla at the Silver Rose Bakery in Peoria AZ for offering to donate a very special custom cake for the event.

A few other surprises have been planned for the event.  The Event will be held:

Date:  Saturday, April (TBD) at 11:00 a.m.

Location: Centennial Plaza, 9875 N 85th Ave in Peoria, Arizona

We look forward to seeing all of our friends there.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 25thWestbrook Village Veterans Support Club Old Car Show. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m..  This fun and family friendly event is held in Westbrook Village at the Vistas Recreation Center, 18825 Country Club Parkway, Peoria, AZ, and proceeds help support the FSDS mission to provide service dogs to wounded veterans.

March 17th – Armed Forces Support Group Golf Tournament.  10 a.m. at the Granite Falls South and Desert Springs Golf Courses in Sun City Grand.  A portion of the proceeds each year go to help support our mission to provide SDs to military veterans in need.  This year, we are honored to be recognized as their showcased program.  If you are interested in participating in this event please download their brochure.  AFSG Brochure 2018

April (TBD) – FSDS Graduation and Anniversary Party – 11:00 a.m. at Centennial Plaza, located at 9875N. 85th Ave, Peoria AZ.  The event is free and open to the public.  Please note that this event was originally scheduled for March 24th and has been rescheduled to allow for participation by some key recipients.

Thank You to Our Newest Supporter

Many thanks to our friends at chewy.com for their desire to help the FSDS grow.  They have set up a landing page for the FSDS, and for each first time customer who shops via this page chewy.com will donate $20 to the FSDS to help support our mission.  Check out the discounts on all your pet needs and help support the FSDS mission simultaneously!

Photo Gallery

As February is our 10th anniversary of service to AZ, we thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane and share some of our favorite photos from the past 10 years.

new pupsEM_GirlsIMG_5004IMG_3809 20171226_122047Abigail and OliverPoodle Pup2image2 - Copy tony and katieGAIN8 2015 GAIN5 2015Charliegraduates2

The Foundation for Service Dog Support

The Foundation for Service Dog Support

IMG_1070Freddie close upIMG_0588Katie-ribbon-1024x576image1Best-pic-ever_Bigbylynn_tex-1024x737 matt_sarah-small

Billy and Zeus Brandon and Zoey 2012 brittney and sam x2 Coral_Tex Felicia and Marley 2012 Jacob and Nala 2012 Jonna and Bailey2 Kathryn and Noah 2012 Penny and Nia SAM right face

The Foundation for Service Dog Support

Jan 192018

We wish to express our deep appreciation to the Sundt Foundation for their recent grant to assist us in providing our dogs with necessary equipment.  Sundt has been a sponsor of our program since 2009 and we are grateful to them for their ongoing support and their commitment to providing services to Arizonans in need.

Jan 192018
The Foundation for Service Dog Support

Our sincere thanks to the Del E. Webb Foundation (DEWF) for their recent generous grant to support our training program.  Donations such as this make a huge difference in our community, as they help us to provide services to individuals with disabilities who lack resources to otherwise obtain services.  We appreciate their involvement in our program as well as their demonstrated commitment to making AZ communities a better place to live.

Jan 092018

Today we pause for a moment to say thank you to the many law enforcement professionals who work each day to keep us safe.  Just as our military overseas to protect us, our first responders fight a battle here on our streets each day.  We are forever in debt to them for their courage, commitment and unselfish sacrifice made each day on our behalf.  We appreciate all you do.

Jan 062018
Gretel and Shadow

Our sincere thanks to Desert Diamond Casino in the West Valley for their recent generous gift to help us provide a Victim Assistance K9 to the Peoria Police Department.  This gift will provide benefits to thousands of crime victims and officers during the working life of this team.

Visit Desert Diamond Casino on Facebook to learn more about how they are helping programs like ours in the community, and please “Like” their page while you are there.

Oct 292017

Please join us in congratulating our advanced class on their recent success with Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Testing.  We are pleased to announce that the entire class has now passed their CGC test, the first of three skill tests on the road to becoming a certified SD.  The final group tested yesterday, and did a super job.   We are so proud of all of our students / teams:

  • Amanda and Shadow (pictured)
  • Abigail and Oliver
  • Zanna and Duke
  • Daisy and Indy
  • Pearl and Adara

We are looking forward to their continued success.

Oct 222017

We all know that service dogs save lives, but at times this takes on a new meaning.  We were recently contacted by a past recipient who shared this uplifting story of how her SD saved her life….and perhaps the lives of others that day as well.

The woman, who chooses to remain anonymous, was visiting family out of town, and decided to explore the new city by taking her SD for a walk.  While walking along a man passed close by…and then without warning turned and punched her in the face, fracturing her cheekbone and knocking her to the ground.  He snatched her purse and ran, confident that he would get away.  What he failed to take into account was a phenomenon known as “intelligent disobedience“.

The FSDS trains our SDs to remain within 2 feet of the handler at all times, quietly allowing the handler to assume team leadership and make decisions.  They are also trained, as in the case of this dog, to retrieve objects for the handler.  Intelligent disobedience is said to occur when a SD behaves outside of normal rules in response to a situation where they perceive that their handler is in danger.  Though witnesses acted quickly and ran to help, the suspect would have easily gotten away as he had a good lead.

The SD acted quickly, running after the suspect and with a flying tackle knocked him to the ground, holding him at bay until the witnesses caught up and were able to restrain the attacker.  The SD then quietly backed up, retrieved the stolen purse and carried it back to his handler!  He remained at her side quietly throughout the police and ambulance response, and her subsequent hospital treatment.

The police noted that this suspect was a known violent felon, and they did indeed locate a gun on him.  They noted that if the SD had not acted quickly, the suspect would have likely gotten away, and attacked others that day, perhaps even shooting and killing someone.  They hailed the SD as a hero.

When they asked the suspect why he had targeted this woman, he reportedly replied “because she is a cripple”.  When asked if he did not notice that she had a large dog with her, he reportedly admitted that he thought SDs were supposed to sit and do nothing.  Lesson learned!

This SD was trained in the FSDS program by local teens.  Though they could not have imagined this at the time that they devoted 18 months of their lives to train the dog, through their hard work and dedication they helped to save the life of this woman and others in the community.  Never underestimate the power of a teen…or a SD.

Oct 202017
Gretel and Shadow

Among the many services that the FSDS provides to the community is the training and certification of facility dogs for agencies that serve crime victims, particularly child victims.  The FSDS is proud to announce that we will be providing a Level II Facility Dog to the Peoria Police Department to work in their new K9 Victim Assistance Program.

The Peoria PD will be awarded a purebred male Golden Retriever named “Shadow”, a sweet and gentle dog.  Shadow’s future handler, Detective Gretel Hopkins, is already hard at work to master all commands and knowledge necessary to build a strong working relationship with Shadow, and a firm knowledge base upon which the police department may grow it’s program.

One of the things that makes this so special is that this dog, who is expected to benefit literally thousands of crime victims and officers over the course of it’s career, is being raised by a local teen in our training program.  Amanda Van Asdall is just 15 years old and this is the third dog that she is training for the FSDS.   Her 12 year old sister, Abigail, is assisting with the training.  This is just another wonderful example of how we strive to empower youths to help change the world for the better.

Shadow, and the officer training, is being provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the police department, however funds are still needed to assist with this vital service.  To find out how you can help, contact us.


Sep 202017
Poodle Pup2

The FSDS has openings available for individuals interested in acquiring SD training skills to participate in our upcoming Nov. 2017 class.  Eligible candidates must:

  • be able to house and care for their SDIT during the 18 month training program
  • have transportation to and from classes
  • be willing to commit to the entire 18 month training program, and this includes summer session
  • be mature and responsible
  • have a genuine desire to serve your community
  • have no criminal record
  • be preferably age 15 or older, but will accept slightly younger if mature for age

Teens and adults are eligible to apply.  Students learn everything from basic obedience instruction up to and including advanced SD training skills, nutrition, grooming as well as canine FA and CPR certification.  Interested individuals may download an application packet from our website.