Jan 012018

Focus for 2018: SD Trainer Academy

As we enter a new year, we turn our attention to a focus area for us in 2018.  Next month will mark the 10th birthday for the FSDS, a milestone worth celebrating.  Over the past 10 years, our program has undergone some improvements, as we continue to carefully gather impact data and use this information to make those improvements needed to better service our population.

During 2008 we were hard at work to lay the foundation for a unique type of program that would couple the provision of education for those interested in attaining SD training skills with the provision of SDs to those in need.  This program was initially piloted in a high school setting, and two years ago we expanded this program to include all interested individuals in the community.  Instead of only allowing enrollment to a small handful of students on one campus, the FSDS now has the ability to open our training to all students and adults in AZ who are able to attend weekly classes.

Having accomplished the above, we immediately turned our attention to expansion of this training to individuals across the U.S.  This goal will be accomplished by expansion our highly successful online didactic training and tapping into the network of qualified SD Evaluators in our Outreach Network, that we have been building since Sept of 2008. This will help us to achieve our mission of placing qualified trainers in rural, remote regions that are currently lacking qualified trainers or programs to meet the demand for service dogs.  Our unique training program fills a gap that has been left by traditional canine obedience training programs in that it teaches individuals to train dogs from early obedience and training up to advanced service dog skills.  It also provides critically needed education and training on an array of disability issues, and helps trainers understand how to meet the learning challenges of those with disabilities.  SD training is not just about training the dog – it is all about training a well-functioning team.

Obstacles2_June_2016Our program permits individuals to achieve success on four trainer levels:

  • Novice
  • Junior
  • Senior
  • Master

Each level has been carefully constructed to offer three comprehensive online courses PLUS a requirement that students complete 75 hours of hands-on training at each level.

As we enter 2018, we focus on enrollment of students and building the academy program.  As we do, we will continue to gather careful data, and use this data to continue to make improvements in our ability to reach out to trainers and teams across the U.S.

For information on how to enroll in our SD Trainer Academy, please submit a request for information with us.

Classroom News

Beginner Class – our new beginners are hard at work on their basic puppy obedience tasks.  This past month Lindsey Carlson and Bentley have made great strides on loose leash walking and focus, while Heather Vedeler and JW have done excellent work on the “touch” command.  Titus Springer and Vader have made great gains in working on good team communication, while Scott and Hamilton have made improvements in working on drive.  Brianna Espinosa and Eastwood have done a stellar job of working on overall basic obedience skills, and no surprises here as this is the second FSDS dog that Brianna is raising for us.

Advanced Class – the advanced class is fine tuning service dog skills.  This past month, the teams all passed the FSDS public appropriateness test which is the final certification test minus the service task stations.  This test is given as a practice run for the ultimate test, and all teams are doing a great job and are right on task.  Special praise this month to Amanda and Abigail Van Asdall.  These sisters are each raising a SD for the FSDS.  Kudos also to Daisy Saenz and Indy for improvements on touch targeting and focus.

Support the FSDS for NO Extra Cost

We ask that all of our readers who shop on Amazon sign up to have a portion of the proceeds from their sales go to support the FSDS.  This is a great way to support us at no additional cost to you.

Sign up here to support the FSDS.

Prayers for a Swift Recovery

IMG_20141226_0001Miriam Peterman is one of the co-founders of the FSDS.  She remains hospitalized at this time, and has asked that I convey her appreciation to all who have been praying for her.  We ask that you continue to hold her and her family in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.


Wellness Tip

It is important to speak with your veterinarian regarding recommendations for “non-core” vaccines.  These are those vaccines that are not required, but may potentially benefit your dog.  As a SD is out and about the community on any given day, it is important that handlers take additional precautions.  Some examples of non-core vaccines that you will want to discuss with your veterinarian include:

  • Bordatella
  • Leptospirosis
  • Canine influenza
  • Rattlesnake

We also remind all readers to change your dogs toothbrush to a new one on the first day of each month.  Poor dentition can lead to kidney problems and other serious issues.  Make certain that you brush your SDs teeth regularly with an enzymatic toothbrush designed for dogs.

Thank You

Our sincere thank to the following individuals and groups who have generously supported our programs in the past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Armed Forces Support Group Sun City Grand
  • Casino Arizona
  • Brenda and Sam Webb
  • Stu Lofquist
  • Larry Winfrey
  • Barry MacKean
  • Wendy Lawson

Upcoming Events

March 17 – Armed Forces Support Group Sun City Grand Golf Tournament – Details TBA.

Photo Gallery

When not actively training or at work, our dogs relax at home and enjoy celebrating the holidays with their families.

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Dec 012017

FAKE Service Dogs

The issue of fake service dogs in public is one that continues to garner a lot of attention yet very few interventions.  This month we discuss some of the issues behind this troubling public health threat.

It is a disturbing reality that anyone can go online, purchase a generic service dog vest and patches and a fake ID and present in public claiming to be a SD team…and expect to get away with it.  In some cases it may be hard to separate the fakers from the real teams, while in other cases the truth is blatantly obvious yet business owners or managers are afraid of the threat of lawsuit and will back down.  This past month we spotlighted one case, as this represented a good teaching case.  We have removed all names and identifying information of the fake team and organization involved. This is a situation that was experienced by our Exec. Director as she made a difficult, but correct, decision to withdraw from a group she belonged to in order to protect her certified SD.  The case involved a woman who has brought her pet dog in public and has been observed pushing the dog around stores in a baby stroller.  She has stated that the dog is not a SD, but is in fact so destructive that if she leaves it at home it causes significant damages to the home.  She further states that she has learned that if she claims it to be a SD a business must permit entry and she is able to avoid costly damages to her home.

What does the law say?

ADA law provides us with a definition of a SD and also parameters regarding what a business is permitted to ask if a team seeks to gain entrance to their establishment.  A SD is defined as, “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”  So, we see that the law requires the dog to have received training.

The two questions that any business is permitted to ask are:

  • Is this a SD required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

As long as any person states that this is a SD and comes up with any answer to the second question, they are given a free pass to enter a business.  One of the real flaws in this law is that the law does not require professional training, certification or any credible proof that the dog has been trained.  Furthermore, the same law that requires training prohibits businesses from asking questions regarding whether or not the dog was trained.  Even in cases where a person arrives pushing the dog in a baby stroller, they are permitted entrance.  In fact in the case reported, a person can admit on many occasions that the dog is not a SD, and yet if they provide the correct answer when attempting to cross the threshold, businesses must permit entrance.

What can the police do?

If called, traditionally police officers have responded to say that since a business may only ask two questions, they are not permitted to ask for proof of training or certification.  About a year ago, our Director called the AZ Corporation Commission, as all businesses are required to register with the commission n order to conduct business in AZ.  She asked if police departments were regarded as businesses.  The answer was no.  Our concern is that it appears that the law that restricts businesses to these two questions appears to be incorrectly applied to police departments and this is preventing the officers from obtaining the very information that they will need to effectively discharge their duties.

What we believe

It is the position of the FSDS that proper training and certification must be the gold standards.  A system of checks and balances that ensures testing for all dogs who wish to present in public to ensure they are able to work safely will result in elimination of fake SDs from the public space and increased protection for all.  We further believe that future legislation must specifically spell out what police are empowered to do in situations where there is a question of a fake SD team.

Classroom News

Beginner Class – we wish to extend a warm welcome to our new student trainers and recipients:

  • Brianna Espinosa – student trainer now raising her 2nd dog with the FSDS
  • Lindsey Carlson – student trainer
  • Heather Vedeler – student trainer
  • Titus and LeAnna Springer – recipient and parent / team training
  • Catherine Teel – recipient / military family
  • Adam Croner – recipient / military veteran
  • Brian Brown – recipient / military veteran
  • Adam Sierra – recipient / police officer
  • Scott and Christie Sefranka – student trainers

The beginner class has just started and is at work on puppy skills such as potty training, sit, down and stay.  They are off to a fine start and we are delighted to welcome them to the FSDS.

Advanced Class – congratulations are in order to this hard working class for all passing the Canine Good Citizen test this past month.  We are very proud of their accomplishments.  The class is now at work on final practice for the public access test, and has begun the work of advanced service dog task training.


FullSizeRenderPlease join us in congratulating Jessica Parker on her recent promotion to lead instructor in the FSDS SD training program.  Jessica is a graduate of the Animal Behavior College and has been with the FSDS since early 2017. She brings an expertise in animal training along with her great enthusiasm for serving the community and mentoring the next generation of trainers.

Prayers for a Speedy Recovery

IMG_20141226_0001Our thoughts and prayers are with FSDS co-founder Miriam Peterman.  She has been hospitalized since October and faces risky surgery.  Miriam has worked tirelessly for the past 10 years to bring services to those in need here in AZ, and this past year was named 2017 Employee of the Year.  We wish her a speedy and uneventful recovery.


Wellness Tip

The holidays are here and it is time for a reminder that those holiday “goodies” that us humans look forward to may be lethal for your dogs.  Some of the leading offenders in terms of toxicity include chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, garlic and onions.  In addition, bones from a turkey or other meat should not be given to your dog, as these can fragment and lodge in the palate, creating significant pain and injury.  Be watchful when baking as well, as rising dough that is swallowed by your dog can continue to rise in the stomach and intestines creating a blockage…and this can require surgical intervention.  Some helpful tips include:

  • make certain that candy dishes or other food items are not placed on a low coffee or end table within reach of your dog
  • supervise your dog at all times around holiday decorations, particularly glass ornaments that can cause intestinal injury if eaten
  • food scraps should be discarded in a trash can with a lid if it is not to be taken outside immediately

Thank You

We wish to express our sincere thanks to the following for their generous program support in the past month:

  • Casino AZ
  • Valerie Schluter
  • David Larance
  • Lauren Kuehner
  • Kayci Cutler
  • Diane C. Stamp

Upcoming Events

Graduation 2018 – Date TBD will take place in Spring of 2018.  Stay tuned for exact time and date.

Photo Gallery

We thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite photos from the past year.

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The Foundation for Service Dog Support

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Nov 012017

Victim Assistance Dog

Gretel and ShadowWe are pleased to announce that we will be awarding a Level II Facility Dog to the Peoria Police Department (PD) to assist them in starting a K9 Victim Assistance Program.  This vital service will bring much needed support and relief to crime victims and officers alike.

So- what is a Facility Dog?  This is a question that is often raised as there is much confusion created by conflicting nomenclature.  We often hear terms used such as therapy dog, victim assistance dog, court dog, comfort dog, emotional support animal, service dog, companion dog and more.  In order to eliminate confusion, the FSDS has devised a system of nomenclature that is a bit easier to understand.

Service dogs (SD) are those dogs trained to perform tasks to mitigate the disabilities of the handler.  Only a SD is entitled to public access under ADA law.

Victim assistance or court dogs are trained to perform work within a facility.  We designate three levels, and this is dependent upon the type of training that is needed to ensure that the dog can perform to standards:

  • Level I dogs are trained to work within the confines of a single facility.  Examples of a Level I dog are those dogs assigned to work with a therapist in an office setting, or to work with victims at a particular location.
  • Level II dogs are trained to provides services as above, but are also trained to do call-outs.  Examples of this are dogs that work with police officers and respond to crime scenes to provide on site comfort to victims and officers.
  • Level III dogs are trained to accompany victims into the courtroom to provide comfort during difficult testimonies.

We are providing the Peoria PD with  Level II dog, a purebred male Golden Retriever with a sweet and gentle nature.  He is being trained by a local teen, Amanda Van Asdall, who at just 15 years of age is already raising her 3rd dog with the FSDS.  The handler for the Peoria PD will be Det. Gretel Hopkins.  Det. Hopkins is assigned to the Special Victims Unit, and we believe is the ideal candidate for this job.  She is dedicated to the citizens of Peoria, compassionate, motivated to succeed and has a keen ability to connect with others.  Det. Hopkins is a wonderful addition to our class and we are expecting great success.

Dogs such as this are expensive to train, and the cost is not being passed along to the police department.  Nonetheless, there is always a cost.  If you would like to find out how you, or your local community business or group can get involved in helping us to support this vital program, please contact us directly.  It is our expectation that over the working life of this team, they will bring desperately needed relief and services to thousands of crime victims.  Kudos to the Peoria PD for taking steps to launch this vital and innovative program.

Classroom News

Beginner Class –  the beginner class will officially meet for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 4th.  Stay tuned for information next month.

Advanced Class – the teams have been hard at work this past month, between public events and classroom exercises.  The final teams took their Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test this past month and they have all passed.  The CGC test is the first of three skill tests that a team must pass on the road to becoming a certified team.

A Warm Welcome

This  past month we are pleased to welcome two more military veterans to our program.

  • Diana Woodrum is an Army veteran who was stationed in Korea.  She is being awarded a SD in recognition of her service to our nation to assist with various medical needs.
  • Brian Brown is a decorated Navy Veteran and worked as a combat medic embedded with a US Marine unit.  He was wounded in the line of duty and will be awarded a SD to assist with multiple needs.

We are also pleased to welcome one our our STAR student trainers to the SD Trainer Academy:

  • Amanda Van Asdall is currently training her 3rd dog for the FSDS.  She plans to continue training additional dogs.  Amanda is currently working to complete her Level I: Novice Trainer classes.

Impact Statements

In the months that follow, we will be working to follow up with our past recipients to learn more about how their SD has impacted their lives.  Though we work on task training, and the general public as a vague idea that SDs help people, there are always impacts that most would not imagine.  This past week, we were provided with valuable feedback from a past recipient, that underscores the value of a SD and paints a much clearer picture of how the cost to train is justified by the physical and financial benefits to both recipient and society.   This recipient noted some additional benefits that include:

  • Prior to receiving the SD, the recipient was on 7-8 medications for PTSD, she is now off all meds, sparing not only cost for her and her insurance carrier, but eliminating all of the adverse side effects that these meds caused
  • Prior to her SD, she experienced approximately 4-5 costly hospitalizations per year for medical emergencies; since receiving her SD who is able to provide early alert to problems and allow her to intervene in time, she has not had any hospitalizations for medical emergencies
  • Her diabetes was not well controlled and her A1c level was 6.9; it is now 5.1 and her condition is in good control
  • Her blood pressure is under control; prior to her SD she was on 4 different meds, now she takes only one medication
  • Her out of pocket medical bills were running as high as $3,000/year, since receiving her SD there have been no out of pocket expenses
  • Her SD has learned to alert her to migraines, prior to her SD she had no warning and was experiencing migraines resulting in her being confined to bed 2-3 days in a row, her dog now alerts allowing her to take meds early and there have been no more such episodes

We will continue to monitor our recipients.  This really is a wake up call for medical insurance agencies, and it is our belief that if carriers were to provide benefits to assist individuals in receiving their SDs, the cost would far outweigh the expenses.

Wellness Tip

This month we focus on the importance of preventive care for your SD.  So many dogs suffer as a result of problems that are potentially preventable.  We remind all of our readers to pursue prevention, rather than intervention, whenever possible.

Regular inspection of your dog combined with regularly scheduled Vet visits for wellness checks can often detect problems at an early stage, when treatable.  Some routine things you will want to check on your dog include but are not limited to:

  • check paws after exercise or play outdoors to ensure that there are no injuries
  • monitor the weight of your dog to ensure they are not overweight; ensure that your dogs diet is AAFCO approved
  • inspect the mouth to ensure that the gums are a healthy pink color, teeth are not discolored or broken and there are no foul breath odors that may signal disease; brush teeth regularly
  • inspect the coat and skin for evidence of hot spots, dryness, bites, lumps or other problems
  • nail care – if you can hear the nails “clicking” on the floor when your dog walks – it is time for a nail trimming
  • ear care – avoid the use of Q-tips; clean your dogs ears using cotton pad or gauze pad soaked with an ear cleaning solution designed for dogs; check for signs of ticks
  • emotional wellness – never underestimate the importance of quality bonding time to ensure the happiness of your dog
  • Speak with your veterinarian to schedule regular wellness checks and vaccine updates

Thank You

Our sincere thanks to the following for their support of our mission during the month of October:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Judy Sedich
  • CR Bard Peripheral Vascular
  • Casino Arizona

Upcoming Events

Nov. 1st – Bard Peripheral Vascular (Bard PV) Employee Health & Wellness Fair from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Photo Gallery

Enjoy some photos of our teams at the recent G.A.I.N. Event in Peoria.  Our staff and teams were on hand to provide hands on demonstrations on canine first aid and CPR.  Event-goes of all ages took their turn, including one very precious little boy who with a boost from Dad practiced his new skills.

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Oct 012017

How to Eat an Elephant

This past month I was reminded once again of an old adage…and how our take on this differs from commonly accepted belief.

If you ask most people the question “How do you eat an elephant”, the most common response is likely to be “One bite at a time”.  Here at the FSDS, we have a different philosophy.  We believe that regardless of how slow you go, and how many bites you take, if you attempt to eat an entire elephant two things will happen:

  1. You will have an epic case of indigestion.
  2. The elephant will spoil before you could finish, resulting in waste and depriving others of their part.

In this case, the proverbial elephant is the amount of work that must be done to keep the FSDS running and continue to provide services to meet the growing demands of our community.  Our response to the age old question is:

“The best way to eat an elephant is to invite the entire community to share with you.”

How true this is.  There is much work to be done, and the FSDS is actively looking to recruit the assistance of many here in our community to assist us.  There are many service dog programs that continue to sprout up in our community.  Often however, the costs are too high.   It does no good to continue to build programs that price out those with the greatest need.  If the programs are not financially accessible, then they are of little use.

The FSDS program has worked hard to hold down costs.  Despite the fact that we are nearing our 10th year of service here in AZ, we do not have a dedicated facility.  we have worked to hold down any administrative / overhead expenses, which has permitted us to provide SDs to those with the greatest need.  We provide SDs at no out of pocket cost to wounded military veterans and first responders.  We provide low cost SDs to families with chronically ill children, who due to their overriding medical expenses can not afford a down-payment or even a monthly payment plan to afford a dog from other programs.  For these individuals, the FSDS program has become a court of last resort.  It has become commonplace for us to hear from those accepted into our program that they had all but given up hope of assistance, and that acceptance into our program for them comes after many long and frustrating years of searching.

The FSDS administrators work from home, and we have been blessed with the gift of shared facility space in our community.  This has served to hold down the cost of services.  Though we lack the physical trappings of other organizations that may serve to impress at a first glance, what we have built is a program that truly works and is able to serve the most vulnerable members of our community.

As we near our 10th birthday, we send out an invitation to all to come share this elephant with us.  We need individuals with the following skills:

  • Event planning
  • Graphic design
  • Hands on assistance at events
  • Student trainers for the upcoming class

Our event planner, Mr. Gary Noble is looking to put together a committee to work on events and our upcoming graduation / birthday.  This is our “elephant sharing party” – and you are all cordially invited!  Please contact Gary for information on how you can become a part of our team.

Classroom News

Advanced Class – this past month our advanced class took their AKC Canine Good Citizen Tests.  We are pleased to report that the class performed well.  All of our students have done an outstanding job this past month, but there are just a few who deserve additional mention this month.

Pearl Willis and her SDIT Adara are doing a great job and we have observed that Pearl demonstrates outstanding abilities as a team player and a leader.  The same can be said of Amanda VanAsdall and her SDIT Shadow.  Pearl and Amanda are both young teens with a heart for serving their community and a willingness to extend a hand to others in need.  Recipient Catherine Teel gets four paws up this month for being a diligent and courteous learner.  Catherine keeps wonderful notes, and has been willing to share her own notes with any student who may have been absent.  She is noted to be kind and considerate to others, and has earned the respect of her classmates.  Many thanks to LeAnn Fuller for taking such beautiful photos of our teams and for her willingness to share these photos with others.

Beginner class – the new beginner class is scheduled to begin the first Saturday in November, so stay tuned for further information.  Enjoy the photos of our adorable new puppies in the photo gallery below.

Wellness Tip

IMG_1817Dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin, is a problem that can affect dogs.  Golden retrievers are notoriously susceptible to this condition.  Also known as “hot spots” that can be worsened by the dog picking, biting or licking at the affected area.  This can arise from anything that irritates the skin, such as a bite or minor infection, or constant licking due to stress or boredom.

It is important for all handlers to check their dog for hot spots on a regular basis.  In the event that you should discover a hot spot, consult your veterinarian immediately so that proper treatment can commence without delay.

Halloween Safety

October is here, and the Fall decorating and festivities are officially in full swing.  Halloween can be a scary time for your dog, and it is important for all handlers to be sensitive to the body language and needs of your SD.  Remember the following:

  • spooky or moving displays in stores can be confusing and frightening for your dog; approach slowly and let your dog observe from a distance at first before inching closer
  • keep all candy dishes well out of the reach of your dog, chocolate, macadamia nuts, raisins and other sweet treats are toxic to dogs
  • always supervise your dog around any costumes
  • keep home decorations out of reach of your dog; many items, if ingested, can cause intestinal obstruction and result in a need for emergency surgery
  • if you plan to have your SD at your side when answering the door for trick-or-treaters, make certain that they are on a leash; even a well-trained dog can run if frightened

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Thank you

Our sincere thanks to the following for their generous support of our program this past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Shirley Holbert
  • DAV Auxillary

Upcoming Events

October 14th, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.: This fun and family friendly event is designed to promote public safety.  The FSDS will be on hand to provide information on service dogs as well as hands-on demonstrations on first aid and CPR.  The event will be held at the Pioneer Community Park located at 8755 N. 83rd Ave, Peoria AZ.

October 21st, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Western Avenue, Avondale, AZ.  The FSDS will be on hand as a part of the Vetfest activities to provide information on SDs to veterans in need.

Photo Gallery

Enjoy some photos of our teams in training!  Many thanks to LeAnn Fuller for granting the FSDS permission to use these lovely photos.

Abigail and Oliver Daisy and Indy Duke FB Advertizing (1 of 36) FB Advertizing (21 of 36) Indy Oliver

Sep 012017
Poodle Pup2

Building Bridges

From the start, the FSDS training program has set out to connect youths with military and first responders.  Our mission has been to recognize and reward those who have served the community, and to provide youths with opportunities to get to know these individuals and learn first hand the dangers of the job.  It has long been our belief that in order to stem the tide of violence against first responders, we must make efforts to reach out to our youths, and to help them to develop a healthy relationship with these individuals.  At no time in our history as a community has it ever been more important than now, as violence against first responders has risen sharply.  A recent article calls attention to the fact that police officer deaths have risen by almost 20% so far this year.  A quick visit to the Officer Down Memorial Page reveals that thus far in 2017 there have been 82 law enforcement professionals killed in the U.S. and it’s territories.

Violence against officers is just the start.  Violence against all first responders has been on the rise, and several states are just starting to enact laws that make assault against any first responder a felony offense.  For the first time, society is beginning to realize the dangers inherent for all first responders.  This type of behavior should not be tolerated.

The FSDS youth-based program is built around certain core values and beliefs:

  • Youths are capable of greatness and it is up to those responsible adults they interact with to help guide them
  • Our youths must be regarded as agents of positive change in society
  • Instilling in our youths a belief that community service is a desirable behavior is vital to our success as a society
  • Connecting youths with military and first responders and allowing them to work side by side builds strong bridges and inspires respect and cooperation
  • A life spent in service to others is a life well-lived

Our program continues to strive to nurture and support those youths who believe that their voice matters, and that they are never too young to make a real difference in our world.

Classroom News

Advanced Class – our newly promoted advanced class has entered the final phase of training, and has begun the task of teaching the dogs to perform those service-related skills that will specifically mitigate the disabilities for the handlers.  It is this specific task training that sets a SD apart from emotional support animals, therapy dogs and other dogs, under ADA law. Kudos to Zanna Fehr and her SDIT Duke for their excellent work this past month in navigating elevators.

Our program is designed in three phases, each phase 6 mths long.  Phase I teaches those critical basic obedience skills that set a foundation for future success.  Phase 2, the next 6 mths teaches public access appropriateness.  Phase 3 provides task specific training, as the dogs have now arrived at an age where they have the maturity to focus on these upper level tasks.  Our students have all accepted this new challenge and are off to a fine start.


Youth trainer Heather Vedeler and SDIT “JW”

Beginner Class – we are in the process of welcoming a new class, and have been fortunate to secure four beautiful puppies thus far.    We are also excited to welcome in some new student trainers.  We welcome back to our program Brianna Espinosa, who is currently fostering one of our new Golden Retriever pups.  We also welcome Heather Vedeler, pictured at right, who will be training a sweet and gentle Golden Retriever pup named “JW”.  Also joining our class will be Lindsey Carlson, a young woman who is currently being home-schooled.  Lindsey will soon receive one of our beautiful purebred Standard Poodles.  This year, for the first time, we are excited to be able to secure two such beautiful poodles from a reputable breeder as a hypoallergenic option for those with family members who may suffer from dog allergies.  More seats are available for local youths who are interested in participating.  If you are interested in enrolling your son or daughter in our program, please contact us for information.

Wellness Tip

Fall arrives later this month, and we are reminded that some Fall yard clean-up will be in order.  Summer monsoons bring with them an overgrowth of weeds, and these provide hiding places for snakes and other dangerous animals.  Here is AZ, as well as in other places in the nation, Fall brings a break in the hot weather and it an ideal time for dogs to get outside to run and play in the yard.  Remember to remove all possible hazards from the yard:

  • Ensure all gardening tools are out of reach
  • Rake up and remove any tall grass or piles of leaves where snakes or spiders can hide
  • If you are planning to put new mulch in your garden beds, avoid use of cocoa mulch as this can be toxic for dogs
  • Remove rock piles from the yard
  • Inform your pest control service that you have animals and ask them to use pet-friendly products
  • Keep all animals indoors for at least 24 hours after spraying pesticides or herbicides

With Appreciation

Our sincere thanks to those individuals who have generously donated to support the FSDS mission this past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Jessica Etheridge
  • Mark Fowler / AZ Alliance Traffic School
  • Disabled American Veterans

Upcoming Events

October 14th, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.: This fun and family friendly event is designed to promote public safety.  The FSDS will be on hand to provide information on service dogs as well as hands-on demonstrations on first aid and CPR.  The event will be held at the Pioneer Community Park located at 8755 N. 83rd Ave, Peoria AZ.

Photo Gallery

Enjoy some photos of the new puppies we have welcomed this past month for our upcoming class.

JW 4 mths JW day 3Poodle pup1Poodle Pup2Amanda and ShadowAmanda Jacob AbigailDaisy and IndyZanna and DukeAbigail and Oliver

Aug 012017

Seeking Puppies for New Class

We are beginning the task of searching for the right puppies for our training program.   If you are a breeder, or know of a breeder who will have a litter of Golden Retrievers or Lab Retrievers (prefer yellow labs) please contact us.  The ideal puppy will come with:

  • AKC papers; we are not seeking breeding privileges
  • OFA certifications for both the dam and sire
  • Up to date on puppy vaccines
  • No history of hip dysplasia or genetic diseases in the bloodline for at least the prior three generations
  • Prefer dew claws removed
  • Gentle temperament for dam and sire
  • Puppies should be well- socialized by breeder
  • Breeder should have plan in place to minimize risk of parvovirus

Puppies should be ready to be re-homed at approximately 8 weeks of age.  We are also seeking individuals who are interested in fostering a puppy prior to their placement with a trainer.  For more information, please contact us.

Classroom News

Advanced Class – It is official – the former beginner class has been promoted to the advanced class as of July 29th.  Congratulations to all of our hard working teams.  During this final stage of training, the teams will be working on mastering the task specific skills that qualify the team as a SD team under ADA law.

New Class for the Fall – Yes – applications to receive a SD from our training program are being received, and a new class is planned for this Fall.  For those interested, we are accepting applications from:

  • Individuals who wish to learn to train a SD for someone with a disability
  • Individuals who are in need of a SD to assist them

If you have resided in AZ for at least the past year, you are eligible to apply for assistance from our program.  For more information and to download a copy of our application packet, visit our apply for a dog page on our website.

Graduation 2017

Another graduation has come and gone, and we are so proud of all of our recent graduates.  Our hearty congratulations to our recent graduates:

  • The Foundation for Service Dog Support

    Congratulations to our 2017 graduate recipients and student trainers

    Sharon Richter and Nahla

  • Tim Smith and Zazu
  • Sam Webb and Doug
  • Jacob Cosper and Sully
  • Grace Ganahl and Teddy

And our student trainers…

  • Jolie Jendry
  • Amanda Van Asdall
  • Brianna Espinosa
  • Tim Wiley
  • Deb Hoffman

Congratulations are also in order for the class of 2018, recently promoted to advanced class:

  • Pearl Willis – student trainer and SDIT Adara
  • Adam Croner – military veteran / recipient
  • Amanda Van Asdall – student trainer who has joined this class to train dog #3 for the FSDS with SDIT Shadow
  • Abigail Van Asdall – student trainer and SDIT Oliver
  • Adam Sierra – police officer and SDIT Jax
  • Lanitta Richter – alternate handler
  • Wife of military veteran / name withheld upon request
  • Zanna Fehr – recipient and SDIT Duke
  • Daisy Saenz and SDIT Indy

Wellness Tip

Each year during the monsoon season, the problem with toads here in AZ becomes are more prominent issue.  We remind our readers that toad venom is toxic for dogs .  In Arizona, the Colorado River Toad commonly comes out once the sun goes down.  They can be found near a back porch with a light on (to catch and eat bugs that are attracted to the light).  Any dog that is let out into the yard to potty in the evening, and catches a toad in their mouth can be poisoned.  Also, toads that get into the water dish can secrete venom causing illness and in some cases death to a dog.  Some steps you can take to keep your dog safe include:

  • Do not leave food or water dishes outdoors for your dog
  • Leave the porch light out by the door you use to take your dog out to potty at night, turn it on only when ready to go outdoors
  • Stick your head out the door to check for toads prior to letting your dog outdoors
  • Supervise your dog at all times when outdoors

Many Thanks To…

We wish to express our sincere appreciation to the following individuals for their generous support of our program this past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Cynthia Traylor
  • Shaleese McPhee – in memory of Jennifer Robinson
  • Barbara Ruga
  • Rob and Mary Young
  • Nicole Hess – in memory of Jennifer Robinson

A very special thanks to all who donated items for the silent auction.  We are pleased to announce that this event was a huge success, thanks to the involvement of so many.

Upcoming Events

TBA – stay tuned

Photo Gallery

Enjoy these photos from our July 29th graduation ceremony.  We note with deep appreciation that the photo above and the final 5 photos in the photo gallery were provided by professional photographer Jonny Stalnake.  He very generously volunteered his professional services this year to photograph the event for us, and even offered sittings for all of our teams.  Many thanks to Jonny for his generosity.

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The Foundation for Service Dog Support

The Foundation for Service Dog Support

The Foundation for Service Dog Support

The Foundation for Service Dog Support

The Foundation for Service Dog Support



Jul 012017

A Message to Students, Parents and Graduates

Each year we have the privilege of graduating a new class, and this presents a wonderful opportunity for all of us at the FSDS to pause and recognize the efforts of all.  This year, we note that all of the teens training dogs for someone in need are young women.

To the parents of our student trainers – we wish to thank you for your support and your willingness to allow your daughter to participate in our training program.  Thank you for accepting a SDIT into your home and allowing them to be a part of your family over the past 18 months.  Thank you for feeding, sheltering and loving our dogs.  Thank you for driving your daughters back and forth to classes each week, and to field trips and FSDS sponsored public events.  Thank you for your unwavering support of our mission.

To our graduating recipients – please accept this gift of a certified SD along with our thanks for your services and sacrifices to our community.  To our military and first responders, how can we ever truly thank you enough for sacrificing your lives for our sake?  The gift of a certified service dog is all we can offer, and we remain eternally grateful to you.  For those who have earned their dogs through our Pawsitive Community Program, it is our hope that this opportunity for you to serve your community has sparked a fire inside of each of you, prompting you to continue to serve the community in the years to come.

To our graduating student trainers – words can not express just how proud we are of each of you.  You represent not only the hopes and dreams of those who are the recipients of your kindness today, but the hopes and dreams for the future of our community as well.  You stand as role models and inspirations to all youths in our nation.  As you continue your journey in life take this advice with you:

  • Work as hard as you can as long as you can, do as much as you can for as many as you can.
  • Be certain of who you are and what you stand for, then STAND for what is right!
  • Be kind, fair and honest in all dealings.
  • Become good at what you do; but remember that being a good person while you are doing it is even more important.
  • Always treat others as if they are your own family; treat others as you would want to be treated.
  • Get involved; choose to be part of a solution rather than part of a problem.
  • Remember that what you do becomes who you are; take pride in all you do.

Know that in your short lives, you have already done more good for the world than many adults will do in a lifetime.  Your hard work has left a permanent and positive mark in the world, and this is only the start of many wonderful things to come.

Sending your beloved dog to their recipient to begin their working life will be as difficult for you as it will be for your parents to send you off to college and out into the working world one day.  Remember that you are forever connected and just as one day you will come home to visit your parents, visits with your dog are also possible.  Maintain a close relationship with your recipients and learn from what they have to teach you about what it means to serve.

To each of you: you are an amazing and unique person and great things are in store for you.  We love you.

Oliver TP

“You did say it was playtime, right?”

Classroom News

Beginner Class – this class is putting the finishing touches on CGC testing and we are anticipating good news in the near future.  After many months of hard work, this hard working class will be promoted to the advanced class during the graduation ceremony.  Awards for accomplishments to date will be presented.  Kudos to all.

Advanced Class – this class will take their final certification test just prior to graduation later this month.  Congratulations on all for a job well done.

Kudos to our four teams who attended the Graduation Party sponsored by CR Bard employees: Sharon Richter and SDIT Nala, Amanda Van Asdall, Sam Webb and SDIT “Doug”, Brianna Espinosa,Tim Smith and SDIT “Zazu”, and Abigail Van Asdall and SDIT Oliver.


The much anticipated graduation event will be held on July 29th at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix North.  Advanced ticket purchase is required as we must know in advance how many attendees to expect so that we may inform the caterer. If you are unable to attend but would like to purchase a ticket to be used as a complimentary ticket for our military veterans and wounded first responders, this will be greatly appreciated. Please contact our Event Planner for further information.   Tickets are NOT available for purchase at the door.

  • Starting time:  The ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. sharp
  • Doors Open:  9 a.m. for silent auction viewing and bidding
  • Ending Time:  1:30 p.m.

A catered lunch will be provided.

SILENT AUCTION – this year for the first time we will have a silent auction, and thanks to the generosity of many individuals and businesses here in the community we have some amazing items up for auction.  Please note that cash will not be accepted, nor will we be able to process credit or debit card payments.  Please bring a check with you for the purposes of payment.

Many thanks to the generosity of the community we are excited to announce an impressive array of items for bidding, including: a family four pack for Phoenix Zoo with gift store items, Golf Foursome Certificate from Orange Tree Golf Club in Scottsdale, (2) admission passes to the beautiful Desert Botanical Garden, a one year membership to the Senita Club of the Desert Botanical Garden, a very large autographed poster of Shaquille O’Neal, custom beaded dog collars with matching leads – perfect to reward the canine graduate on your list, jewelry and more.

Once again this year Donna Rossi from Channel 5 will be on hand to Emcee our event.  Her kindness and caring over the years is gratefully appreciated.  Donna has a heart for those who have served, and has served as a wonderful inspiration to our youth trainers.  We are looking forward to her participation.

Our keynote speaker for this year is Dr. Margaret Brown, an accomplished research scientist, military veteran, VA physician, world traveler and humanitarian.  As the wife of a SD handler, she is a staunch advocate for those with SDs in our community.  We are privileged and humbled to have Dr. Brown as our keynote speaker this year.

Wellness Tip

The heat is on in many parts of the nation, and in particular for the desert southwest.  June saw record breaking temperatures as high as 120 degrees.  Yes, we do have three temperature settings here in AZ – hot, scorching and VOLCANIC!  This past month was certainly volcanic!   It is important to remember that dogs are susceptible to heat stroke, and care must be taken to protect your furry friends.  Some safety tips for the heat include:

  • walk your dog early in the morning only
  • always have plenty of cold water on hand for them to drink
  • do not leave your dog outdoors
  • make certain that you have thermal working booties for your dog to prevent them from sustaining burns to the pads of their paws from hot pavement

It is a good rule of thumb that when you consider going outdoors, remove your shoe or sandal and place your own foot on the pavement.  If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your dog and you must put booties on your dog.

Be safe, have a happy July 4th.

With Sincere Thanks

We wish to thank the following individuals and groups for their generous donations during the month of June:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • CR Bard Foundation
  • John Van Vleet
  • Glenda Wilson
  • Kristen Nedoba
  • The employees of CR Bard, Inc.

We note with great appreciation that not only did the CR Bard Foundation award a generous grant, but the employees of CR Bard also sponsored a graduation party for our teams, providing an impressive array of gifts to help transition the service dogs from their trainers to the new recipients.

Upcoming Events

July 7 – July 8:  AZ Families for Home Education (AFHE) Conference, Phoenix Convention center, South Bldg, 33 S. 3rd St., Phoenix, AZ ; the FSDS will be on hand at booth #1209 to invite youths and families to participate in our youth training program.

July 29: Graduation 2017; 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix No., 10220 N Metro Pkwy E, Phoenix, AZ

Photo Gallery

Enjoy some photos of our teams at work during the month of June!  When not actively engaged in training exercises, the dogs enjoy time relaxing with their families, riding the light rail and attending college classes.

adara frisbee adara hose adara lightrail adara training class adara pearl adara shadow abby ollie ahoy doug bff doug oliver doug college doug midwestern Happy DougIMG_7979IMG_7984IMG_7986swim dateIMG_7962IMG_7965IMG_7968


Jun 012017

Preparing for Natural Disasters

Summer officially begins later this month, and with it comes the threat of natural disasters for many across the U.S.  Hurricane and monsoon season start in June and wildfires are already on the rise.  Tornado activity has been increasing, and already in 2017 there have been 34 deaths in the U.S.  Of those 34 deaths, 19 (54%)  of these were individuals who were in a manufactured home.  All SD handles need to be aware of the risks in their region and have an emergency response plan in place to ensure the safety of their team.   This plan should include signing up for emergency notifications for warning of tornadoes or other events, and an evacuation plan.  The following steps should be taken into account for evacuation:

  • If the evacuation plan is to a storm shelter such as in a basement, then you must ensure that any family members with disabilities must be able to retreat there in the event that they are alone when the warning is issued.  Ensure that the SD can also make it down into the shelter.  Ladders are not accessible for dogs, and an alternate plan must be in place to lower the dog safely into the shelter.
  • In the event of a fire evacuation, ensure that all papers regarding health care and vaccination are stored on a Drive that is accessible by mobile device; in the event that a rapid evacuation must take place then all important papers for your dog must be retrievable to assure the workers at the evacuation shelter that your dog is indeed a service dog AND is up to date on all vaccines and preventive treatments.
  • Store all medications and medical records for both humans and dogs in one location, preferable in a box for each so that if time permits, the boxes can be accessed easily and packed into a car.
  • If you reside in a multi-story building, ensure that an evacuation plan is in place for those with disabilities and SDs in the event that stairway access is not an option.
  • Designate a meeting place so that in the event your family is separated, or if you are evacuated from different locations you will know where to meet up with family.
  • Practice, practice, practice in advance!  The start of each season is an ideal time to have an evacuation drill.

Remember not to wait until the last minute – if you are placed on evacuation alert then gather up your things and get to safety before the roads become impassable.  Do not attempt to “ride out” a natural disaster, as this places your team, your family, and the emergency first responders in your area in jeopardy.

Stay safe and have an enjoyable summer.

Classroom News

bill sully kiss

Military veteran Bill Riley and SDIT Sully take time to cuddle.

Beginner Class – this past month the class has been focusing on areas students still needed practice with their SDIT: Reaction to another dog, leash manners.  Excitement runs high as they enter their final preparations for the CGC test and the upcoming graduation in July.  When the advanced class graduates as certified teams, this class will be promoted to the advanced class.  If you see them out and about in public, please stop to offer them a few words of encouragement.

Advanced Class – this class has been refining service skills, including picking up dropped items, finding items, alerting to medical needs, opening doors.  Recipients have received additional practice doing some basic obedience with student handlers at a further distance.  Our wonderful group of teen student-handlers mentored their recipients through training exercises by standing across the room while recipients did some 30-foot sit and down stays using a long-line.  The student-handlers then left the room (watching around the corner), returning every 30 seconds to 1 minute to help instruct the recipients on how to solidify their down-stay out of sight skills.  The class is preparing for their final certification test that will take place next month.


Each year we have the privilege of graduating a new class of certified SD teams. Graduation day is a special time for all and this is a wonderful time for all of our readers to come out and meet us, and say a personal thank you to our deserving recipients for their service to our community and our nation.  We are honored to have Dr. Margaret Brown as our keynote speaker this year.  Dr. Brown is a military veteran, having served as a commissioned medical officer with the Marines.   She has traveled the world, is an accomplished research scientist and currently works at the Tucson VA Hospital caring for other wounded military.  She dreams of serving with Doctor’s Without Borders upon retirement.  Returning for her second year to Emcee this event will be Donna Rossi from Channel 5.  Donna began her career as a Phoenix Police Officer and has worked hard to bring to light issues surrounding wounded first responders.

This year graduation tickets will be only $50 each, and this includes a catered meal.   Tickets must be paid in advance and will not be sold at the door.  If you wish to purchase tickets for yourself, or complimentary tickets to be used for a recipient or student trainer, please contact us to learn more.

Training Tip

School is out in many parts of the nation, and this means vacation for some teams.  We remind our teams to contact any friends or family members in advance of a visit to make certain that they, and any small children, are aware of SD etiquette rules prior to your visit.

Teach friends and family to be “dog smart” when greeting a dog for the first time.  Did you know that dogs communicate through body language, and looking a dog in the eye and approaching fast is viewed as a sign of human aggression by dogs.  Small children who may be on eye level with a dog need special assistance to greet to avoid a fear response from the dog.

A small child should be held by an adult.  Turn sideways, avoid direct eye contact with the dog and hold out their hand palm up.  Let the dog come to you to sniff first.  Adults and children alike should be instructed to resist the temptation to rush up to your furry companion, throw their arms around their neck and hug and kiss them!  Remember that when it comes to new introductions, slow is fast!

Wellness / Safety Tip

If you plan to allow your dog to be in or on the water this summer, make certain that you provide them with a well fitted, suitable life jacket. This is a good idea if you have a pool, plan to visit a lake or will be boating.  FSDS certified teams are entitled to a 50% discount at Ruffwear.com , and you can contact us to learn more.


jolie graduation

Jolie Jendry and Sully

Please join us in congratulating student trainer Jolie Jendry on her recent HS graduation.  Jolie is raising SDIT “Sully” for military veteran Bill Riley.  This is the second dog that Jolie has trained for the FSDS.  Jolie has a bright future and we are so proud of her. She and Sully walked together in graduation and it was a special day for all.

A Warm Welcome

We wish to extend a very warm welcome to our newest student trainer Brianna Calvin.  Brianna is a local HS student and will take over the training of  SDIT Shadow, who was being trained by one of our military veterans for his own needs.  Due to medical issues, assistance was needed in completing the training for him.  When Brianna learned of the situation, she stepped up to the plate and offered to assist.  It is heartwarming for us to see our young teens demonstrating such respect and appreciation for those who have served.

Thank You

Our sincere thanks to the following individuals who have donated so generously to our program this past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Armed Forces Support Group of Sun City Grand
  • Arizona Disabled Veteran Foundation

Upcoming Events

June 9 – Community presentation in Scottsdale, AZ

June 21st at 2pm CR Graduation Party for our students, open to CR Bard Employees who will be collecting gifts and showing up to honor our graduates and say thank you to them for their services to our community.

July 7 – July 8:  AZ Families for Home Education (AFHE) Conference, Phoenix Convention center, South Bldg, 33 S. 3rd St., Phoenix, AZ ; the FSDS will be on hand at booth #1209 to invite youths and families to participate in our youth training program.

July 29: Graduation 2017; 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix No., 10220 N Metro Pkwy E, Phoenix, AZ

Photo Gallery

This past month the classes took a combined field trip.  After a ride on the light rail, they visited the AZ Science Center, where the dogs practiced performing tasks while faced with sensory stimulation and unusual sights and sounds.

bill and sully cb6 smell the flowerscb1cb2cb3cb4cb5cb6cb7cb8cb9Pearl and AdaraPearl and Amandascary hatsharon crutcheschurch shadowsully bottlesully car


May 012017

A New Era in Training

On June 1st the FSDS will launch the new SD Trainer Academy.  Last month we outlined how the program is constructed.  This month, we take a closer look at the intent of the program and what we hope to accomplish.

A Holistic Approach

While most other canine training programs offer education in canine skill training, behavior and the basics of canine care, we have taken this a step further.  It is our belief that programs that focus all of their attention solely on the dog fall short in helping new trainers develop the skills needed to be truly effective.  We realize that when approaching canine training, you have two students to consider- the dog and their human.  Let’s face it- the dog will not be the one to contact you and sign up.

When approaching SD training, this issue of training the humans is further complicated by the fact that as opposed to a general obedience class, a SD class will exclusively contain a population of humans with varying levels of ability and disability.  For many, the issues of chronic pain, PTSD, polypharmacy and such will impose secondary learning challenges for the humans.  Since a SD trainer relies on the human to go home and be in charge of the training during the intervening time between classes, addressing the learning challenges is critical to success.  An entirely different approach must be taken to education.

Ask any experienced teacher and they will tell you that teaching is a specialized skill set.  We believe that there are three developmental tasks for our students as they progress through their journey to become competent SD trainers:

  • know what you do not know
  • learn how to learn
  • teach how to teach

Our Academy is designed to move students through this process and help them to develop those skills needed to become proficient trainers who are able to address the myriad needs of both dogs and humans.

Dog Training vs Management

It is our belief that unless a trainer fully understands what is required to keep their business up and running, they will not be successful.  The dog training that goes on inside of the classroom is typically the “easy part” of the job.  It is what goes on behind the scenes in preparation for the lessons, and to manage the business that occupies most of the time and energy of the trainer.  While most programs do not provide instruction on how to start and manage a business or how to organize instructional materials into a comprehensive and logical curriculum, we have taken considerable time to address these issues.  Students who graduate from the FSDS Academy will leave with a clear understanding of what is required for them to be effective managers.

Depending on which statistics you read and how they go about data collection, most are in general agreement that that for the average small business, only approximately 1/3 will survive to the 10 year mark.  This is a sobering number, and one that all new trainers need to be aware of.  It is a goal of our Academy that our trainers will graduate with the skills needed to start, maintain and grow a successful training business.

Classroom Management

Young trainers who are starting out may face a “playing field” that is not level with regard to their students.  A SD program tends to run the gamut from young people to adults; from little education to those with doctorate degrees; and those who are starting out in life to those who are retired and have extensive life and work experience above and beyond that of the trainer.  It is important for all trainers, and especially those who are starting out, to understand how to effectively manage a diverse classroom.  Just as a SD handler must be the leader of their team, so must a trainer be the leader of their class.  Students who attend the FSDS Academy will receive the necessary instruction on classroom management to leave them feeling confident and competent in any situation.

How to apply – we have been encouraged by the number of requests for applications we have received since last month, and urge those interested in a career in SD training to learn more.  Click here to request an application packet.

Graduation Needs

For the many of you who come out faithfully to celebrate graduation with us each year, we remind you that this year graduation will be on July 29th, not in May as in prior years.  Please mark this on your calendar.

Graduation is a joyous time, and a time for us all to be reminded of the plight of all of our deserving heroes who have risked their lives to protect us both abroad and here at home.  Each year, we turn to our readers to invite you to help us support those in need.  This year, we have some specific needs for graduation:

  • purchase of comp tickets for graduates and their families ($50 each) or a table of 10 for $500
  • donations of items for a silent auction
  • donations of gift cards for pet retail stores
  • donations of money to allow us to provide working equipment for the graduating dogs including booties, vests, harnesses and collars / leads

A graduation is costly, but we believe that this is a necessary event for all.  For the extraordinary teens who have devoted the last 18 months of their lives to raise a SD for someone in need, this provides closure and helps them to move on.  For those who will receive a SD from our program, this is a validation that their services, and ultimate physical challenges, are recognized and appreciated.

We ask that our readers join us in rewarding the hard work and dedication of our program participants by helping us to make graduation a special time for all.

Classroom News

Puppy Class:  In April the class took a field trip to Target and local parks to start training for Public Access Testing (PAT) and have received lots of compliments from customers as the class worked their way through the store.  They will be taking practice tests next Saturday.  They have also been working on “go get help” this past month.     Students got to practice answering questions from the public and educating them.  Everyone did great!  The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) will be taken next month.   Zanna Fehr and Duke are to be commended for their work this past month- they have made huge gains in mastering their CGC skills. Kudos also to Daisy Saenz and Indy for their outstanding gains in mastering obedience skills.   If you encounter our teams when you are out in public, please take the time to stop and let them know their good work is appreciated.

Advanced class:  This class also took a field trip to Target and other locations to practice for the final certification test.  Phenomenal leave-its were demonstrated.  The teams are building confidence for service skills in public areas.  Lots of bonding between recipients and student trained dogs.  The recipients handled the dogs the entire day on this field trip while student-handlers stepped back and gave verbal guidance and support.  Lovely to see students growing into the leaders of tomorrow.   This sort of reciprocal mentoring between student trainers and recipients is one of the things that has made our program special.  Tim Smith and Zazu have also done an outstanding job with working in public with distractions.  Special congratulations to Amanda Van Asdall and “Doug” and Bill Riley and “Sully” for their outstanding work over the past month.

Wellness Tip

We would like to take the opportunity to inform our readers of the many pet food recalls that have been issued thus far in 2017.  It appears that many different brands are processed at the same plant, leading to multiple recalls for the same issues.  Though some recalls are for concerns of food poisoning, there are been an excess of notable recalls for:

  • pentobarbitol contamination – this is a drug used for euthanasia
  • shards of metal fragments in the food

We urge all readers to sign up to receive pet food recall notices.  It appears that most of these recalls are for canned food.  Please take this into consideration when making decisions to select can food vs kibble for your dog’s dietary needs.  Consult with your veterinarian for any questions or need for advice.

A warm welcome

We are pleased to welcome two new military families to our program this past month.  A warm welcome to:

  • Catherine Teel
  • Jacob Cosper

A special thank you

Our sincere thanks to the following individuals for their generous financial support:

  • Larry and Gail Freels
  • Valerie Schluter

Many thanks to Ofc. Frank Marino from the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association for lending his voice and expertise to our efforts to provide education regarding police officers and PTSD.  We recently turned to Frank for input into the educational materials to be used for the SD Trainer Academy.  Frank was all too happy to take time out from his very busy schedule to provide excellent insight, which has been incorporated into our training.  PLEA has been supportive of FSDS programs and community education efforts over the years and we appreciate their involvement.  Four paws up!

A very special thanks to Sharon Richter for taking over managing the FSDS social media accounts.  Many of you have already responded to some of her recent posts, and we are so looking forward to enjoying her updates.

Upcoming Events

June 9 – Community presentation in Scottsdale, AZ

July 7 – July 8:  AZ Families for Home Education (AFHE) Conference, Phoenix Convention center, South Bldg, 33 S. 3rd St., Phoenix, AZ ; the FSDS will be on hand at booth #1209 to invite youths and families to participate in our youth training program.

July 29: Graduation 2017; 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix No., 10220 N Metro Pkwy E, Phoenix, AZ

Photo Gallery

adara lani and amanda adara stand adara bill riley class photo daisy and indy daisy indy duke pet sully and billl take it oliver teddy zanna and duke zazu

Mar 312017

SD Trainer Academy to Open June 1st

We are excited to announce the opening of new SD Trainer Academy as of June 1st this year.  This program is designed to provide the training necessary for individuals to become qualified SD trainers.  This program will run under the auspices of our outreach services,  and represents our continued commitment to provide credible SD training and certification to teams in all geographic locations.

In 2009, the FSDS piloted the first youth-based training program of its kind, coupling the education of youths with an ability to provide certified SDs to those in need.  Over the years, the program has evolved and gained popularity.  In January of 2016 this program was expanded to become a community-based training program, allowing any individual with a desire to acquire SD training skills to enroll.  Under this model, the program involved completion of didactic education via our online SD 101 course, and 18 months of hands on skills training in the classroom.  Additionally, individuals who graduated from our program were eligible to apply for a position with a pathway to advance from Intern (Novice) to Jr. and Sr. Instructor.  Thus, this offering represented a pilot program with a plan for future expansion.

This pathway was only available, however, to local residents who had attended our classes.  Additionally, students were not permitted to intern with us until their 18th birthday.  Another of our goals was to open up opportunities for youths as young as 15, so that they may work to acquire marketable skills during the time that they are in high school.

This model has worked well, but we felt that there were some pieces still missing.  For example, a canine training business is just that…it is a business, and students require training to understand some basic rules of set-up and operation.  Education on disabilities and accommodation, classroom management, teaching skills at each level and program administration were also needed.  Our goal throughout this pilot has been to fine-tune services, and expand to allow individuals to enroll, regardless of our location.  In fact, encouraging those in remote locations is critical for us, as these remote areas are currently without any credible SD training services, leaving individuals with disabilities residing in rural or remote locations without access to the training they require.

Program Design

This program will take the average individual two years to complete.  Divided into 4 semesters, there is a requirement for completion of 3 comprehensive online courses as well as 75 hours of hands-on training at each level.  Students may elect to stop at any level, but are encouraged to earn all four levels:

  • Novice Instructor
  • Jr. Instructor
  • Sr. Instructor
  • Master Instructor

We permit students to complete their intern hours with any trainer in the nation enrolled in the FSDS Outreach Evaluator network.  If an instructor in your area is not a member of our network, they may contact us to determine eligibility.  Contact a trainer in your area to inquire about an internship.

If you would like more information about enrollment in our Academy, please click here to request information.

Classroom News

This past month our classes combined to take a group field trip to the Pawsability Patch in Glendale, AZ  This was a fun way for the classes to connect and socialize the dogs, while teaching valuable skills.  Our SDs learned how to work with distractions, accept and navigate new obstacles, maintain a good heel around distractions, and even how to board a boat!  See photo gallery for some fun photos.

CB6 Advanced Class – this class is hard at work on upper level SD skills, such as working in public with distractions, “go get help” and “item differentiation”.  Kudos to Bill Riley and his SDIT “Sully” for outstanding work this past month.  A very special thanks goes out to student trainer Jolie Jendry, who houses and trains Sully during the week.  A special thanks also to our sister team of student trainers, Amanda Van Asdall / SDIT Doug and Abigail Van Asdall /SDIT  Oliver for their outstanding job in representing the FSDS at the recent Armed Forces Support Group Tournament.

CB7 Beginner Class – this class has completed their basic obedience training this week and is now at work to prepare for the upcoming Canine Good Citizen test this summer.  The teams are working on skills such as “greeting a friendly stranger” and “greeting a strange dog”.

Many thanks to CB6 team Sharon Richter and “Nahla” and CB7 team Adam Croner and “Shadow” for representing us so well at the Westbrook Village Car Show.

Free Eye Exams for Service Dogs

For the 10th consecutive year, AVCO and Stokes Rx are sponsoring the Free Eye Exams for Service Animals program.  This wonderful program provides free eye exams for service dogs.  Registration  for exams is open during the entire month of April, and the exams will take place in May.  Qualifications can be located on their website, and SDITs will qualify only if they are enrolled in a formal training program, such as the FSDS.  Spaces may be limited, so we urge all of our teams to call immediately to schedule an appointment for May.  Kudos to AVCO and Stokes Rx for providing this valuable service to SD teams across the nation.

Please visit the AVCO / Stokes Rx web page for more information.

Wellness Tip

It is Spring!  The flowers are in bloom, and animals are coming out of hibernation.  This can be an exciting time of year, but also presents some dangers to your pets or SDs.  Here are some facts and tips for you to know:

  • Many plants can be toxic to animals, most notably Oleander, ferns, ivy, any plant with thorns…and a long list of others.  Take inventory of what is growing in your yard.  Consider removal of any toxic plant to safeguard your animals.
  • Snakes are coming out of hibernation, and Spring is the most dangerous time of year for a snakebite.  The snakes are relatively dehydrated, making the venom more concentrated and toxic.  Remove tall grass, wood or rock piles, and inspect your yard before you let your animals out to play.
  • When out walking, stick to paths, wear proper footwear and never permit your dog to stray off the path to sniff around.

Thank You!

We wish to express our sincere thanks to the following individuals / groups who have generously donated to support our programs and services.

  • Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club
  • Valerie Schluter
  • Thunderbird Automotive
  • Thomas and Lois Smith
  • Stan Vanpeursem
  • Dorothy Ritz
  • Sarah S. Lawrence
  • Christine P. Falasco
  • Nancy Scimeca
  • Dwain Carson
  • Norman Palmer
  • Martin Chorzempa

Upcoming Events

July 29 – Annual FSDS SD Graduation at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix North, 10220 N. Metro Pkwy. E. , Phoenix, AZ; come celebrate with us as we graduate another class of SD teams and student trainers.  Tickets are $50 each and include a catered meal.  Contact Gary Noble for information on obtaining tickets, or sponsoring a deserving hero.

Photo Gallery

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