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 , 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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Mar 012017

 Staying Informed

This past month there have been several issues concerning the safety of all dogs that we wish to bring to the attention of our readers.

Pet Food Recalls – Since the start of this year, there have been 7 pet food recalls, an amount that is more than double the number of recalls seen at this time last year.  It is important to stay informed about recalls and exercise caution in the selection of a diet for your dog.  Current recalls are posted on the FDA website, and we urge all of our readers to stay abreast of this information.  Petful advisor cautions that several brands may be processed at the same facility, more recalls are certain to follow.  Most notably, recalls were made for concerns of Pentobarbitol (a euthanasia drug) as well as metal fragments in the dog food.  There has been at least one death reported due to the Pentobarbitol.  Canned (wet) foods are most frequently involved.  If you are concerned about potential risks for your dog, you are encouraged to speak with your veterinarian for advice.  The pet foods recalled thus far according to the FDA include:

  • February 14, 2017 Against The Grain Pet Food Voluntarily Recalls One Lot of Pulled Beef Due to Potential Adulteration with Pentobarbital
  • February 09, 2017 PetSmart Voluntarily Recalls Single Lot of Great Choice® Canned Dog Food Due to Possible Health Risk
  • February 03, 2017 Evanger’s Voluntarily Recalls Hunk of Beef Because Of Pentobarbital Exposure in one Batch of Food
  • January 13, 2017 Blue Ridge Beef Recalls Product Because of Possible Health Risk
  • January 13, 2017 Grange Co-Op Recalls Rogue All Purpose Rabbit Pellets For High Vitamin D Health Risk
  • January 06, 2017 The J.M. Smucker Company Expands Limited Voluntary Recall on Certain Lots of Canned Cat Food Due to Low Levels of Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
  • January 03, 2017 The J.M. Smucker Company Announces a Limited Voluntary Recall on Certain Lots of Canned Cat Food Due to Low Levels of Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

Leptospirosis – be advised that there has been an increase in cases of Leptospirosis (Lepto) reported in dogs here in Arizona.  Thus far in Arizona, the Department of Agriculture has reportedly identified 40 cases.  This is a bacterial illness that is most often spread through contact with farm animals, rodents, wild animals or other dogs, but it may also be contracted from exposure from contaminated water in rivers and lakes, or on hiking trails.  Lepto can be spread to humans as well.

The signs and symptoms of Lepto vary widely.  Some dogs show no symptoms at all, others show minor symptoms including fever, muscle tenderness and GI upset, while others develop severe symptoms and death may occur.  There is a vaccine available to protect against this illness.  We recommend the following for all dog owners, and particularly for service dog handlers:

  • speak with your veterinarian about vaccination and preventive strategies
  • make certain that your dog has protective booties when near possible sources of contamination
  • avoid exposing your dog to farm animals or other dogs with unknown vaccination status
  • supervise your dog when outdoors at all times, and regularly inspect your yard for evidence of rodents
  • be vigilant for signs that your dog is not feeling well and call your veterinarian early for advice

Classroom News

CB6 – our advanced class is hard at work on specific tasks to mitigate disabilities of the intended recipient.  Kudos to Amanda Van Asdall and her SDIT “Doug” as well as Brianna Espinosa and her SDIT “Zazu” for mastering the ability to go to the kitchen to open or close cabinet doors.

CB7 –  our beginner class successfully completed their canine FA and CPR certification this month.  Kudos to our youth trainers from the advanced class who assistant taught, earning their Jr. Safety Instructor credentials.  These teen trainers are Amanda Van Asdall, Brianna Espinosa, and Grace Ganahl.  Congratulations!  Special thanks to our classroom aide Sharon Richter, who is volunteering to earn her community service hours for her own SD under our Pawsitive Community Program.  Sharon consistently goes above and beyond to help out, she is always positive and inspire others.  Keep up the good work.   Mention must also be made for Zanna Fehr and her SDIT “Duke” as well as Samantha Aguilar and her SDIT “Adara”, who are doing excellent work with loose leash walking.

Coming Soon – Service Dog Trainer Academy

Be on the lookout in the months to come.  Over the past 9 years, the FSDS training program has coupled the provision of instruction to those who wish to acquire SD training skills to the provision of services to those in need of service dogs.  The program has evolved and the interest in the “train the trainer” aspect of our program continues to grow.  Plans are underway to expand our ability to provide training to those who wish to become skilled obedience / service dog trainers. While other canine obedience training schools focus solely on obedience training, the FSDS program will provide the student with the skills to train at all levels from puppy to service dog.

Training has been expanded to also include education on how to start and operate your own training business.  We feel that this will be particularly suited not only for youths who are setting out to make a career of training, but also for our wounded military, first responders and others who have been forced into medical retirement and are seeking employment opportunities that they will have some more control over.  We recognize that job seeking when you are partnered with a SD is challenging, and an environment such as a canine training business can offer flexible solutions and a path to independence.  Stay tuned.

Wellness Tip

During the winter months, rattlesnakes typically hibernate.  They emerge, most commonly, in the months of March or April when the average temperatures are greater than or equal to 60 degrees.  It is therefore a good idea at this time to walk your property and remove any potential hazards.  Ensure that there are not piles of rocks, tall grasses or untrimmed bushes where snakes may hide.  Some helpful tips for safety are:

  • inspect your yard before letting your dogs outside to play
  • walk on established paths only, and not through tall grassy areas
  • when opening the door to let your dogs out to potty, peek outside first to ensure that there are no snakes
  • check your garage before taking your dog out to put them in the car, snakes sometimes find their way into garages
  • if you are uncertain if a snake is poisonous or not, treat it as if it is!

Donations Sought for Silent Auction

The FSDS is seeking donations for a silent auction event to be held at the graduation this July.  Some examples of suitable items are:

  • products or services from local businesses
  • time share usage
  • unique hand-crafted items from local artisans
  • tickets to sporting events or theater

Individuals who are interested in making a tax deductible donation may contact Gary Noble for more information.

Thank You

We wish to express our sincere thanks to the following individuals for their generous donations to support our service dog training program:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Barry MacKean and Teresa Ledzinski
  • Martin Chorzempa

We wish to express our ongoing thanks to the following for their long-term support of the FSDS training program:

  • Dr. KC Wright at the Apollo Animal Hospital in Glendale, AZ.  Since 2009, Dr. Wright has provided the highest quality of care for the service dogs enrolled in our training program, and has waived the cost for all office fees.
  • Phoenix Police Department for allowing us use of classroom space at a local precinct

Volunteers Needed

The FSDS is looking for a videographer.  We seek the participation of someone with skills needed to assist the FSDS in filming training videos to benefit future students.  We are also seeking the services of a graphic designer who is interested in some small projects such as designing certificates for students.  If you are interested in assisting us, please contact Dr. B for more information.

Upcoming Events

July 29th – FSDS Graduation, details TBA

Photo Gallery

Enjoy these photos from February of classroom training, as well as a Car Show sponsored by the Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club.  This event was to benefit the FSDS training program, and we are so grateful for this type of support.  A great time was had by all.

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Feb 012017

Classifications of Working Dogs

Each month we receive numerous requests from individuals who are working to understand the differences between classifications for working dogs.  We take time this month to provide information to assist those who are at work to determine the type of dog that will best meet their needs.

Working dogs– this term loosely applies to all dogs who work to provide any type of service.  Examples of different types of working dogs includes but is not limited to the following:

  • arson dogs
  • drug / bomb sniffing dogs
  • military dogs
  • therapy dogs
  • facility dogs
  • service dogs
  • emotional support dogs

Service dogs –  while other types of dogs have public access to only those places where they are required to work, service dogs are the only category of working dogs that are entitled to public access in all places of business where their handlers frequent.  The Department of Justice defines as service dog as:

“…a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” ( )

Note that there is a requirement that the dog must be trained.  Individuals who purchase an online vest and take their dog into public absent training do not meet this definition.   It is the task specific nature of the training that sets a service dog apart from emotional support animals and other types of working dogs.  We note that many states have laws that provide equal access rights to service dogs in training.  Under law service dogs are not pets, thus “no pet policies” do not apply to service dogs.  For the most part- the old designation of service animal has been revised to include only canines- with rare exceptions made for miniature horses that meet strict guidelines.

Emotional support animals (ESA) – these animals are simply pets whose mere presence provides comfort to a person.  These animals are classified as pets, and are not restricted to dogs.  A physician letter stating that an ESA is needed is all that is required for an animal to meet this definition.  The FSDS does not train ESAs.

Therapy dogs – these dogs are trained to visit patients / clients in public.  Examples of places where you might find a therapy dogs include but are not limited to hospitals, nursing homes and reading partner programs for children.  The FSDS does not train therapy dogs.

Facility dogs – these dogs are trained to work in therapeutic settings.  A good example of a facility dog is a court dog, trained to comfort victims during depositions and court proceedings.  Another example would be a dog trained to work with a licensed therapist during group or individual sessions for traumatized individuals.  The FSDS trains facility dogs.

We remind all readers that the FSDS selects carefully screened and temperament tested dogs for inclusion in our training program.  Individuals interested in attending our program should not obtain a dog first and contact us later. 

Classroom News

CB6 Class – This class is hard at work mastering upper level service dog skills.  Some of the skills worked on this past month are opening and closing doors, pulling a wheelchair, pushing handicap door and other emergency buttons and scent recognition.  They are also learning how to food shop and retrieve / return items from shelves.  Additionally, they are working on obstacle courses and working with distractions.  All are doing a great job.

CB7 Class – our beginner class has been working on training games to help the puppies master basic obedience.  The FSDS training program uses positive reinforcement only, and all exercises are built as games that the puppies find enjoyable but are able to learn from at the same time.  This month they have worked on self-control, heel-side hand targeting, sit-stay at a distance, attention and focus, take to hold, touch with a lid and loose leash walking.  A very special shout out to student trainer Pearl Willis and SDIT “Adara” for their excellent mastery of the “sit” command, and to recipient trainer and military veteran Dennis Meltzer and his SDIT “Blue” for focus and mastery of the “sit-stay at a distance” command.

Become a Certified Program

Are you currently an Evaluator in the FSDS Outreach Certification Program?  Do you wish to offer group SD training classes as a formal program through your business?  Learn more about opportunities to gain support by joining the FSDS network.  Click here to learn more.


Wellness Tip

Recalls of dog food, treats and other canine products do occasionally occur.  It is important for every responsible dog owner to stay informed.  Best case scenario tainted foods can lead to gastrointestinal upset that may be short-lived.  Worst case, it can lead to life-threatening illness such as Fanconi syndrome and death.

Sign up to receive free pet food recall notices.

Thank You

We wish to express our sincere appreciation to the following individuals who have generously contributed to help us fulfill our mission of providing services to wounded heroes.

  • Steven and Liz Michaels
  • Shelley Kamin ILM Dorothy Savino Klaer
  • Albert Leidel ILM Charles Wagner
  • Valerie Schluter
  • Trudy A. Dreiling
  • James L. Braun
  • Bill G. Petersen

Upcoming Events

  • 2/26/2017 – Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club Old Car Show.  This 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.

Applications Now Accepted for Next Class

The FSDS is accepting applications from individuals interested in attending our program for the next class.  This is tentatively scheduled to begin this Fall.  You can locate our application on our website at:

Photo Gallery

We hope you enjoy these photos of our classes at work.  The advanced class is at work on tasks such as wheelchair pull, opening and closing doors and pushing emergency button.  Our beginner class is working at fine tuning basic obedience, and our students are also completing their canine safety skills training, including CPR and first aid certification.

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Dec 012016

The Year in Review

It is so hard to believe that another year is coming to a close.  2016 has been a year of challenges for us, and with these challenges has come opportunities to stretch our wings and grow as we adapt to the changes going on around us.  We take a moment her to review for you some of the highlights of the past year.

SD Training Program– in January we overhauled our training program to convert this from a high school to a community-based program.  Though local teens continue to be welcome, no longer is inclusion limited to only those students on one high school campus.  This change benefits not only teens across the Valley, but also permits individuals with disabilities to participate fully as students to train their own dog from start to finish.  2016 also marks the first time that we were able to start two new classes in the same year.

Certification Program – we have expanded our program to invite independent trainers to become a part of a network of programs to become FSDS certified programs.  This is a lengthy process, and several programs are already at work to organize their standards to meet requirements.  Our goal is to help network independent trainers who operate small businesses, and improve accessibility and quality of SD training in remote rural areas of the country.

Working Like a Dog Program – this is perhaps the most exciting initiative for us.  This past year the Board has approved an initiative that will provide per diem work for SD teams, who would otherwise be disenfranchised.  It is no secret that securing employment as a SD team is fraught with difficulties.  Many of our team handlers who have been wounded in the line of duty have been placed on medical retirement, and suffer feelings of social isolation.  Our new program will permit those who have been in training for at least one year, or graduated, and in good standing to apply for a position as Community Educators.  They will then be available to attend meetings and events and help educate the public on SD issues.  It will also be a goal of ours to increase outreach to military and first responders and those service agencies put in place to assist them, and educate them about the benefits of SDs.

Our growing family – this past year we were fortunate to attract several new members of the FSDS family.  Dominique Sollazzo joined the FSDS family as of the first of the year.  She first came to the FSDS in August of 2012 as a high school student, and raised a SD for a military veteran in need.  The following year the FSDS sponsored her to attend the Emergency Animal Medical Technician class offered by the AZ Humane Society.  Dominique now works as an intern instructor.  Mr. Gary Noble joined the family in April.  Prior to being with the FSDS, he was the Executive Director for an environmental non-profit based in Michigan.  Gary is a seasoned grant writer and event planner and his services as the Event Planner / Fundraiser for the FSDS have been a real asset for us.  Scott Sefranka joined the Board of Directors this past summer, and the benefits of his expertise were immediately felt by all.  Scott is a military veteran and wounded police officer, and recently certified as a team with is own SD “Bigby”.  They are graduates of the FSDS training program.  Scott is involved with policy decisions and we are looking forward to a productive long-term relationship between he and the FSDS.

In the News – this past year FSDS was featured in stories by Phoenix Law Enforcement Association  PLEA Oct_2016  as well U.S. World News.  We appreciate the dedication of these professionals to provide education on service dog issues to our community and our nation. FSDS was selected by U. S. News from programs across the nation.

Classroom News

CB6 Class  –  all students have now successfully completed the first three rounds of testing, and starting with the new year will move into the final phase of their training. In this phase they are now learning specific tasks such as tugging open doors, alerting to PTSD triggers, scent work for medical alert dogs, summoning help in times of crisis and working with advanced distractions.  The transformations we have witnessed not only for the dogs, but for the recipients / trainers has been nothing short of miraculous.  Kudos to all for a job well done.

CB7 Class – our new class of students is hard at work mastering their beginner puppy tasks in preparation to take their AKC Puppy Star Test on Dec. 3rd.  The dogs currently know commands like nose-targeting, sit, down, backing up, spinning left and right, and the heel position.  They are all bonding well with their dogs and we are very encouraged by these early signs.  We look forward to getting our new students together with our more established students in early Dec. for the annual holiday party.

Attention Evaluators / Have Your Training Program Certified

This past year, as noted above, we launched a new initiative that would offer each of you the opportunity to have your training program certified.  This initiative is designed to network you and provide you with the infrastructure and support you need to grow and protect your business, while at the same time increasing the quality and quantity of legitimate SD training options to those in areas not served by other SD training program.

The real test of how well your policy and procedures are put together comes in witnessing how well they will hold up when put to the ultimate test.  It is an unfortunate reality that trade secret theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in our nation, with employees / former employees (or volunteers) now recognized as the largest group of offenders.  Fortunately, federal and state laws have recently been enacted to provide a viable option for businesses who are the victims of theft to pursue criminal charges.  Theft of trade secrets is now a felony offense, and no longer regarded as solely a civil matter.  This has opened an avenue for businesses with strong policies that specify how to secure their materials and have the means to collect and produce credible evidence of a crime to pursue criminal charges.  It is important for each of you to differentiate between what sorts of information you may feel are necessary to collect, and what type of information will actually be requested by the police and County Attorney should the need arise.

This past year our policies were put to the test three times.  In each instance, it was document (trade secret) theft that was at play.  Each time, our policies and procedures were sufficient to address the situation.  Each of you must realize that in this electronic (“cut and paste”) world in which we live anyone can navigate to your website and take a screen shot.  They can then crop out your logo and use it.  If you have a website, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media page, you are vulnerable to attack.  Alternately volunteers, past clients or former employees can take your program materials and use them to open “their own” competing program.  One example of a situation we encountered this past year was a former team handler who used our logo to declare herself as the “FSDS Training School” in her region, pasting our logo on a fee schedule she designed, producing her own badges using our logo, etc.  Thanks to some astute readers who recognized the problem and brought this to our attention, she was caught and the authorities were able to address the situation.

For those trainers who sign on with us, you will be presented with a comprehensive set of policy and procedures that will increase your ability to protect your business.  Gone are the days when you can simply hang a shingle and begin to provide services.  Doing the “heavy lifting” work of establishing effective policy and procedures is essential to the survival of your business.  We remind you all that realistically, it is not a question of “if” you will be faced with theft, but “when”Learn more about how to take the first step to protect your business.

Upcoming Events

  • Dec. 3 – Annual FSDS Holiday Party for staff and students
  • Feb. 26, 2017 – Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club car Show to benefit the FSDS, details TBA

With Sincere Thanks

This month we wish to acknowledge and thank the following individuals for their generosity:

  • Del E. Webb Foundation
  • Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club
  • The Camping Companies, Inc.
  • Hannah L. Rhodes
  • The Olivia Family Trust

Over the course of the last year we have been fortunate to have the continued involvement and repeat large donations from several wonderful businesses, and we would be remiss not to mention some of our long-term supporters here:

  • Armed Forces Support Group of Sun City Grand
  • Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club
  • Casino Arizona
  • CR Bard, Inc.
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition / Tim Ganahl
  • Miracle Corps. / Christopher Barraclough

A very special and heartfelt thank you to the Phoenix Police Department / Dawnasie Martin for very generously permitting us use of classroom space at their Estrella Mountain Precinct.  We are eternally grateful to them for their support of our training program, as well as our officers in need.  Without this type of high level support and long-term commitment, our program would not be possible.

Wellness Tip

It is that time of year when we stuff the stockings for our furry friends.  Here are some practical tips on do’s and don’ts for the season:


  • replace any working equipment that is in poor repair or no longer properly fitted
  • ensure that all toys are free from small removable parts and made for vigorous chewers
  • provide only nutritious and healthy treats for your dogs
  • sign up to receive pet food recall alerts
  • provide stainless steel bowls for your dog
  • supervise your dog around holiday decorations
  • keep gift packages hidden until you are ready for your dog to open them
  • supervise your dogs play at all times


  • provide human food or treats to your dog
  • offer your dog any toy that is small enough to fit through the center of a roll of toilet paper
  • feed your dog from bowls decorated with lead-based paint
  • leave packages or decorations where your dog can reach them and eat ribbons or bows, as these may cause intestinal obstruction
  • leave garbage cans that contain food remains uncovered
  • leave candy or nut dishes on low lying tables

Have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

Photo Gallery

We hope that you enjoy these photos.  Some were taken in class, while others were thoughtfully submitted by our students and were taken outside of the classroom.  Who can resist these sweet moments and adorable little puppy faces!

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Oct 012016

City of Phoenix Enacts New Law to Protect Dogs

(Cross-posted from Phoenix Police Memo)

To our readers who reside in the City of Phoenix- please take note of the new law that has been enacted.

Unlawful Restraint of Dogs in the City of Phoenix

The City of Phoenix has recently passed a new law that will protect dogs from unreasonable or excessive restraint that would place them in jeopardy.What is unreasonable or excessive?
This is viewed as any restraint that impedes a dogs movement and places them in danger, with no way to escape.   This is believed to occur when any of the following conditions are met:

  • The collar used is not properly fitted to the dog because it doesn’t measure the circumference of the dog’s neck, plus one inch;
  • The restraint used is shorter than 10 feet in length;
  • The restraint used places the dog in unsafe or unsanitary conditions;
  • The restraint used causes injury to the dog; or
  • The restraint used does not permit the dog access to food, water, shade, dry ground or shelter.

First time offenders will face fines.  Repeat offenders can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and face penalties which include jail time and fines.Excessive restraint also includes situations described below:

  • Restraining the dog in temperatures under 32 degrees or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Restraining the dogs during a declared heat advisory from local, state or national authorities in the area.
  • Restraining the dog after a monsoon, hurricane, tropical storm, dust storm or tornado warning has been issued for the area.

(Phoenix City Code Chapter 8, Section 1 / P.C.C. 8-3.08)Though this law has been signed into effect for Phoenix, we urge all of our readers to take heed of this.  This law provides some common sense guidelines that will protect dogs across the nation, and indeed across the world.  Our dogs are our best friends, our constant companions.  For those partnered with SDs, our SD is your lifeline.  A good rule of thumb is to provide your dog with the same level of protection you would provide for yourself.  If you would not stay outdoors in any particular condition, then you should not subject your dog to this either.Remember to put safety first always.

Classroom News

CB6  Class of 2017 – This past month our community-based (CB) class of 2017 has been hard at work.  With the Canine Good Citizen and Public Access Testing in the books, they are out on their own for the first time in public.  This is a huge milestone in the life of a team-in-training.  Classroom activities have focused on a combination of classroom learning and field tips out to the community. Josh Corrington and Troy have made remarkable progress on scent detection this month.  Kudos to local teen trainer Brianna Espinosa and her SDIT Zazu.   Brianna has worked hard to teach Zazu how to shop.  This past month while on a field trip with his intended recipient Tim Smith, Zazu was able to retrieve items from a store shelf and place them in a box on the floor.  Good job to all!

It is important for us to continue to challenge the teams by taking them to new places, so that the team can experience some more unusual sights and sounds for the first time under the guidance of teaching staff.

Croner_ShadowCB7 Class of 2018 – WELCOME to our new class!  As always, this class is a mix of military veterans, wounded first responders, teens who wish to serve the community by raising a dog for someone in need, and others in need from the community will raise a dog for their own needs.  This class officially started on Sept. 24th, and is expected to graduate in early 2018.  Pictured at left is wounded military veteran Adam Croner as he and his family pick up his new SDIT Shadow.

Spotlight on Ryan Orr: Student Trainer attending Brophy College Prep

Lady_ChurchThis month we are proud to spotlight FSDS student trainer Ryan Orr and his SDIT “Lady”.  Ryan is a Sophomore at Brophy College Preparatory, and has become the first student at Brophy to bring a SDIT onto the campus.  Ryan has done an exceptional job of educating other students, faculty and administrators on SDs, and integrating Lady into campus life.

Ryan’s passions are photography, video production and sports management, and is planning a career that allows him to combine these.  He has a strong commitment to serve his community, and joined the Key Club at Brophy Prep, an  international student-led organization which provides its members with opportunities to provide service, build character and develop leadership.  Ryan has a firm belief in the importance of serving others.  The advisor of the club’s chapter, Ms. Castaneda, introduced him to the opportunity to train a SD with the FSDS, and the rest is history.  Ryan has a cousin who resides in Oregon and began training SDs while in HS, and has continued to train SDs to this day, so this was a natural fit for him and his wonderful family.

Lady_Ryan1In a statement from the President’s Office at Brophy, Adria Renke had the following to say about Ryan and his dedication: “At Brophy we refer to Ryan Orr as living his Jesuit roots of being a Man for Others.  While other students have complete freedom regarding their activities, Ryan has unselfishly committed himself to a training year.  How could we do anything but encourage his dedication and commitment? Every step he takes on campus brings smiles to all of us.  Ryan Orr, Brophy Man for Others.”

We couldn’t agree more!  Four paws up to Ryan and Lady!

Wellness Tip

Fall has arrived, and here comes the holiday season.  It is time to remind our readers of some life-saving tips for the safety of your dogs.  Remember that those foods that are special treats for humans can be lethal for your dog.
  • keep all candy dishes off of end or coffee tables and out of reach of animals
  • supervise your dogs around decorations at all times
  • keep plants and flowers out of reach
  • keep your dog in a back room on Halloween when the doorbell is ringing so that they do not get spooked
  • remember that dog costumes may be cute, but should not cover the face, nor should your dog be unsupervised

Stay safe and have a Happy Halloween!

Upcoming Events

  • October 18– presentation to the Sun City Best Friend Dog Club.
  • October 21 – Puppy Shower held by C.R. Bard, Inc. to provide gifts for our new puppies.
  • November 3 – Bard PV Health and Wellness Fair, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Tempe, AZ
  • December 3 – Annual FSDS Holiday Party for Teams

Photo Gallery

Image-1 IMG_3023 Teddy_Grace4Lady_BaseballLady_RyanLady_Ryan1Aguilar_Arkai

Sep 012016

Program Metrics: Organizational Growth

In 2008 a small group of individuals sat around the kitchen table of Miriam Peterman and started the FSDS.  Since that time, the organization has continued to grow.  One of our core philosophies is a firm belief in transparency as a necessary means for us to earn the trust of the public.  Last month we reported on the progress of our online didactic education module.  This month we take a look at the overall growth of the organization.

Website statistics: we have been carefully tracking the numbers and types of visits on our website.  This month we report on the numbers over since 2012 (with the numbers and extrapolated figures for 2016).  Note that the numbers for 2016 are from Jan. 1st – June 30th.

Description 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 *
Total # visits 6782 8488 12926 18858 11967 / 23934
# new visits 4872 5530 9946 14195 9593 / 19186
# repeat visits 1910 2958 2980 4663 2374 / 4748
# visits from United States 6458 8239 9145 12911 11051 / 22102
# visits from other countries 324 249 851 947 916 / 1832
# of countries visitors come from 59 52 88 94 82 / 164

*The second set of numbers for 2016 represents extrapolated figures for the entire year.

It is apparent that the traffic on the site is increasing steadily each year.  We also note that the number of visits from outside of the U.S. are increasing.  Among the inquiries from the U.S. that we receive, a majority are from military and first responders who need assistance and inquire whether or not we operate a program in their area, stating that there is no program comparable to our in their region.  The next most common inquiry is from individuals who reside in rural, remote areas and lack access to a formal program, and wish to certify through our Outreach Program.

With the advent of our new community-based training program we have had to dedicate much time and resources this past year towards fine-tuning our services to provide maximum benefits for those in need who are training their own dog.  The needs of this population differ greatly from our previous population of able-bodied students training a dog for someone else in need.  It is a long term goal of the FSDS to expand in the future to better serve those across the state of AZ.

The FSDS currently employs 6 PT staff.  All managers work from home, while teachers use facility space that is generously donated by the Phoenix Police Department.  While we are small, this arrangement is designed to ensure that funds are diverted towards the direct provision of programs and service to those in need, rather than maintenance of facility space.  Staff growth is expected to increase in early 2017 as the first group of CB students will be eligible or per diem employment under our Back to Work Program.  Those individuals will be hired as Canine Ambassador Teams and will be assigned to work on community presentations and education.

Classroom News

The students in our community-based (CB) program are doing a fine job.  This past month there were a few “stand-out” students who deserve special mention.  On a recent field trip to a movie theatre, the team of Dale Stevenson and Gus did an exceptional job.  Gus has developed a keen ability to sense the needs of Dale and to respond in a proactive manner.  It is apparent that the two have formed a strong and healthy bond, essential to a well functioning team.

Grace Ganahl and her SDIT Teddy were rewarded for leadership and good team work this past month in responding to a public access challenge.  Grace remained calm and in charge, and Teddy did not bark or react, but stepped back and allowed his handler to manage the situation.  Grace received a bar for her leadership pin, and Teddy was rewarded with a new squeaky bone and some treats.  Good job!

Sharon Richter received her lamp of learning pin for extra reading on dog training.  The FSDS has a lending library for students who wish to acquire knowledge above and beyond what is offered in the classroom.  Sharon has demonstrated initiative and desire to be the very best handler possible.  Kudos to Sharon, keep up the good work.

DougResults of Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and Public Access Testing (PAT): we are pleased to report that this past month all of our teams successfully passed their skills tests, and have earned their yellow in-training vests.  This is a real milestone in the training process, as these teams are now cleared to go out in public on their own.  Special commendation to the team of Patrick Buvala and Frank– they have been working extra hard on the “greeting an unknown dog” station and Patrick put in many long hours with Frank to teach him proper behavior.  On test day- they turned in a stellar performance.  Congratulations to all of our teams on a job well done.

Meet the Pups

Golden Puppy Group 4 weeks

When we grow up, we want to be service dogs.

They have arrived!  The FSDS has been fortunate to secure a litter of beautiful purebred Golden Retriever pups for our upcoming CB class, set to start this Fall.  The pups in this photo are approximately 3 weeks old and have just opened their eyes.  These darling little furballs are starting to explore their world, and will be coming to live with their new trainers / recipients during the second week of Sept.  Stay tuned for more photos.

Call for Students

We are accepting applications for the new CB class.  If you are an individual in need of assistance who wishes to train a dog for your own needs, or a student who wishes to acquire skills as a trainer by training a dog for someone in need, please contact our lead instructor for more information.  The class is filing fast, and as always, preference is given to military veterans and first responders in need.

Under Construction

The FSDS has been hard at work to modernize all record keeping instruments and go paperless.  During the past month we have completed our work on:

  • Student practice logs
  • Attendance logs
  • Tracking student hours
  • Administration and tracking of all skills testing

The new system allows us to generate up to the minute reports on program metrics.  These numbers are used by the FSDS to monitor the progress of our programs and adjust as needed to improve the experience of our students.

Wellness Tip

With influenza season approaching for humans, we remind our readers that influenza can occur in dogs as well.  Unlike human influenza, which tends to be seasonal, canine influenza has no season and can occur year round.  This Fall while you are planning to receive your flu vaccine, we remind you to speak with your veterinarian about a flu vaccine for your dog.

Upcoming Events

October 18– presentation to the Sun City Best Friend Dog Club.

October 21 – Puppy Shower held by C.R. Bard, Inc. to provide gifts for our new puppies.

Photo Gallery

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