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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.