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

Apr 182017

This morning we became aware that an individual or group located in Australia was linked to our Facebook page, using the name “Foundation for Service Dog Support, AAP”.  We wish to inform our readers that the FSDS is chartered in the state of Arizona and does not operate any satellite programs or conduct any business outside of the U.S.  We also do not operate any separate facilities or training programs outside of our AZ location.  We are unable to locate any website connected with the Facebook link.

This notice does not imply that another organization lacks any credibility as we are unable to confirm or deny this.  The intent of this notice is simply to affirm that there is no connection between this post and the FSDS.

Apr 032017
Emma Pro 001

If you are age 15 or older and would like to learn how to train service dogs, the FSDS SD Trainer Academy is for you.  This innovative program is open to any individual in the U.S. interested in acquiring marketable job skills as a SD trainer.  Students can earn credentials at four different levels:

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

Unlike other programs that only teach obedience training, the FSDS program is a comprehensive program designed to give individuals the skills to start and maintain a training business.  We teach skills from early puppy training up to advanced service dog training skills,  teaching strategies and classroom management, nutrition, grooming, behavior, canine first aid and CPR and a host of other topics.

There are three required courses at each level that can be done online from the comfort of your home.  There is a requirement for 75 hours of hands on experience at each level that may be completed with a trainer in your area.  The Academy will open on June 1st of this year.

Contact us to request information about this program.


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 152017
Bill and Zeus2

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Zeus, a graduate of the very first FSDS training class.  Zeus was partnered with military veteran and wounded Peoria police officer Bill Weigt.  Zeus passed away February 14th after a brief battle with cancer.

Bill and Zeus graduated from our program in 2010, and have been one of our most successful teams and beloved figures around the FSDS.  For the past 7 years, Zeus has been constantly at the side of Bill as his service dog, best friend and as Bill would say…”my son”.  From early on in his training Zeus showed exceptional patience and an affinity for service work.  He served faithfully until the end.

We know that Zeus has led a full life, filled with love and happiness.  Bill has been an exceptional handler and has provided for Zeus’ every need.  They worked together each day at the police department, took many trips and had great adventures together.  Bill also saw to it that they took time to play together.  Zeus loved to swim and play fetch and Bill was always eager to join in with him.  Please join us in sending condolences to Bill on his loss.  RIP, dear friend.

zeus and bill zeus swimming zeus1

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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Jan 262017
Duke close up

Come on out and join us at the Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club Old Car Show.  This event will be held on Feb. 26th in Westbrook Village at the Vistas Recreation Center, 18825 Country Club Parkway, Peoria, AZ.  Proceeds help support the FSDS mission to provide service dogs to wounded veterans.  Come on out to meet some of our staff and teams and have a great time at this family friendly event.

Jan 262017

We are now accepting applications from individuals interested in participating in the FSDS training program.  This process is open to the following individuals:

  • individuals seeking to train a dog for their own needs
  • community members high school age or older who wish to acquire training skills by training a dog for someone else in need
  • individuals who need a service dog but are not able to train the dog for their own needs

Visit our Apply For a Dog page to learn more.

Jan 012017

Selecting a Service Dog

As the new year starts, it is a good time to revisit the FSDS policy on selection of service dogs.  Early on, during the infancy of our program, the FSDS accepted screened dogs from local shelters.  Though many of these were wonderful, loving dogs with good temperaments, it became evident that the unknown medical backgrounds in their lineage presented some challenges that were not acceptable for a service dog program.

The cost of training a dog is high, and with rising costs and scarce funding this cost has been rising at a rate that exceeds the usual cost of living.   For this reason, it is of great importance that the dogs that are selected are properly vetted and that their bloodline has been screened for genetic problems.  It makes no sense to invest close to $20,000 in training, only to have the dog forced into retirement within a year or two due to the development of medical issues that are known to be genetic.  For this reason, we no longer permit shelter dogs to be accepted into our program.

A note to this effect was posted prominently on the “Apply for a Dog” page on our website.  This is the very same page where one must go to download the application packet.  Despite this, we get requests on an almost daily basis from individuals who wish to enroll their recently acquired shelter dog in our training program. In all cases, we must decline.

The FSDS currently hand picks dogs from a small and select group of breeders.  We then re-home the dogs with intended recipients at the start of a new class.  Moving forward, plans are in place to start a breeding program of our own in the near future in order that we may continue to provide our recipients with medically sound dogs that have a greater potential for a full working life.

Classroom News

CB6 – This class has just completed their first full year of training, and are now heading into the final 6 months.  During this time, the teams will work on higher level service tasks and customizing the training to suit the individual needs of the recipients.  The anticipated graduation of this class will occur over the summer of 2017, so stay tuned.

CB7 – Congratulations to all beginning students on their recent success on the AKC S.T.A.R. Test.  The puppies have all demonstrated an ability to perform some basic commands such as “sit”, “down”and “recall from 15 feet”.  Handles have demonstrated an understanding of responsible puppy ownership including veterinary needs, grooming and nutrition.  Kudos to all of our hard working teams.  The class is also at work on their canine safety skills training unit.  So far they have completed CPR, choking, and bandaging skills.  They are also creating their own fa kits for their puppies.  Our teen trainers Grace Ganahl, Amanda Van Asdall and Brianna Espinosa from the advanced class are involved as student mentors, a necessary step for them to earn their Jr. Canine Safety Instructor status.

Wellness Tip

The new year is a good time to revisit your dogs files and make certain that all vaccines, microchip registration and county license tags are up to date.  Check the expiration dates on all flea/tick and heartworm treatments to make sure that they are current. We recommend uploading all important health and vaccine information onto a Drive that may be accessed remotely.   Wishing good health to all of your service dogs in the coming year.

Upcoming Events

January 11th – Autism Event sponsored by the Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration & Autism Society of Greater Phoenix.  The event is held in downtown Phoenix between 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thank You

Our sincere thanks to all of the following donors for their generous donation during the month of Dec. 2016:

  • Sun City Grand Armed Forces Support Group
  • Tim Smith
  • Barbara Ruga
  • Dave and Debi DeBlois
  • Stu Lofquist
  • Mr. and Mrs. Barry C. MacKean
  • Valerie Schluter
  • Gary Noble

Photo Gallery

Enjoy these photos.  Our CB6 class works on higher level skills, our CB7 class works on our state of the art canine manikins to practice canine CPR, and both classes get together for a relaxing and fun holiday party.

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