Nov 012017

Victim Assistance Dog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classroom News

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

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

A Warm Welcome

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

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

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

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

Impact Statements

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

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

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

Wellness Tip

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

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

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

Thank You

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

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

Upcoming Events

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

Photo Gallery

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

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Oct 292017

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

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

We are looking forward to their continued success.

Oct 222017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 202017
Gretel and Shadow

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

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

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

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


Oct 012017

How to Eat an Elephant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Classroom News

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

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

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

Wellness Tip

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

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

Halloween Safety

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

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

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Thank you

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

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Shirley Holbert
  • DAV Auxillary

Upcoming Events

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

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

Photo Gallery

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

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

Sep 202017
Poodle Pup2

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

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

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

Sep 082017
Emma Pro 001

As you prepare for the arrival of this monster storm, we remind you that steps must be taken to secure the safety of yourself and your dog in advance of this disaster.

  • appropriately sized life jackets should be accessible for both team members
  • please scan all veterinary records as well as a photo of your certification badge and all certification papers for our team to a Drive so that you can access these remotely from a hand-held mobile device
  • ensure that proof of all required vaccinations, particularly rabies vaccination, are included
  • ensure that the County license tag is displayed on your dog’s collar
  • make certain that an ID collar tag with your cell phone number is displayed on the collar (avoid use of your home phone in the event that your home sustains storm damage and evacuation to a shelter becomes necessary)
  • ensure that all of your emergency contact information that is linked to a microchip is updated
  • place all of your dogs food and medications in a double-waterproofed bag to protect against water damage
  • ensure that wherever you are situated, you keep a leash on your dog at all times during the storm, as dogs can be spooked and attempt to run – you must have a firm grasp on the leash at all times
  • locate a county or Red Cross shelter in advance – Red Cross Shelters do permit SDs, you must provide proof of such:
  • put together an emergency first aid kit for your dog, store this also in a double plastic bag to waterproof contents
  • ensure that you pack protective booties for your dog, debris that results from such a storm can present great risk for your dog to sustain paw injuries, you must keep booties on your dog in the aftermath to protect against injury
  • pack a familiar comfort item for your dog to help them stay calm
  • remain calm,  your dog will fare better if you remain calm and in charge

For those of you in the southeast who may be outside of the project path of Hurricane Irma, but potentially in the path of Hurricane Jose, now a powerful CAT 4 storm, please heed the advice above. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you.  Stay safe.

Sep 012017
Poodle Pup2

Building Bridges

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

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

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

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

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

Classroom News

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

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


Youth trainer Heather Vedeler and SDIT “JW”

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

Wellness Tip

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

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

With Appreciation

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

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

Upcoming Events

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

Photo Gallery

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

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

Aug 012017

Seeking Puppies for New Class

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

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

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

Classroom News

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

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

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

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

Graduation 2017

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

  • The Foundation for Service Dog Support

    Congratulations to our 2017 graduate recipients and student trainers

    Sharon Richter and Nahla

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

And our student trainers…

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

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

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

Wellness Tip

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

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

Many Thanks To…

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

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

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

Upcoming Events

TBA – stay tuned

Photo Gallery

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

IMG_1755 IMG_1756 IMG_1757 IMG_1760 IMG_1761 IMG_1770 IMG_1781 IMG_1788

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