A Message from the Director

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected all of us, and here at the FSDS we are no exception.  Just prior to 3 p.m. on Weds, March 18, we received notification from the management of the Metrocenter Mall that the mall would not re-open for business as of the following morning.  In practical terms, this meant that our facility would be temporarily shut down.  We are in full support of this decision as it represents the best interest of the entire community.

Fortunately, we had anticipated this decision, and had already announced that group classes would cease.  In order to ensure that our training would continue with as little disruption as possible, the following measures are in place until such time as group classes may safely resume:

  1. All students will receive private lessons via Facetime, with 1-3 sessions available to each per week depending on their needs.
  2. Didactic education continues with no changes via our online classroom, as is customary for us
  3. Outreach Certification Program including those services for both teams and Evaluators are not affected.

Thus, the only change is the manner in which skills training for student trainers and recipients will proceed.  All other services are not impacted.

BC_Partner_LogoBe Connected Partnership

This past month the FSDS was notified of acceptance into the Be Connected Partnership Program, administered by the Arizona Coalition for Military Families.  This is a network of carefully vetted veteran service programs.  This is a part of the ongoing efforts by the FSDS to raise the bar for SD training in AZ and tackle the quality control issues that plague this industry.  In the past year, the FSDS has been approved by:

  1. AZ Office of Apprenticeship – we operate the only Master SD Training Program in the nation
  2. SAA Office of the VA- military veterans enrolled in our apprenticeship program are eligible to apply to receive their GI Bill benefits directly from the VA
  3. Be Connected Partnership Program

We will continue to push the envelope to ensure that our veterans receive the quality services that they are so deserving of.

Classroom News

The road to becoming a competent SD team is long, and our teams devote a minimum of 18 months of training to ensuring that they are able to work safely and unobtrusively in public.  During this time, each team must log a minimum of 180 hours of training in order to qualify to take the final certification test.  This is in addition to the completion of the online SD 101 course, and their hands on skills certification in canine first aid and CPR.  For those teams who have multiple, complex training needs, the process may take longer.  Thus, it is important each month that we take the time to recognize and reward the progress of each team.

Beginner Class – this class has been working hard to master their basic obedience commands.  This past month, we wish to acknowledge each team for their accomplishments:

  • SDIT Scooby & DeAnna made great progress with backing up in front and at heel side
  • SDIT Dani & Keeta have mastered basic perch work and are working on the command “closer” while on perch
  • SDIT Solomon and Henry made great progress with dropping items in a bucket and the “go find” command with toys
  • SDIT Caroline and Celia made great progress with backing up, perch work that helps with and loose leash walking
  • SDIT Coco and Soyini have mastered “go find” with toys on different surfaces for Coco to retrieve and the “take it” command
  • SDIT Willow and Lindsey made great progress with “paws up & off” commands along with being able to stay under a chair for more than 3 mins
  • SDIT Bailey and Yamill have made great progress with “sit & down proofing” with distractions, also backing up in a straight line
  • SDIT Socorro and Tina made great progress with “sit and down”, adding distance; they have also developed a good “leave it” command with food on the floor
  • SDIT Mando & Brian have been making great progress with “go find” and  holding a toy in his mouth for several seconds

While on the surface these may appear to be small milestones, it is important to realize that a strong foundation of basic obedience forms the core for all future SD task training.  Teaching a  young puppy their basic obedience commands is the hardest part of the training process.  Kudos to all for a job well done.

Advanced Class – this class is at work on practicing advanced skills training with the distractions of public.  They are also completing their required exposures to ensure that their dog has a well-rounded understanding of public sights and sounds, and is able to respond to new challenges under any circumstance.  This month teams visited the Peoria Fire Department Station 197 to gain exposure to emergency apparatus such as fire trucks.  In times of medical crisis such a response would be warranted, and the dogs must learn how to respond to these sights and sounds.  All teams did a great job.  In addition, we wish to acknowledge the progress made by each team in the following areas:

  • David & SDIT Samson and David have mastered “brace”, and have also mastered picking up dropped items with public distractions
  • SDIT Dakota and Nicole have made significant progress in teaching Dakota how to alert alert during a medical crisis and to “go get help”.
  • Irmarie & SDIT Bruno and Irmarie have been at work on delivering items with distractions and adding further distance with “go get help”

Canine Wellness

During this time when we must take additional measure to protect us from the spread of illness, we remind all readers to practice caution when considering exposing your dogs to the public.

The Coronavirus is transmitted through droplets from coughs or sneezes, and if you are in public with your dog and are exposed to ill people who are coughing or sneezing, these droplets can land on the fur of your dog.  If you cuddle or kiss your dog. you can inhale these particles and become infected.  If you must go out to get food or medications, please remember to bathe your dog when you return home.

We also remind you not to allow others to pet your dog when in public.  Please enforce the 6 ft rule at all times.

A Warm Welcome

We wish to extend a warm welcome to Carol Farabee, PhD. , founder and Executive Director of the Cooperative Collaboration Coalition (CCC).  Dr. Farabee earned her doctorate in Applied Management Decision Sciences and has a lifetime of experience in working with the non-profit sector.  She and her group will be working with the FSDS to help build capacity as we move forward.

In 2019 our focus was on completing the requirements for proper credentialing of our program, as this addressed what we believed to be recognized and credible quality control measures.  With this phase of growth behind us, we now focus on moving forward, and the assistance that CCC is able to provide will be invaluable.

Our Sincere Thanks

A very special thank you to all of the individuals and groups who have supported us during the month of March.

  • DAV Auxiliary Unit 1
  • Valerie Schluter
  • Armed Forces Support Group of Sun City Grand
  • Great American Title Agency
  • State Farm Insurance / Fanelli Agency
  • Stan and Linda VanPeursem
  • Kari Chevalier
  • Ron and Jackie Coslett
  • Cindy Kondzielaski
  • Barry Mackean
  • Thomas Smith Sr.
  • Robert Wagemann
  • Tim Ganahl / Hill’s Pet Nutrition
  • F. Donovan  and Lois Kuehnast
  • John Holmes
  • Dwayne and Erma Murray
  • Michael Anastos
  • Marina Imports / Gary Weeks
  • Michael Anastos

Photo Gallery

This past month our teams were treated to an outing with the Armed Forces Support Group of Sun City Grand (AFSG).  Each year, the AFSG hosts a gold tournament, with a portion of the proceed donated to the FSDS to support our services to military veterans.  Our beginner and advanced students took a trip to the tournament this year to visit with event goers, and a good time was had by all.  We are grateful to the AFSG for their ongoing support.  Our advanced class also visited the Peoria FD Station 197 , and received a warm welcome from all. Thank you to our first responders.

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