A Message from the Director

Greetings!  I am so happy to be part of the FSDS family, as your new Executive Director, and to assist in the organization’s move to the next level – being all it is meant to be in serving people with a variety of disabilities through service dogs.

As I am working through the SD101 orientation and reviewing the policies & procedures documents and financial statements, etc.  I am impressed with the thoughtful planning that has gone into establishing and operating the foundation since its inception.

I’m happy to share the good news with you that Dr. Betancourt is not leaving us.  She will be serving as Director, Research & Development , funneling her passion for this work into areas that continue to strengthen and expand the positive impact service dogs have.

My background in fundraising, strategic planning, not-for-profit management, marketing, and advocacy will be focused on: a) organizational growth in fundraising and the number of people served; b) establishing a new free-standing facility from which to expand our training operation; and c) increased awareness of the foundation and it’s already stellar reputation.

The evidence-based credentialing protocols already established and the operating excellence of the foundation will continue to be the basis upon which our future decisions are made.  FSDS has already set the standard for excellence in Arizona and our vision is to see it realize its full potential for regional and nation influence as well.

Thank you for warm welcome messages I’ve already received.  I’ll share more about myself at another time to help us get better acquainted.

Giving you my best!


Classroom News

Keeta & Dani are continuing to work on generalizing service tasks such as go get help, picking up items and retrieving the medicine bag from different locations. Dani will be able to meet her recipient this coming month, so stay tuned to meet our newest student. Dani will be awarded to a wounded police officer.

Henry & Solomon have been doing well with generalizing the “touch” command for alerting Henry to different sounds. We are also in the beginning stages of teaching Solomon on how to pick up dropped items without being cued to do so.

DeAnna & Scooby (and recipient Tesia) are doing great with working on team building skills. They have made their first trip to the Children’s Hospital and Scooby did great with hearing the sounds of kids crying and not reacting. Teisa did great with keeping Scooby at heel side and telling him to “leave it” when necessary. They also practiced some of the service skills he has been learning to generalize this to different environments

Brain & Mando continue to work on their scent training.  Mando is doing great with his alerting which is “paw”.  They are also at work on blocking/covering as well as delivering items to other people when cued.

Tina & Socorro are building up their sound library and having Socorro alert Tina to new sounds both inside and outside of the home. They are now incorporating distractions with this as well so that Socorro is able to alert Tina regardless of the surrounding distractions.

Soyini & Coco have been doing great in their new home and they are at work to establish new boundaries.  They continue  to refine their work on medical alert tasks so that Coco can nudge Soyini on the leg when appropriate.

Yamill & Bailey continue to work on retrieving items, picking up items and the beginning stages of “go get help”. Bailey has met her potential recipient and was able to work with him for the first time this past month, which is always an exciting time for a team.   They did well together and Bailey responded well to all commands the recipient was giving her.  This month, they will begin to individualize the task training to meet the needs of this specific recipient. Bailey will be awarded to a wounded military veteran.

John & Simari are working on individualizing and refining their service skills , including teaching Simari to hold an item in her mouth and carry.  The past month we have taught “go get help” and have also introduced the “brace” command as well as retrieving dropped items.  Simari is now able to retrieve her leash and bring it to John when it is time or for a walk.

Celia & Caroline are continuing to work on generalizing their medical tasks, which is a lengthy process. Caroline is doing really well with her block/covering training. She has continued to make progress at pawing Celia on command in different environments for alerting purposes.  She is learning how to read Celia and know how to respond in stressful situations.

Wellness Tip

With the arrival of the warm weather, snakes are coming out of hibernation and this month we provide some useful tips on how to keep your SD safe.

The most dangerous time of the year to be bitten by a venomous snake is in the Spring, when the snakes have first come out of hibernation.  The reason for this is that the snakes are relatively dehydrated, making the venom more concentrated.  It is particularly important for all handlers to remain vigilant during early Spring.  Some safety tips include:

  • If you are out walking or hiking, walk on trails only and not through tall grass or brush where snakes may hide
  • Do not use a retractable leash and allow your dog to go ahead of you to sniff, your SD should be within 2 ft of you at all times on a lead no longer than 6 ft
  • Clear out any piles of debris where snakes may hide in your yard, and inspect your yard prior to allowing your dog outdoors to play

A word about snake aversion classes…DON’T!   These classes use aversive training techniques that are not supported by the FSDS.  We permit only positive reinforcement training for your SD.  This is a good time to brush up on your “emergency stop” and “leave it” commands, which can save the life of your dog.  Don’t forget to refer back to your program materials on first aid for bites and stings in dogs.

Thank You

A very special thank you to all of those who have supported our program during the past month.  This includes monetary donations, as well as generous donations of time and/or services.

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Kristina Browning
  • Apollo Animal Hospital / Dr. KC Wright
  • Hayden Rd. Animal Hospital / Dr. Wayne Svoboda
  • Mark Ioia and Rick Row

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