The Year in Review
It is hard to believe that another year is drawing to a close. This past year has been a year of significant change for the FSDS. This month we take a moment to reflect on our growth.
New facility – the FSDS secured a dedicated facility space early this year. Located inside of the Metro Center Mall, this centrally located facility provides accessible training to residents of AZ.
Apprenticeship Program – in June of this year the FSDS professional development program was approved by the AZ Office of Apprenticeship. This came only after many years of hard work and reflects our commitment to investing in the education of our trainers. We can hold no hope of producing quality dogs absent this type of investment in our trainers. The FSDS is now one of only two such state approved apprenticeship programs in the nation. The other is a prison program open to inmates only, making the FSDS program unique. We are also the only Master SD Trainer Program.
In 2020 we plan to hire a military veteran as our first apprentice. This move will provide full time employment and credible career training for a veteran. More importantly, we understand that the experiences of our military veterans are truly unique, and we believe it will strengthen our ability to serve the needs of our military to have a veteran among our qualified training staff.
SAA – in Sept. of this year we were approved by the VA State Approving Agency Office. This approval is significant as it allows a military veteran enrolled in our apprenticeship training program to access their GI Bill™ benefits.
Be Connected Network – the AZ Coalition for Military Families manages the Be Connected Network, a network of carefully vetted programs that receive referrals for veterans in need of services. The FSDS has applied for approval and at this writing have been informed that the approval is pending final approval.
New Services – with the opening of our new facility we have begun to offer new services that are designed to close some of the current gaps in services to those who are seeking to train their own dog for service work. These services include:
- Temperament testing
- CGC testing
- Private lessons
- Group Lessons
Community education – we have expanded our ability to provide education and training to those in the community who interface with SDs on a regular basis, as well as community groups seeking information and training. These groups include but are not limited to:
- AZ Animal Control Officers Association
- AZ Hospitality Industry
- Girl Scouts
Discussions are also underway with several professional schools to explore a working relationship designed to provide education to up and coming professionals. We also signed a recent agreement with the Glendale Union HS District to provide career exploration training to students with disabilities.
Research – with reports of SD challenges mounting in the community, and feedback from our certified teams indicating that they are increasingly subjected to aggressive untrained dogs being masqueraded as SDs in the community, the FSDS has made a commitment to devoting resources to research of these issues to help us best understand and address this problem. We continue to collect, and share, statistics along three dimensions:
- Data on public access challenges from credible working teams
- Data from three local entertainment venues who interface with a large number of SD teams per month
- Outcome data from teams enrolled in our training program
As we head into 2020 we will continue to take those steps needed to ensure that we continue to work in partnership with the state. This is important as we neither exist nor work in isolation. Our community is constantly changing around us,and we are committed to keeping pace to ensure quality services for those we serve.
Advanced Class – our advanced class is at work on their public access skills, and has had a busy month. In November, the class completed their requirements for canine safety certification. This includes not only first aid and CPR training, but also focuses on wellness. Training includes nutrition, grooming and preventing illness and injury. This month they also took some field trips to begin to train the dogs to work with distractions. Trips to Cabela’s served to train the dogs to be around taxidermy displays of non-canines, and a trip to the Rainforest Cafe allows the dogs to be present when robotic displays “came to life”. This sets the dogs up for future success on field trips to the farm to meet real non-canines. Arizona has a vast rural population and our SDs must be able to work safely around livestock and other animals. The class is also working on bringing items and “go get help”.
Beginner Class – our new class begins the first Saturday in January, and as always the majority of our recipients are military veterans. We are proud of our history of service to those who have served. If you are a military veteran who is in need of a SD, or know someone who is, please feel free to refer them to us for assistance.
Meet the newest members of the FSDS family
These adorable little purebred yellow lab puppies were adopted into the FSDS family this past month to be trained as SDs. All three will be awarded to military veterans in need.
Winter officially arrives later this month, and just in time for the cold weather we provide some tips this month for prevention of cold related injuries.
- Thermal booties – all SDs should be provided with working booties to prevent injuries to their paws during cold weather. A dog should wear their booties at all times when walking in the snow.
- Frostbite -areas such as the tips of the ears, tail, scrotum and toes are particularly susceptible to frostbite injury. Limit the time your dog spands outdoors.
- Keep your dog dry – if you permit your dog to play in the snow, this time should be limited. A dog that is wet and permitted to remain outdoors is at risk to develop hypothermia.
- Watch where you walk! Snow can obscure objects below the surface, so please be certain when walking your dog in snow about what may be underneath. Remove all potentially sharp objects such as twigs and branches or tools from your yard. When out walking in the community, remain on pathways.
With Sincere Thanks
We wish to express our sincere appreciation to the following individuals and organizations who have supported our program during the past month.
- Valerie Schluter
- Petco Foundation
- Desert Diamond Casino
- Network for Good
- Amazon Smile