Encouraging our Future Leaders

In prior newsletters, we have alluded to the fact that leadership training is an important component of all we do.  For the FSDS training program, team leadership (students and dogs) is just a component of the overall picture.  We realize that long term, we are nurturing not only the next generation of qualified service dog teachers, but also the next generation of community leaders.  To accomplish this, we have established four pillars of leadership training as an integral part of our program.  These concepts are not simply taught as isolated lectures, but are woven through all we do and are a part of the fabric of our program.

Vision and Goal Setting start from day one, when students are given detailed information on what the process will look like.  Students are taught to set attainable goals not only for themselves and their dogs, but for the class as a whole  Throughout the process there are projects the students are involved with and they have the opportunity to work together as a team.

Team Building is equally important.  Our students are taught that leadership is not about telling others what to do.  A good leader has the ability to take a group of people and mold them into one cohesive team.  Throughout the 21 months of this program, our classes are transformed from collections of students to discrete teams, moving forward together as one.

Communication is another important area we emphasize.  For young adults, learning the power of positive communication is critical to the success of all they do, both today and in the future.  Students work to differentiate between aggressive and assertive communication, and learn how to speak with confidence in public.  Throughout the program students participate in public outings and are given the opportunity to practice this concept with the support of our State certified teachers.

Philanthropy is the final pillar in our leadership training program, and is important not only to the success of the students, but to all of us as a community.  The importance of giving back to the community can not be understated.  It is our sincere hope that our graduates will go out into the world and continue to give back to others over their lifetimes.  By giving their dog to someone in need, they are able to experience the joy of changing the lives of others in a positive way.

Classroom News


L to R: Lisette Borja, Tatyana Gonzalze and Brianna Sanchez provide canine safety education to the public at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Estrella Mountain Campus– the much anticipated moment of having our recipients present in the classroom has arrived, and our students are all so excited to be meeting the people who will soon receive their dogs.  During this next semester, they will bond with each other.  For both sides, this is a reciprocal mentoring experience.  The students mentor the recipients, teaching them all they need to know about their dog and how to work in public.  The recipients, in turn, mentor the students and teach them about various ways of giving back to the community, and reinforce the importance of this. The class was visited by certified TTouch Practitioner Barbara Dunning this past month, and she spent a session working with both students and recipients to instruct them on basic TTouch methods that they can use on their dogs.  Students continue to participate in community leadership experiences, such as the recent trip to the Desert Botanical Gardens Dogs Day in the Garden Event.

Heather Carter and class

Representative Heather Carter speaks to students on the PV campus about leadership.

Paradise Valley Campus– Students are hard at work mastering basic obedience tasks.  At the end of this semester they will take their Public Access Test, and at that time will be granted permission to be in public with their dogs 24/7.  We were very fortunate this past week to have Representative Heather Carter visit the class to address leadership training.  The students were excited to hear from a respected community leader, and are looking forward in the near future to following up on her invitation to visit the State Legislature to introduce their dogs to other leaders.

Thank you!

We wish to express our sincere appreciation to Petco Foundation for their recent generous donation to support our training program.  Petco has donated over $10,000 to help support our training and mission.

Our thanks to APS, who has offered to provide sponsorship for our 2014 graduation event.  APS has donated $10,000 to cover the cost of graduation, and this will permit us to provide tickets for all of our students and recipients.

Four Paws Up to St. Mary’s Food Bank volunteers in Surprise, AZ.  In 2013, these wonderful people have donated 3,869.5 volunteer hours to our Hours Bank, helping those with severe disabilities complete their requirements to receive a service dog from our Pawsitive Community Program.

In Loving Memory


Rev. Lynn Hallett and her SD “Tex”.

The FSDS mourns the passing of Rev. Lynn Hallet, a graduate of the first class of recipients.  Lynn served her country proudly during WWII as a nurse.  After her honorable discharge, she became a minister and has devoted her life to community service.  She leaves the world a much better place than she found it, and will be missed by all who knew her.

Safety and Wellness Tip

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and it is prudent to remind our readers that chocolate, macadamia nuts and other goodies are highly toxic to dogs.  Be certain to keep all sweets out of the reach of your dogs.  Flowers and other plants are also commonly given and received as gifts at this time of year, and may be toxic to your animals.  Remember to keep these out of reach of your four-legged family members.

Graduation 2014

We are seeking donations to help us purchase gift baskets for our recipients.  We are also seeking the volunteer services of a photographer for this event.  If you or your business / organization are willing to make a tax deductible contribution, please contact us.