The Purpose of SD Training

While much focus is placed on the ability of the dog to perform tasks, this often happens to the exclusion of other important outcomes.

The FSDS has three goals in SD training:

  1. Mitigate disabilities and prevent them from becoming handicaps
  2. Improve clinical outcomes for patients
  3. Achieve cost containment

The terms disability and handicap are sometimes used interchangeably, and this is not correct.  When we refer to a disability, we reference the functional  limitation.  For example, if a person has a spinal injury or severe arthritis, that is the disability.  The inability to bend down to retrieve dropped objects is the handicap.  Thus, the handicaps are a direct result of the disability.  We train dogs to perform those tasks in order to remove the handicap.  A dog who retrieves the dropped object for the handler essentially levels the playing field, allowing the person to function without having to request assistance from another person.

Improvement in clinical outcomes must be measurable.  Making someone feel better is definitely a plus and does much to improve the quality of life, however this is not quantitative.  Improvements, to our way of thinking, must be able to be both quantitative and qualitative.  For example, if a diabetic patient has lab results that are consistently out of range we look to see if the early alerting to changes in blood sugar that a well trained dog can provide are effective in restoring the lab results to within normal limits.  Stabilization of these parameters has the net result of reducing the risk for patients to develop more serious sequelae of their disease, such as amputations, cardiovascular disease, visual impairment and limb amputations.

Cost containment is an important issue.  Training a SD is an intensive process, and costly in terms of both time and money.  The cost of this training must be offset by the ultimate savings in the cost of caring for the patient.  For example, if a person was experiencing costly emergency room visits each year, we look to see if the services provided have succeeded in stabilizing the person from a clinical standpoint and obviating the need for these visits.   The community provides funding to support the training.  In turn, we work to make certain that those savings are turned back to the community, and the monies saved can be used to do additional good here at home.

We continue to carefully monitor all program metrics, and decisions regarding any changes to FSDS programs and services are based upon actual data and our belief that such changes will result in better outcomes for our recipients.

Classroom News

Keeta & Dani have been doing great with generalizing commands in different places. They are currently working on public access training, and can be found at work in public becoming familiar with the sights and sounds of a grocery store.

Henry & Solomon have been going to different parks to work on practicing commands around unfamiliar dogs.  This month they are starting to work on medical alert tasks.  Solomon has been neutered this past month, and we wish him a speedy recovery.  All FSDS dogs are neutered, and receive hip x-rays at age 15 months as a part of their routine care.

DeAnna & Scooby (and recipient Tesia) – this team has worked hard at having Tesia become more hands on with Scooby.  They are doing great work on field trips to the grocery store .  We are also starting to introduce some more specific service tasks such as “go get help”

Brian & Mando–  this team is at work on training for medical alert work.   The training goal for this team is for Mando to be able to alert Brian of impending problems PRIOR to Brian experiencing symptoms, to allow for early intervention and improvement in clinical outcomes.

Tina & Socorro are at work on public access training, and this includes ensuring that Socorro is able to respond to all commands reliably with the distractions of being in public.  Socorro is doing great with alerting Tina to the doorbell sound, and this team continues to build their “sound library”.

Soyini & Coco are at work on medical alert tasks as well as crisis intervention tasks such as “go get help”.  We also have been able to move on to the more difficult steps of “go get medicine bag” and having the bag on higher surfaces for Coco to find and bring back to the owner while they are at a distance.

Yamill & Bailey– are at work on public access tasks such as grocery shipping and going to church. Though public training has been difficult during this pandemic, we appreciate the hard work that Yamill and his family have put forth to help train Bailey for his intended recipient.

John & Simari have passed both their CGC and PAT test this past month and did a phenomenal job. John has established great team leadership skills with Simari. This month we begin the work of addressing specific service tasks, such as the retrieval of dropped objects.  Four paws up to this hard working team!

Ceila & Caroline– are working on medical tasks such as retrieval of dropped items and the medication bag. FSDS teams are trained to place all medications in a bag, and have the dog carry the bag by the handle to avoid mishaps that may otherwise occur if the dog had the medication bottle in their mouth, and the lid were to pop off.  They are doing a great job and we plan to add more tasks as each new skill is mastered.

Job Opening

The FSDS is currently recruiting for a full time Executive Director.  Successful candidates must have either a Master’s Degree in Business Administration or Non-Profit Management, or a Bachelor’s Degree and at least 5 years of progressive experience in growing and managing a small non-profit.  Prior experience in working with the disability community is a plus.  Candidates must have familiarity with database and statistical analysis, Microsoft and Google Applications and possess a Class 1 fingerprint clearance or be willing to obtain one as a condition of employment.  Interested candidates should submit a resume to us at:

Now accepting Applications from Prospective Teams

The FSDS is now accepting application from individuals interested in enrolling in a 2021 training class.  The exact date is yet to be determined, and depends on the ongoing situation with the Covid-19 pandemic. Interested individuals should contact us for further information.

Wellness Tip

Winter is here, and we remind all teams that dogs can sustain freeze burns to their paws,  in the same manner that they are prone to heat related burns in the summer.  A good litmus test is for each handler to remove their shoe and place their foot on the ground.  If you would not walk barefoot in any location, please do not send your SD out to work without protective booties.  Remember that even in the absence of temperature extremes, there still may be shards of glass or other sharp objects in parking lots, and dogs can be injured.  Protect your SD with booties at all times!  Discounts are available for FSDS teams.  Contact your instructor for more details.

Thank You!

Our sincere thanks to the following individuals and organizations for their generous contributions over the past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Richard Elder
  • Armed Forces Support Group of Sun City Grand
  • Douglas Arthur, JD in memory of Valeria M. Cekada
  • Kelsy Demelo

Your generosity and support to help the FSDS fulfill its mission to serve those in need is greatly appreciated.

Photo Gallery

Thank you to all of our teams for sending in these lovely photos from the past month.