The FSDS is now accepting applications from individuals interested in participating in a new hybrid SD training program. In the past, this program has been held on the campus of a local high school, but in an effort to be more inclusive and truly serve the entire community the program is being moved to a neutral location. This will permit us to offer training to all members of the community, not just those students enrolled on a specific campus.
We are phasing the service dog (SD) training program off of the high school campus in order for us to be able to serve the entire community. The reasons behind this are multifactorial. Though the deep cuts to education funding have made it difficult, or impossible, for the school to continue there are many other factors.
We are building the first ever hybrid program. We know all too well that our population of First Responders and military are inherent “hands-on do-ers”. Though some are physically unable to train their own dog and must have one provided, there are others who have the physical ability and would benefit from inclusion from the start. We will permit youths from all over the Valley- as well as adults who seek to acquire SD training skills to become involved. We will also permit military and First Responders who wish to train their own dog to participate. We provide the dog– another HUGE change from how other programs do this. We have purebred golden retrievers with medical screening, rather than shelter dogs with unknown medical backgrounds who may train, then have to retire due to development of medical issues such as seizures, diabetes, hip dysplasia, etc. There are many benefits to be derived from this, including but not limited to:
- permitting us to truly serve the entire community
- including First Responders who have felt isolated builds an instant peer group / support network for them
- as the dog begins to learn skills the individuals who will train their dogs benefit immediately without having to wait a year or longer to get a dog
- by having the military and First Responders involved for the entire time alongside the youths, we build stronger bridges between these populations and enhance what has been set up to be a reciprocal mentoring experience
- we are free to start classes at any time when funding permits, rather than be locked in to only starting a class in August with the new school year
- free from those restrictions that apply to school programs, we may build in some new opportunities and be a bit more creative
- as individuals gain knowledge, we will permit them to be a part of our Speakers Bureau if they desire- alleviating the current problem where they are out of a job and feel marginalized and unable to remain an active part of the military or First Responder community
- our goal is that as programs are added, graduates who have learned how to train may continue with us in a paid position as an intern instructor to continue to work towards the 6,000 hours we require to qualify as a Sr. Instructor; this builds a career path so that individuals who may have felt forced into medical retirement now have an opportunity to gain employment with their SDs and help the next group through the process
Interested individuals may contact us directly for additional information.