Selecting a Service Dog

As the new year starts, it is a good time to revisit the FSDS policy on selection of service dogs.  Early on, during the infancy of our program, the FSDS accepted screened dogs from local shelters.  Though many of these were wonderful, loving dogs with good temperaments, it became evident that the unknown medical backgrounds in their lineage presented some challenges that were not acceptable for a service dog program.

The cost of training a dog is high, and with rising costs and scarce funding this cost has been rising at a rate that exceeds the usual cost of living.   For this reason, it is of great importance that the dogs that are selected are properly vetted and that their bloodline has been screened for genetic problems.  It makes no sense to invest close to $20,000 in training, only to have the dog forced into retirement within a year or two due to the development of medical issues that are known to be genetic.  For this reason, we no longer permit shelter dogs to be accepted into our program.

A note to this effect was posted prominently on the “Apply for a Dog” page on our website.  This is the very same page where one must go to download the application packet.  Despite this, we get requests on an almost daily basis from individuals who wish to enroll their recently acquired shelter dog in our training program. In all cases, we must decline.

The FSDS currently hand picks dogs from a small and select group of breeders.  We then re-home the dogs with intended recipients at the start of a new class.  Moving forward, plans are in place to start a breeding program of our own in the near future in order that we may continue to provide our recipients with medically sound dogs that have a greater potential for a full working life.

Classroom News

CB6 – This class has just completed their first full year of training, and are now heading into the final 6 months.  During this time, the teams will work on higher level service tasks and customizing the training to suit the individual needs of the recipients.  The anticipated graduation of this class will occur over the summer of 2017, so stay tuned.

CB7 – Congratulations to all beginning students on their recent success on the AKC S.T.A.R. Test.  The puppies have all demonstrated an ability to perform some basic commands such as “sit”, “down”and “recall from 15 feet”.  Handles have demonstrated an understanding of responsible puppy ownership including veterinary needs, grooming and nutrition.  Kudos to all of our hard working teams.  The class is also at work on their canine safety skills training unit.  So far they have completed CPR, choking, and bandaging skills.  They are also creating their own fa kits for their puppies.  Our teen trainers Grace Ganahl, Amanda Van Asdall and Brianna Espinosa from the advanced class are involved as student mentors, a necessary step for them to earn their Jr. Canine Safety Instructor status.

Wellness Tip

The new year is a good time to revisit your dogs files and make certain that all vaccines, microchip registration and county license tags are up to date.  Check the expiration dates on all flea/tick and heartworm treatments to make sure that they are current. We recommend uploading all important health and vaccine information onto a Drive that may be accessed remotely.   Wishing good health to all of your service dogs in the coming year.

Upcoming Events

January 11th – Autism Event sponsored by the Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration & Autism Society of Greater Phoenix.  The event is held in downtown Phoenix between 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thank You

Our sincere thanks to all of the following donors for their generous donation during the month of Dec. 2016:

  • Sun City Grand Armed Forces Support Group
  • Tim Smith
  • Barbara Ruga
  • Dave and Debi DeBlois
  • Stu Lofquist
  • Mr. and Mrs. Barry C. MacKean
  • Valerie Schluter
  • Gary Noble

Photo Gallery

Enjoy these photos.  Our CB6 class works on higher level skills, our CB7 class works on our state of the art canine manikins to practice canine CPR, and both classes get together for a relaxing and fun holiday party.

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