Metrocenter Mall Closing

In late June, the Metrocenter announced that they will shut down their mall permanently to all businesses.  We were informed that the last day of business would be June 30th. This late move effectively displaced all businesses.

The FSDS facility was located inside of the mall, and had not yet reopened due to the alarming spike in coronavirus cases.  In the final analysis, while this will be costly in terms of time and money in the short term, given our ability to continue training via Facetime it has caused limited, if any, disruption to our ability to serve our students.

We will be on the lookout for a new home once the number of cases of coronavirus has decreased and it is deemed safe to do so.  We wish to express our appreciation for the outpouring of support we have seen during this time.

Outreach Services

In Sept. 2009 the FSDS launched our unique Outreach Program.  The purpose of this program was to bring credible training and certification to underserved areas, and to address issues of reciprocity for our certified teams.

Rural and remote areas are inherently disadvantaged with regard to SD training.  Certification is typically granted by a credible program, and not individual trainers.  Since most programs operate as non-profits, they tend to be centered in or around metropolitan areas with a population of donors ample to support services.  We were concerned early on that individuals with disabilities who resided in rural areas lacked geographic access to a credible program.  Many individuals with disabilities are also unable to manage the long drive that would be required on a weekly basis to attend training.

Reciprocity was also identified as an urgent need.  Those teams who do certify with a program, and must relocate either for employment or to be closer to family for assistance, are unable to re-test every three years as required and therefore their certifications expire.  Though a certification is not required under law, it is beneficial in many circumstances and therefore worthy of address.

The FSDS has built a team of carefully selected and qualified trainers, and admitted them to our network.  Evaluators must provide proof of credentialing and experience, and pass a screening test.  They are then granted permission to administer our certification test to teams they have trained, or FSDS teams who have relocated and need to retest every three years.  These Evaluators agree provide the testing at an affordable and capped cost.  Each Evaluator pays a modest fee every three years that is equivalent to the cost of administering just one test, thus the cost of joining the network is easily recuperated.  The names of our trainers / Evaluators are listed on our site, providing for low cost marketing and referrals.  This network has grown over the years and is nearing completion of the 11th year of operation.

If you are an experienced dog trainer and interested in increasing  your marketability and joining our network, please contact us for further information.  Information on this program is also available on our website.

Coronavirus Update

As many of you are aware, the Coronavirus cases in AZ have demonstrated an alarming spike.  We continue to monitor the situation closely.  Until such time as we are able to assure the health and safety of our staff and students, our facility doors will remain closed.  Our training continues via private Facetime lessons during this time.

If you have questions about our training program, or wish to apply for our wait list for the next training class, please contact our lead trainer, Jessica Parker.

Classroom News

Beginner Class

DeAnna & Scooby– have gotten a lot better with the “cued from a distance” command.  This includes the commands of “sit, down & heel”.  They are also improving with the emergency stop command that can help prevent injuries and avoid bad situations.
Keeta & Dani- are doing great with generalizing skills in different areas around distractions.  They are progressing nicely with “leave it’ and improving on cuing commands from a distance. Dani is also doing great with retrieving different items such as meds, leash, wallet from a distance.
Henry & Solomon– are getting better at working around distractions when taken out for walks. They have greatly improved with the command “touch” and can now target from a distance. Solomon is now able to reliably pick up dropped items and give back to his handler, which has been a huge help to Henry.
Lindsey & Willow- are at work on holding items such as little bags and carrying them back on command.   They are also doing a great job with “go find” around distractions and learning to retrieve only targeted items on command.  They have mastered their ” emergency stop”  command and are reliably able to perform a stop from a distance when cued.
Celia & Carloine– have mastered the command “closer” and are now able to pick up dropped items such as pill bottles when cued.  Their loose leash walking is also improving around distractions and off lead.
Brian & Mando– are now been able to retrieve different items, such as medicine bag or meds when cued. Brian is able to now hide the items and Mando will go get the item and bring it back.  Off lead work has also been improving as well.
Tina & Socorro– are making great progress with “sit, stay and down stays” while the handler goes out of sight.  They are also making great improvement with “under” and staying for extended periods of time.
Yamill & Bailey- have done outstanding work this month with  “go find”  when items are out of sight.  Bailey can now pick up dropped items such as the leash.  They have mastered being cued from a distance with sit and down
Soyini & Coco –  have mastered the emergency stop command, as well as and cueing heel from a distance.  Coco is now able to pick up dropped items on command and is getting better with her off lead work around distractions.
John & Simari– are now learning how to drop items in a bucket and have mastered “touch” with a lid.  They have progressed to targeted touch from a distance when cued. Simari has also mastered “under with food leave it” and “”stays while under for over 10 mins.

Advanced Class

David & Samson– are getting better at retrieving David’s wife by tugging lightly on her clothing to guide his wife where David is in the house when he cues for help.  They are doing a great job at alerting to impending medical emergencies. Their focus has been on accomplishing service task training in different areas when on walks, to allow for social distancing.
Imarie & Bruno– are working on some impulse control exercise that involve food “leave-its”, and are making remarkable progress in this area.  They are also making progress on generalizing tasks outside of the home, and are practicing social distancing.
Nicole & Dakota– Graduated
Kudos to all of our hard working teams,who despite the challenges of this pandemic continue to succeed in their training.


Maiden and DakotaPlease join us in congratulating our newest certified team.  Nicole Joy (mother) has been hard at work to help train a SD for her beautiful daughter, Maiden.  Over the past year and a half they have been model students and have both been very involved in the process.  This past month, they passed the certification test along with their dog “Dakota” with flying colors.  We are so proud of their accomplishments.  This is one of our First Responder families who have received their training at no out-of-pocket cost as part of our commitment to this population.  Kudos to this hard working team for a job well done!


IMG_20141226_0001We bid a fond farewell to our co-founder, Miriam Peterman, who is retiring as of July 10th.  Miriam is a co-founder of the FSDS, and has served us for 12.5 years.  Her presence will be missed.

Miriam has been a nurse for over 50 years.  Her long and successful career includes helping to start several non-profits, with the FSDS being the most recent.  Miriam has served the FSDS in many capacities, including business advisor and Outreach / Certification Manager.  She has also managed Human Resources and Accounts Payable.

Her retirement announcement comes after a long battle with chronic illness, and placement on hospice care.   She is truly an individual who embodies what it means to be a dedicated community servant, and will leave the world a better place than she found it.  Her presence at the FSDS will forever be felt.  Our prayers are with her.

Welcome to our Newest Outreach Evaluator

A warm welcome to our newest Outreach Evaluator, Pamela Molina, from San Antonio, TX.  Pamela is a military veteran, and served in the US Marine Corps. She is a certified in canine training as well as advanced canine first aid.  She is also a CGC Evaluator with the American Kennel Club.  We are pleased to welcome Pamela to our network.

Wellness Tip

Summer officially arrived last month, and along with the hot temperatures comes an increased risk of bites and stings for your dog.  This month we focus on scorpion stings.

As a general rule, the smaller the scorpion, the more toxic the venom.  A scorpion sting can be painful and will be felt by the dog.  Your dog will likely yelp to let you know s/he has been bitten.  Signs and symptoms of a scorpion sting include:

  • pain at the site of the sting
  • drooling and trouble swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • muscle tremors
  • dilated pupils
  • loss of bladder and/or bowel control
  • paralysis

First aid for a scorpion sting includes:

  • remove yourself and your dog from danger
  • contact your veterinarian immediately
  • attempt gentle removal of the stinger with the edge of a credit card, do not use tweezers
  • gently cleanse the affected area with mild soap and warm water
  • keep the dog quiet and reassured; stress travels down the leash

Transport the dog to the veterinary clinic  according to the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

Thank You

We wish to thank the following for their generous program support in the past month.

  • Subaru Foundation of America
  • Amazon Smile
  • Fry’s Community Rewards Program
  • Frances and John Wahl Foundation

Photo Gallery

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