Message from the Director


Some exciting news to share with you:  We have secured a lease on new space for the program!  After creating an extensive list of the requirements and ideal amenities to guide the search, this particular space checked off every item on the list.

We are looking forward to sharing pictures of the build-out along with updates and expect to move in sometime around the middle of August.

Beyond the financial support we are so grateful for, there are some opportunities to help along the way (July & August) for your consideration:

  • Painting walls once all the sheetrock is up
  • Tearing up carpet in what will be the Training Room
  • People to help empty, load, transport & unload all the supplies currently in storage to the new location (w/trucks, trailers, dollies, roller carts. too)
  • Hanging signs, posters, screens, and pictures in the new space

Also: Referrals/recommendations for providers we can contact about discounts or donating:

  • Modular office walls and cubicle work stations
  • Office furniture
  • Book shelves and furniture for student Library
  • SmartBoard for Training Room
  • Fencing for outdoor training area

We’d love to hear from any interested artists – to enter a contest to paint a mural in the Training Room (there will be a prize, of course for the winner)

Please send your responses and suggestions to me directly at

We’ll keep a record of them and be in touch with specifics as the build out progresses.


Classroom News

Keeta & Dani (Recipient Marissa) have made their first trip to a restaurant with Dani and Marissa was the one handling Dani during this experience. They did great! Dani stayed in her “under” the whole time and did not even attempt to greet those coming to their table. Marissa did really well with making sure to let Dani know she is doing the expected behavior. The team is continuing to make great success with skills training for Marissa’s specific needs.

Henry & Solomon are doing great with taking their skill training to the next level of continuing to practice in new environments and around distractions. Henry and Solomon went to a new restaurant and Solomon did wonderful with picking up dropping items (without being cued) in such a high distraction area. Their “brace” command is also improving. This team also made their first trip to the Arizona Science Center with another student to work on exposure to new sights and sounds, along with generalizing their skills training.

DeAnna & Scooby (Recipient Tesia) took their first trip with Tesia handling Scooby right from the start to an outdoor mall.  The team worked on “go get help” around distractions along with their medical alert training. Scooby is demonstrating  great success in alerting in new environments.  Tesia gets a pat on the back for doing great with rewarding Scooby when necessary and did most of this on her own with little help from DeAnna.

Brain & Mando are doing outstanding work with their skills training. During the past month, the team has been hard at work on scent training.  Brian is doing a great job with taking Mando to new environments and working on skills training to generalize their skills practice in new environments. This team is becoming more and more confident in public places.  Kudos to them for their remarkable progress in the past month.

Tina & Socorro continue to build their sound library and improve on their ability to identify and alert to sounds in different environments. The ability to discern specific sounds in loud and crowded situations takes practice, and this team has been very diligent.  Socorro is also able to alert Tina when the doorbell rings when they are NOT doing training and that is a big accomplishment. An ability to anticipate needs is key to success for this type of work.  This team has come a long way and it’s great to see the improvements in just a little time with alerting to sounds. Socorro is also making good progress with “go get help”.

Soyini & Coco– continue to work on introducing Coco to new sights and sounds to generalize their skills training to public places. Coco is able to do the “cover & block” command without being lured and responds to the verbal cue which is great for moving onto the next stages of this type of training. Go get help is making great progress and Coco is beginning to understand when help is needed absent direct cues.

Yamill & Bailey– while other youths across the Valley prepare for a lazy summer, this role model teen is spending his vacation working hard to improve the life of someone else.  One big goal Yamill has for this summer for Bailey is to go to as many new environments as much as possible to really work on public exposure training. Yamill is now in the process of teaching Bailey to “block & cover”. She has been making great improvements with “go get help” and her “brace” command. Bailey is a Rockstar at retrieving dropped items and returning them to Yamill them.  Four paws up to Yamill for inspiring all of us to be our best.

John & Simari are doing great with their skills training.  Simari has become proficient at performing the “go get help” command. She has also mastered the “brace” command and helps Johns everyday with that!  The team has now progress to working to teach Simari how to open and close cabinets to enable her to retrieve certain items for John.  In the coming month they will continue to work on refining this task, and then practicing this when John is in another room.  This past month also marked their first trip to an airport, where they practiced work amid distractions of planes landing, baggage claim, screening and other new experiences.

Celia & Caroline took their first outing to the Arizona Science Center along with another student for exposure to new sights and sounds. Caroline has been making great progress with alert training in different environments. She has also mastered her “deep pressure” training in different environments when cued to do so. Celia is proud of how much she can trust Caroline in public when it comes to assisting her and how focused she is while at work.

Welcome to the FSDS Family!

We would like to extend our warmest welcome to our newest Outreach Evaluators:

  • Dina Whitehouse / El Paso, Texas
  • Greg Sidberry / Victorville, CA

Wellness Tip

Summer has officially arrived, and along with this come hurricane and monsoon seasons.  This traditionally brings with it thunder and lightening storms, and this month we focus on keeping your animals safe during stormy weather.

For some animals, loud sounds can be frightening.  Thunder can cause stress for some, and increases the risk for others that they will run off in fear and become lost.  The same is true for fireworks.  Traditionally, July is the busiest month in the nation for lost pets.   While humans can understand the cause of the loud noises from thunder or fireworks, and the flashing light of lightening, a dog does not understand this.  For many dogs, this sudden intrusion into the normal quiet of their homes can be terrifying.   There are many factors that contribute to this, and these include but are not limited to:

  1. A dog has a more acute sense of hearing, and are more sensitive to loud noises.
  2. Fear – fear and stress travel down the leash, and if an adult or child in the home is fearful of noise the dog can sense this and react in a negative manner.

Since dogs often communicate through body language, some signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • pacing
  • panting
  • hiding
  • trembling
  • whining or howling
  • urinating or defecating indoors
  • lowering the ears and tail
  • destructive behavior

Some steps that you can take to help calm your dog include:

  • Create a safe space with bedding and a favorite toy
  • Play soft music to soothe your dog while you sit with them
  • Use positive reinforcement only, praising calm behavior
  • Desensitize your dog in advance with background music and storms, softly at first and then gradually increase volume
  • Use of specialized shirts, such as the Thundershirt
  • Medications prescribed by a veterinarian should be a last resort for those dogs who do not respond to the above

Remember never to leave your dog outdoors in a storm.  If you are not home when a storm hits, seek shelter indoors.  Each year many pets run away and are lost during storms. Make sure that your dog has a microchip as well as a collar ID tag with current home and cell phone numbers.  Ensure that your dog remains on a leash at all times when you leave home.

Wishing you all a safe storm season.

Please take care of our Veterans

Fourth of July is a time for celebration, but for many of our veterans who suffer from PTSD caused by the constant sound of bombing, this can be stressful.  We ask that our readers give thought to encouraging consideration of military veterans residing in their neighborhood.  Please avoid setting off any fireworks, and discourage others from doing so.  This can trigger flashbacks and exacerbate PTSD.  We ask that each of you do your part to help create a safe space for our military veterans here in our community.

Thank You

Our sincere thanks to the following people / organizations who have so generously donated to help us fulfill out mission in the past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Georgene Harber Leap

Photo Gallery

A big thank you to our teams for providing these beautiful photos of their training over the past month.  It is clear to see that they are increasingly getting out into public and are hard at work.