Message from the Executive Director

“Good friends are like stars – you don’t always see them, but you know they are there.”

I’ve seen this quote many times over the years.  It seems that these last few months the realization has come that that’s what YOU are!  

Each month we see a return of supporters who give freely and generously to support the people we serve.  Likewise, we see new supporters come on board as they’ve learned about our work and want to be a part of it.

My thanks to each of our friends – you have helped in ways you may never see. For example:

  • An army veteran who suffers from severe PTSD resulting from several tours of duty overseas.  For months after coming home, he was unable to leave his house and now he’s coming to class, participating fully in field trips, and even spoke publicly to a group of supporters about his “New Leash on Life” thanks to his Service Dog and FSDS.
  • A firefighter who experiences night terrors resulting from traumatic experiences attempting to save lives in the face of damage and overwhelming grief and loss to individuals and families.  His service dog is trained to intercede during his panic attacks and bouts of overwhelming depression.


These are just 2 of the many stories you are part of every day when you support FSDS’ work.  Our students may never see you – but when you support the work we do with them, they know you are there.    

Thank you!




Wellness Tips

It’s officially Summer!  Along with it come the hurricane and monsoon seasons.  This frequently brings with it thunder and lightning storms, so this month we focus on keeping your animals safe during stormy weather.

For many animals, loud sounds can be frightening.  Thunder can cause stress for some and can increase the risk for them and others if they 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 understand the cause of the loud noises from thunder or fireworks, and the flashing light of lightning, a dog cannot.  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 is more sensitive to loud noises.
  2. Fear and stress travel down the leash so 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 urinating or defecating indoors
  • panting
  • lowering the ears and tail
  • hiding
  • destructive behavior
  • trembling
  • whining or howling

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 “Thunder shirt”
  • 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.  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 your current home and cell phone number.  Ensure that your dog remains on a leash at all times when you leave home.

Wishing you all a safe storm season.


Classroom News

June was a great month for our students. Our Midweek Beginners’ class took their first field trip to Bass Pros where we were able to successfully administer the CGC test for their dogs. They all passed with flying colors! The students did so well with rewarding their dogs for their good behavior, maintaining focus, leaving people and other dogs alone, and responding to the commands given. This was a great experience for all the dogs and their handlers. 

Our other Advanced and Beginner classes took a field trip to the Arizona Science Center! We were able to expose the dogs to different attractions within the science center that had hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations, traveling exhibitions, loud noises, flashing lights, bubbles, and more! Oh, and of course, kids running around having fun was a great distraction and exposure training for the dogs. 

As we continue to work on the commands the dogs have learned last month, we continue to be hard at work generalizing those previous taught commands along with some new things we have introduce to the teams…We have been working on the following tasks:

  • DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) adding duration
  • Cover adding distractions
  • Center
  • Crowd Control
  • Go Find/ Go Get
  • Watch
  • Middle 
  • Switch (opposite side of heel)
  • Undressing
  • Interrupting behavior 
  • Carry a bag
  • Retrieve unheard dropped items
  • Delivering items 
  • Place adding distractions and duration 

Advanced Class Highlights

Tom/Sharon & Ruby – Ruby has been making excellent progress with her “Go get” command and bringing the items back to the handler. 

Charlotte & Luna – Luna has mastered her “Touch” command on the leg and no longer needs guidance of a lid or tape as a target. 

Kerry/Jase & Sadie – Sadie has mastered Picking up unheard drop items. 

Scott & Luna – Luna has made wonderful progress with her Interruption training and getting her handlers attention. 


Beginner Class Highlights

Shriji & Elfo – Elfo has been making excellent progress with his “Emergency stop” command. 

Tori & Colson – Colson has exceeded in “Holding and carrying” items in his mouth.   

Kevin & Daisy – Daisy is performing well with the “Undressing” command and removing socks from handlers foot.  “

Charlotte & Otis – Otis has shown great improvement with his Place” command and staying on his Place for long periods of time with distractions. 

Kyla & Koda – Koda has successfully demonstrated “Delivering” items to different people in the room on command. 

Mason & Nebby – Nebby has made great progress with her “Interruption” training and getting Mason’s attention. 


Midweek Beginner Class Highlights

Chris & Sentry – Sentry has been performing wonderfully when cued “Sit and Downs” from a distance. 

Dee & Morgan – Morgan has been making great progress with his “Go get” command and is now bringing the item back to his handler without dropping it. 

Patti & Payton – Payton’s has successfully performed “Go find medication” on command and can retrieve the item from out of sight.



With Appreciation

Our heartfelt thanks to each of our supporters for making a gift in June.  We couldn’t do this vital work without you:

Timothy Glenn – Monthly donor
Chris Antoniou
Shriji Shah
Lorena Perez
John Hamlet
Josh Cornelius
Janina Alkhalloufi

Glendale Chamber of Commerce

John Henson
SECC (workplace giving from AZ State employees)
Charlotte Fornasiero
Fry’s Community Rewards
James Gillespie
Todd Johnson

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