FSDS Launches Pawsitive Community Program

To coincide with our fifth birthday in February, the FSDS launched a new program called the Pawsitive Community Program.  This program is designed to encourage volunteerism in our community, and provide individuals who are unable to afford a service dog with the opportunity to earn their dog through community service.

This program provides yet one more option for individuals with disabilities to obtain a service dog.  The FSDS now offers three options:

  • Qualifying individuals who have provide significant community service in the past are eligible for full funding based upon past service.
  • Individuals who have not performed community service in the past, and are willing to document 250 hours of service prior to receiving their dog will qualify for full funding under our new program.
  • Individuals who do not meet either of the above criteria may be eligible for up to 50% funding, based upon availability of funds.

Those individuals who elect to participate in our Pawsitive Community Program may solicit assistance in serving their hours from family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

The FSDS has started an Hours Bank to assist those individuals whose disabilities prevent them from performing the full 250 hours.  Individuals from the community who volunteer with one of our Preferred Programs may elect to complete a Pawsitive-Community-Program-Time-Sheet, and submit it to the FSDS.  Those hours will be banked, and used to assist those individuals who are unable to complete all their hours.

It is our hope that this new program will translate into increased services to our community, and viable help options for those individuals with disabilities whose hope for a service dog has been out of reach.

Team of the Month

Riley & Seriani2Congratulations to Seriani Jasper-Llumiquinga and Riley on being chosen as our March Team of the Month.  Riley is a sweet and loveable lab mix, who will turn one year old later this month. Seriani has done a superb job, and as a direct result of her hard work, Riley has developed impeccable obedience.  Kudos to this hard working team!

Classroom News

AAEC class 2013_2Congratulations to our class on another excellent job this past month.  The students have been hard at work mastering basic obedience tasks, in preparation for their Canine Good Citizen Test.  The teams will be on hand on March 2nd at the Armed Forces Support Group (AFSG) Golf Tournament held in Sun City Grand.  The AFSG will once again this year sponsor the FSDS training program, and we are so grateful to them for their support of our students, program and military veterans.

Preparations are in progress for the start of two new training classes this coming Fall.  Those classes will be held on the AAEC campuses of Paradise Valley and Red Mountain High Schools.  Some of our existing teams will be on hand to help introduce the program to the new campuses, and serve as peer mentors for the new students.  As the program grows, students will be provided with opportunities to become peer mentors and gain valuable leadership experience.  Any parent interested in enrolling their son/daughter in this program is encouraged to contact AAEC High School directly for enrollment information.  This program is open exclusively to AAEC students enrolled on the campuses where the program are currently held.

Ask the Trainer by Terri Hardison, PhD

Q: I love my 2-year-old Labrador but I can’t stand it when he jumps on me when I get home. He also exhibits this behavior toward my guests which can be embarrassing! How can I teach him not to jump?

A: Jumping is an extremely common behavior issue with dogs, and especially for large dogs, it’s important that they learn to stay on the ground when greeting and playing so they don’t inadvertently hurt someone. For our Service Dogs, we need to ensure that they don’t put their paws on their owners unless specifically asked to do so.

First, it’s important to be very aware of when your dog might be receiving attention for jumping up. Sometimes we will push them down with our hands (which may be interpreted as petting or attention), and other times people will allow the dog to jump (“Oh, I love dogs. It’s OK if he jumps on me.”)

Once you decide to work on modifying your Lab’s behavior, you must make sure that at no time does he receive any form of attention, including eye contact, unless all four paws are on the ground. If he jumps up, you can either turn your back (though some dogs will keep jumping on your back), or you can slowly walk into your dogs space so he has to jump down and back up to get out of your way. During early stages of training, remain calm when doing this. Your calm demeanor will help your dog stay calm.

When your dog backs up, jumps down, or (better yet) sits and looks at you, lavish him with praise and petting. Most likely, the first few times you do this, he will begin jumping again. Once again, repeat the Zero-Attention rule until he’s got four-on-the-floor. Be patient. Your dog needs to learn two things: 1) Jumping results in no attention whatsoever, and 2) staying on the floor leads to lots of attention. He can only learn these things by trying them both.

One exercise you can use to practice is to tether your dog to a doorknob or other strong item with his leash so he is unable to jump on you. As you approach him (calmly at first), when he jumps up on you, immediately and abruptly turn your back and walk away out of his reach. Turn back toward him and repeat. Within about 10-15 repetitions (some dogs need fewer, some need more), he should realize that jumping sends you away and you should be able to approach without him putting paws on you. At this point, you can begin approaching in a more exuberant manner, again turning away immediately and abruptly when his paws come off the ground.

With regard to visitors, keep a slip lead (or a leash with the hook strung through the leash-handle) hanging on the doorknob. Before opening the door to visitors, slip the leash on your dog. (You can use your dog’s regular leash, of course, but many dogs get excited and think they are going on a walk when their leashes are clipped to their collars.) Do not let people pet your dog (or your dog greet your visitors) unless he is standing or sitting calmly on the floor. If he jumps, immediately back away (with him) and try again.

Again, be patient, persistent, and consistent with your training. Your dog has had 2 years to practice his bad behavior; it may take some time for him to learn a different way!

Safety and Wellness Tip

The first day of Spring is almost here, and that means that here in Arizona warmer weather is just around the corner.  This is an excellent time to inspect your dog’s working equipment to ensure that it is in good repair.  FSDS certified teams in need of a new pair of working booties to protect the paws from burns, are eligible for a discount as a certified team through the Ruffwear Pro Purchase Program.  FSDS teams who provide proof of certification will qualify for a 50% discount on the purchase of booties and all equipment for their service dog.  Please note that the discount may only be applied for your service dog, not any additional pets in the home.  Contact us for more information.

FSDS Receives Grant from Arizona Disabled Veterans Foundation

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Arizona Disabled Veterans Foundation for their recent and generous grant of $5,000.  These monies will be used to provide our military recipients with assistance in overriding expenses associated with the care of their service dog.

Foster Families Needed for the Upcoming Class of Dogs

The FSDS is looking for families willing to foster a dog who has been accepted into our program.  With the advent of two additional classes, we will be taking in an additional 17 dogs, starting this summer.  The dogs will need foster families until approximately the beginning of November, when they will be placed with AAEC students in the two new classes.  All foster families will be provided with canine safety training through the FSDS.  The dogs who are accepted will all have received veterinary clearance, spay/neuter, hip x-rays, all vaccines and de-worming.  Interested individuals are encouraged to contact us.