Somewhere to Belong

When we meet someone for the first time, we often ask the usual question, “What do you do?”.  What we are asking is “Who are you”, “What is your function in society?”, and “Where do you belong?”.  Many of us spend our working lives working a career in a specific job area.  For many of our recipients with dangerous jobs, they live with the reality that in the blink of an eye this can all change.  For a soldier, police officer, first responder or other who has been wounded in the line of duty they face the loss of not only physical function, but their entire way of life.  Many report that they are unable to return to their jobs, causing loss of identity, friends, job and purpose.  They are left feeling disenfranchised, and find themselves side-lined in life.

When the FSDS was founded, we began with a realization of this, and an understanding that despite the obvious physical disabilities that individuals are faced with they have so many more possibilities.  The FSDS accepts recipients as members, not just clients.  The same is true for our student trainers.  Thus, our members are free to remain engaged long after graduation.  The FSDS is committed to providing opportunities for members to remain involved, to have a place to belong, and to take the skills that they have learned and put them to use at home in our community to promote service dog education and awareness.  Most importantly though, it is our hope that this will translate into greater social support, personal satisfaction and an improved quality of life for our members.

Classroom News

Estrella Mountain Campus– the recipients have arrived, and what a strong group we have.  After having an opportunity to work with several dogs, the teams have now been matched and the student trainers are hard at work mentoring their recipients and customizing the final training to meet the needs of the recipient.  This past month we also signed a new contract to start a new class on this campus in the Fall, and we are excited about this.  Applications are now being accepted.  Graduating seniors from this class are also eligible for hire by the FSDS, and we will be hiring program graduates as student interns to work with us in the coming year.  It is important to note that this class is run as Career and Technical Education, and creating a viable career path for our graduates has been a priority since the start.  Student interns work to complete a total of 6,000 hours of education and training, while earning a salary.  These students, as part of career preparation, are required to submit a resume, a job application and a letter explaining why they feel they are the best candidate for the position.  Candidates must participate in an interview process.  Stay tuned to find out which of our stellar students will remain.

Paradise Valley Campus- this past month we have witnessed the transition from students plus dogs, to unified teams.  The student trainers are doing an extraordinary job of helping their dogs to master basic obedience tasks, and working on public access behavior.  There is much to learn, as so much that we take for granted when we are in public has to be re-learned as a team.  Automatic doors, elevators, moving displays, all of these things when encountered for the first time can be frightening to a dog.  Our students have demonstrated great patience and understanding and are to be commended.

Thank You!

Our sincere thanks to West Kenyon from S1 Design, for his hard work.  West is a volunteer member, and has donated his professional talents to re-design our logo and tackle many other projects for us.  So- be on the lookout for our new logo coming soon to our site.

Safety and Wellness Tip

Spring clean-up is just around the corner.  When considering planting outdoors, remember that cocoa mulch is toxic to dogs and is to be avoided.  Many plants such as ferns, cactus, oleander and others should not be accessible to dogs.  Also remember that as the weather warms, venomous spiders, snakes and other pests may lurk in piles of rocks, wood and grass.

AVCO Free Eye Exams for Service Dogs

This year once again, during the month of May, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (AVCO) is offering free eye exams for service dogs.  Y0u can learn more about this program by visiting their website.  Handlers will need to register their dogs during the month of April in order to schedule their dog for a May exam.  We encourage all service dog handlers to register their dogs and take advantage of this wonderful program.

Photographer Needed

We are looking for a photographer to volunteer their services at our upcoming graduation.  If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us for more information.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, March 8, 2014- Armed Forces Support Group Golf Tournament at Sun City Grand.  Student teams will be on hand from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. to meet and greet veterans.

Saturday, May 17, 2014- FSDS Graduation 2014 at the Glendale Civic Center from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.  Tickets are now sold out.  If you are interested in being placed on the wait list for tickets, please contact us.  This event is made possible by the generous sponsorship of APS.