Focus Areas for 2018
The FSDS was set up from the start to be a “gap program” – meaning that we have sought to address gaps in services for those with disabilities and provide solutions that are both effective and accessible to those in need. In simple terms, it has meant that we could not and would not conform to many of same policies and procedures of programs around us, for to do so would mean that we would only serve to perpetuate these gaps in our community. As we are fond of telling those who approach us,we are not here to tell you that our program is better or worse than any other, merely that we are different. Issues of “better or worse” are very personal, as what is best for one is not necessarily best for all.
Our program has gained a reputation of being a “court of last resort”, a beacon of hope for those who are unable to obtain services from other programs due to any number of reasons that include but are not limited to fiscal constraints, geographic proximity, or learning challenges brought on by the very nature of their disabilities. Some of the early issues identified that we have been at work on include:
- outreach services for those who reside in rural / remote areas and are removed from established SD training programs
- didactic education that will be accessible to those with learning challenges including but not limited to traumatic brain injuries, polypharmacy issues that result in impaired memory and concentration and chronic pain; this population of students can not succeed in traditional programs that train the dogs and mandate full time attendance at 2-3 week “boot camps” prior to receiving their dogs
- addressing learning issues for military veterans and first responders who are struggling with PTSD and require additional support, particularly for public outings
Our growth to date has been very slow and deliberate. We have established measurable objectives, and have carefully monitored these over the years. The trends noted have been used to drive program changes necessary to fine tune our services to better reflect the needs of our community. We set out with a clear vision of what would be needed, and devised a plan up front to layer our services in order to maintain a connection between programs that would allow us to achieve a greater stability. Here is 2018 our main focus areas for this year will be:
- capacity building
- growth of the SD Trainer Academy
- connecting our graduated teams with workforce opportunities
At the top of our wish list will be a dedicated training space that can be customized meet the unique challenges of our students, and increased staffing to meet the growing number of requests for services that we are experiencing. We are also at work to gather more effective data regarding the issues of public access challenges as well as problems posed by fake SD teams in public. This is particularly problematic for our recipients with PTSD, most notably military veterans and first responders, as these unpleasant challenges can trigger their PTSD.
We are looking for volunteers to get involved with any number of projects. If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact us for more information.
CB8 Beginner Class – this month we are delighted to welcome new student trainer Victor Contreras to our class. Together with his wife and two young sons he will be working with SDIT Eastwood. Students are hard at work on Intermediate obedience skills.
CB7 Advanced Class – our students are hard at work to complete all requirements for graduation, and looking forward to their final certification testing next month. With the final certification test only a month away, public outings and mock tests are in their future for the month of March.
As the warmer weather approaches we remind all of our readers to take precautions to protect your dog from the dangers of sun / heat exposure. We pause this month to share some safety tips to help you protect your best friend.
Heat Exposure – heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real concerns. Limit your dogs exposure to hot temperatures. Remember that your dog is wearing a fur coat and can easily overheat. Be vigilant for early signs of heat exhaustion such as panting and excessive drooling. If not addressed, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, a true life-threatening problem. Some safety tips are:
- limit outdoor time on hot days
- carry an ample supply of ice cold water for your dog, and provide them with drinks of water at frequent intervals
- if you plan to attend an outdoor event such as a concert where you will be seated, bring an umbrella for shade as well as a battery powered fan and a spray bottle of water to keep your dog cool.
Sunburn – did you know that your dog can sunburn? It is true, and dogs with very short hair or fair skin. The best protection you have is NOT to overexpose your dog to the sun. The tips above apply. Consider taking walks in the early morning or evening hours when the sun is not as strong, or carrying an umbrella to protect your dog from sun if outdoors in the middle of the day.
Our sincere thanks to those who have supported the FSDS mission during the past month:
- Valerie Schluter
- Barry MacKean and Teresa Ledzinski
- Martin Chorzempa
- Michael Anastos
- Marlin and Judith Lloyd
- Glenda and Jimmie Montgomery
A very special thanks to our friends at the Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club for their hard work in planning and hosting a Car Show during the month of February to help support our program. The monies from this event will be used to help us fulfill our mission of providing service dogs to military veterans in need.
Essay Contest: SD Trainer Academy Scholarship to be Awarded to Winner
We are pleased to announce that the FSDS will hold it’s first ever essay writing contest, with the prize to be a full scholarship to the SD Trainer Academy. This scholarship is valued at $3,000. The scholarship monies were a generous donation from Dr. Margaret Brown, in loving memory of her husbands first SD “Dorjee”.
Applicants must submit an essay that is between 2,000-2,500 words and answers the following questions:
- Why do you wish to become a SD trainer?
- Why do you wish to work with the disability community?
- What qualities do you possess that make you a good candidate for this program?
- In what type of setting do you see yourself working in 5 years? 10 years?
- What type of personal connection, if any, do you have to the military and first response community?
- be a U.S. citizen
- be a permanent resident of AZ for at least one year
- be at least 18 years of age
- be interested in SD training as a career path
- have no history of felony conviction or pending charges
- have no history of illicit substance abuse
- be willing to obtain a fingerprint clearance card
- be willing to remain with the FSDS for at least 2 years after graduation
Applications will be accepted between Feb. 1 and April 30th. The winner will be announced in late May. Essays must be:
- neatly typed
- 12 point font
- standard 1″ margins
- fall within the word count ranges specified above; those that fall below or above the word count requirements will not be considered.
Please include a cover page with your essay with the following information:
- Name and contact information (email and phone)
- Mailing address
- Place of birth
You Are Cordially Invited…
This year, in recognition of our 10th anniversary of service to AZ, the FSDS will hold graduation as a free event, open to the public. In past years, we had held graduation at a lovely venue, with a catered meal to celebrate the success of our teams. This year, we have opted for a different approach. We much prefer to hold this very special occasion, a combined graduation and birthday party, as an outdoor free event open to the public. Our rationale is that we would much prefer to each cake from a paper plate with all of our friends and supporters at our side, than to eat a catered meal with a select few in attendance. 10 years of service is a milestone not only for the FSDS, but for the entire community without whose support this day would never have arrived.
We are pleased to announce that the keynote speaker will be Chief Roy Minter from the Peoria PD. Many thanks to Michael and Priscilla at the Silver Rose Bakery in Peoria AZ for offering to donate a very special custom cake for the event.
A few other surprises have been planned for the event. The Event will be held:
Date: Saturday, April 14th at 11:00 a.m.
Location: Centennial Plaza, 9875 N 85th Ave in Peoria, Arizona
We look forward to seeing all of our friends there.
March 17th – Armed Forces Support Group Golf Tournament. 10 a.m. at the Granite Falls South and Desert Springs Golf Courses in Sun City Grand. A portion of the proceeds each year go to help support our mission to provide SDs to military veterans in need. This year, we are honored to be recognized as their showcased program. If you are interested in participating in this event please download their brochure. AFSG Brochure 2018
March 24th – Barkfest from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. at Sonoran Mountain Ranch Park in Peoria AZ. FSDS will be on hand to provide canine FA and CPR demonstrations as well as information on SD issues.
April 14th– FSDS Graduation and Anniversary Party – 11:00 a.m. at Centennial Plaza, located at 9875N. 85th Ave, Peoria AZ. The event is free and open to the public. Please note that this event was originally scheduled for March 24th and has been rescheduled to allow for participation by some key recipients
Our dogs were treated to a special photo shoot this past month, courtesy of Scott Sefranka. Many thanks for these wonderful photos! Also included are some photos from the tremendously successful car show event hosted by the Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club.