Graduation 2016

It is hard to believe that another year has flown by, and once again we ready ourselves to graduate yet another extraordinary class of students and recipients.  As always, we pause this month to send a special message to all of our program participants.

To our teens– we are so very proud of your achievements, and of the young adults you have grown up to be.  It is humbling for us to realize that the challenges faced by our recipients that could not be corrected by the brightest physicians and the best technology, have all been set right by you and your dogs.  Thank you for providing such a positive role model to other teens in our community and for reminding us never to underestimate the power of our youth.  You have set out to help a hero- and in the process you have become the next generation of heroes in our community.  On graduation day as you courageously turn over your dog to the recipient, you forever take your place as a true hero to us all.  A life spent in service to others is a life well spent.  You are on a good path in life and we encourage you to continue to give to others throughout your lifetime.

We know that turning over the dog you have loved and trained to the recipients will be bittersweet.  While you are over-joyed that your recipient will now be able to enjoy a good quality of life thanks to your efforts, you will miss your constant companion.  Know that this is not good-bye nor is it the end.  You will stay in touch with your recipients and you will see each other again.  Like your parents have raised you and you will one day leave home and venture out into the working world, you have raised your dog and it is time for them to leave home to work.  You will return home for visits with your parents, and there will be visits for you with your dog as well.

To the parents– thank you for the privilege and honor of allowing us to take this magical journey with your son/daughter.  You have done a remarkable job raising a strong, confident and extraordinary young adult and they will one day be leaders in our community.  Though many parents boast about their children, few can truly say that their son/daughter has been hailed as a hero.  You will forever be able to say this.  Our sincere thanks to you as well for opening up your hearts and homes to care for our dogs.  Your contribution in this process has made a tremendous impact- take pride in the role that your entire family has played in changing lives for the better.

To our recipients– we are so blessed to have such a strong and capable group of recipients.  Over the past year we sometimes have to remind ourselves of the disabilities, because the possibilities you have displayed are limitless.  Your services to our community throughout your life have been recognized and appreciated, though for some of you this assistance has been a long time coming.  Nonetheless, the time has come to say thank you in a tangible way for your unselfish devotion, courage, compassion and commitment to make our community a better place to live.  As you graduate, you cease to be a “me” and you become a “we.  Go in peace, thrive and enjoy the quality of life that you deserve with your new best friend.

To our wonderful teaching staff– on behalf of the Board of Directors and administration, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your commitment to our mission and to personal excellence.  We realize that this is not a typical 9-5 job, and that there are many things you do on a regular basis outside of the classroom to make this program a success.  We have truly been blessed with what we believe is the best staff anywhere.

Classroom News

Youth-based class: this class will graduate on May 14th, after 21 months of hard work.  Our student trainers have all stepped up to the plate to mentor their recipients, and this m0nth they will mentor them through their final certification test just prior to graduation day.  Several students are planning to return to raise a second dog with the FSDS and we will welcome them back with open arms.  Kudos to Jolie Jendry and her SDIT Remy who completed their medical alert training this past month, and did an exceptional job.

Community-based class: our new community-based (CB) class is doing a fantastic job and we are so excited about how well this program is going.  Kudos to Dale Stevenson and his SDIT Gus for their mastery of the sit-stay command.  Another outstanding job for this team.  A very special mention to Det. Scott Sefranka and his SDIT Bigby on doing an exceptional job as a part of a webinar presented this past month to the Yavapai Library system.  The webinar brought SD education to Yavapai County Librarians so that they can pass along this information to their communities.  Scott took the lead in presenting and for this he is commended.


On behalf of all of us at the FSDS, congratulations to ASU student Kartiki Parupudi on successfully defending her thesis and earning her Master of Science Degree in Design.  For the past year, Kartiki has been involved with the FSDS training program to understand the needs of SD teams and explore the means to empower teams to harness the power of technology and better respond to emergency situations.  Her thesis was built around her desire to better the lives of SD teams, and for this we applaud her.

A Warm Welcome

20160428_134053Please join us in welcoming the newest member of the FSDS family, Gary Noble, as our new Event Planner / Fundraiser.  Gary is originally from Michigan where he grew up and went to school, graduating from Michigan State University with a B.S. degree in (Natural) Resource Development and M.B.A. degree with Marketing emphasis.  He’s worked in both the environmental, business, and nonprofit sectors for over 30 years in different capacities including regional planning, business line project management, sales and marketing, and most recently served as the initial Executive Director of a small environmental conservation nonprofit organization for 13+ years prior to working for the FSDS.  Gary brings significant fundraising, event planning, and grant writing experience and understands the challenges facing small nonprofits.  He looks forward to helping the FSDS grow and expand operations.  Gary moved to Arizona in Fall 2014 with his fiancé to be closer to their kids and grandkids.  He and his fiancé love hiking (especially in Sedona) and exploring Local, State and National Parks along with spending time with family.

IT Volunteer Needed

The FSDS is in need of an IT person to volunteer to perform maintenance functions monthly.  If you are familiar with WordPress and Google Apps for Small Business and interested in helping out, please contact us.

Thank You

Many thanks to Eric Pfister of Farmers Insurance for his generous sponsorship support for our upcoming Graduation 2016 Event.

Wellness Tip

Oral care for your dog is very important, and can prevent more serious problems such as renal disease.  Remember to brush your dogs teeth regularly with canine toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, and change out the toothbrush each month for a new one.  Inspect your dogs teeth and gums regularly and report any changes promptly to your veterinarian.

Upcoming Events

May 14th, Saturday is Graduation 2016.  Advanced ticket purchase is required, no tickets will be sold at the door.

Photo Gallery

This past month the two classes met for a play date.  It is an important part of the training for the dogs to learn how to accept other dogs outside of their usual pack (class).  Events such as this are also a great way for the advanced students to mentor the newer students.

frank groupbrothers katie recipient tony and katieAmanda_Levi_Lady Brenda_Lisette Caleb_Gaston