Announcing a Mini-Series of Topics

Starting this month, and for the next year, we will be posting a monthly educational topic intended to benefit our Outreach evaluators, and to inform the community about SD issues.  Each month we will pull one topic from our SD Trainer Academy Program and highlight an important educational point.  This month our topic is pulled from SD 101.  The full courses are available online for interested parties.

The Canine Training Industry, of which the SD Training Community is a subset, is unregulated and fraught with some difficulties.  It is our hope that an organized approach to education will help to raise the bar, and translate into outcomes for those in need.

The Culture of the SD Community

The SD community is a subset of the disability community, and has a culture all its own.  For so many SD teams in our community, their days are marked by constant public challenges, marginalization and exclusion.  Here at the FSDS we believe that the best way to shape positive behaviors is through education and helping individuals to change their belief system.  If the belief systems in society change, so will behaviors.

A Handicap Differs from a Disability

In contrast to a disability, the term handicap is used to describe how these physical limitations affect the ability of a person to accomplish daily tasks.  For example, the disability of a spinal cord injury and paralysis that has left a person confined to a wheelchair imposes the handicap of being unable to navigate steps and walk.  The purpose of accommodations is to provide the level of assistance necessary to prevent a disability from handicapping a person.  The FSDS believes in “recognizing the disabilities while celebrating the possibilities”.

The Service Dog (SD) Community

The service dog community is defined as those persons who have disabilities and are partnered with SDs, and those individuals who are training SDs and must bring their dogs into public with them each day as a part of the training process.

For those with disabilities, the additional challenges that arise due to the fact that they are partnered with a dog are added to the regular burden of daily challenges imposed by their physical disabilities and need for special accommodations.  Added to this are the issues such as ignorance of SD laws, fear of dogs, or those who attempt to pet the dogs while they are working.

For those who are training SDs, discrimination and challenges may arise from those who are ignorant of the law and attempt to exclude the team from public access because the dog is not yet fully trained.

What is a Service Dog Team?

In order to be considered a working team entitled to public access, two conditions must be met:
1.  The person must have a disability that meets the ADA definition that was discussed in the previous chapter.
2.  The dog must meet the ADA definition of service dog as described above.

What it Means to be Disabled

There is a difference between being disabled and having a disability.  Consider the following two statements:

  • You are a disabled person
  • You are a person with a disability

What is the difference between these two statements in reality?  Though many in society use these statements interchangeably, they are really saying two different things.  To illustrate this concept, let’s draw some analogies.

  • If your car is disabled, it will not run
  • If you disable an alarm system, you render it silent
  • A disabled motorist is broken down by the side of the road
  • If your toaster or other small appliance is disabled, it is broken

Thus, to label something as disabled the implication is that it is broken down, silent and will not run.  To apply this to our discussion, it would follow that a disabled person is regarded as broken down, silent and unable to function.  In contrast, a person with a disability, is a person who has a limited, specific disability.  This statement does not imply that the person is globally broken down.  Individuals with disabilities are not broken down.  They still function, just not the same as they used to.

The key difference is that in the first scenario of being a disabled person, the disability has the person and is in control.  In the second scenario of a person with a disability, the person has the disability and is in control.

Thus, the common practice of labeling a person as disabled has led to the misconception that individuals with disabilities do not function.  This false assumption has led to marginalization, exclusion and discrimination.  While a label of disabled may work well for mechanical devices, it does not work well for people.

Changing Public Perception

It is our belief that changing the shared experiences of society from an early age is the best way to effect sustainable changes in public attitude towards SD teams.  The FSDS is particularly proud of its youth-based training program.  By placing the program on a high school campus, this changes the every day experience of not only students, but teachers, support staff and administrators as well.  Individuals on partner campuses are accustomed to having the dogs present as a part of their community.  The dogs have been welcomed and are embraced as members of the campus community.  This has translated into attitudes of acceptance, which will stay with them long after graduation and benefit teams they encounter throughout their lives.

SDs are gaining popularity in the community as we gain better understanding of the many ways that dogs are able to assist individuals.  As the number of dogs in the community increases, this will slowly bring about a change in attitude.  For those of you who are about to become a SD team, your actions today will pave the way for a better tomorrow for the next generation of teams.

Other topics offered in SD 101 include:

  • SDs and the Law
  • Public Access Requirements
  • Community Issues Surrounding SDs
  • Bioethical Treatment of SDs
  • Transitioning a New SD
  • Canine Wellness
  • Canine First Aid and CPR
  • Travel and Special Situations

If you are interested in enrolling in the SD 101 Course, please contact us.

Classroom News

CB8 – our advanced class is gearing up to take their Public Access Test and have been hard at work perfecting their ability to work in public with distractions.

CB9 – our new class started this past month and we are pleased to welcome our new students.

  • Nicole Joy is the wife of a Peoria firefighter, and is attending class with her daughter to train a dog to assist with the special needs of her precious little girl.  Their SDIT “Dakota” is a Golden Retriever with a great temperament.
  • Irmarie Del Valle is a college student who is training her Golden /Retriever “Bruno” to assist her special needs son.
  • Betty Davis is a local resident who was awarded the Dorjee Memorial Full Scholarship to attend the SD Trainer Academy.  As a requirement of her training she is raising a Black English Lab named “Ernie”, who will be awarded to a deserving military veteran of first responder at the end of the training.
  • Kellie Kelley is a retired pilot and is attending class to train a chocolate lab named “Titan”.  Kellie comes from a long line of military and first responders and looks forward to Titan’s future service to a deserving veteran.

To all of our new students, we extend a warm and fuzzy welcome to our FSDS family!

SD Trainer Academy

Congratulations are in order for Amanda Van Asdall, who has recently completed the requirements for Junior Trainer.  She has entered her Senior Level and we are looking forward to great things from Amanda as she progresses through her training.

Trademark Infringement

We wish to begin by expressing appreciation to all of our readers who have been vigilant over the years in detecting and reporting instances of logo misuse.  The FSDS is vigilant as well, and this past month another such case was detected.  This is the 3rd case in the past few years, plus one additional attempt that was thwarted.  Cybercrime is a rampant problem in society and to combat this problem will take the involvement of all.  It is unfortunate that for every case we detect, in all likelihood there are others that continue to “fly under the radar”.  It is very important to us here at the FSDS that we set and enforce the highest standards for the protection of all of our teams. If you encounter any use of our logo that appears suspicious, please contact us immediately.

Welcome New Board Members

We are excited to announce that our Board of Directors has recently been joined by two well qualified members.

Dr. Erica McFadden currently serves as the Executive Director of the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. Erica has more than 20 years of experience working with various non-profits in different positions in the disability field including: counselor, consultant, educator, researcher, grant-writer, lobbyist, marketer, and executive director. Most recently, she served as Senior Policy Analyst at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy where the majority of her research focused on addressing disability policy issues in Arizona.  Erica has presented at numerous conferences and published academic articles, book chapters, policy briefs and reports on disability with a special focus on governance.  She holds a PhD in Public Administration & Policy from Arizona State University, an MSW from Virginia Commonwealth University, and dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Erica also has cerebral palsy.

Margarita Gonzales,MPA currently works as an Education Coordinator in the Employer Engagement Administration for Arizona@Work.  When she is not administering the State Eligible Training Provider List and tending to myriad other responsibilities, she is at work to complete her dissertation for her doctorate degree.

Wellness Tip

The holiday season is officially upon us, and we would like to take a moment to remind all readers about animal safety during the holiday season.

The following foods are toxic to dogs and should be kept out of their reach:

  • chocolate
  • caffeine
  • raisins
  • macadamia nuts
  • onions
  • garlic
  • fatty foods (can cause pancreatitis)

Please keep all candy and nut dishes off of coffee and end tables and out of the reach of your animals.

In addition, please do not feed bones from your holiday ham or turkey to your dog.  Bones can splinter and become lodged in the soft palate, causing injury to your dog.

Holiday Decoration Safety Tips

  • Protect water from live trees that has aspirin – do not permit your dogs to drink from the water.
  • Glass tree ornaments can shatter and cause injury to your dog.  If swallowed, shards of glass can cause perforation injuries to the intestines and necessitate surgery.
  • Bubble lights for trees can contain methylene chloride, which once ingested is metabolized to carbon monoxide and can be toxic.
  • Supervise dogs around decorations at all times.

Be certain to keep your dog in a supervised area during holiday parties to prevent them from getting out of the house.

Many thanks to…

We wish to express our appreciation to the following for their support of our program during the last month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • DAV Auxiliary Unit 1
  • CR Bard Foundation and Bard Employees in Tempe
  • Karen and Don Hodd

We also wish to thank the good people at Blue Sky Organic Farm for their hospitality during our recent field trip to their beautiful facility.


We want to welcome our newest Outreach Evaluator Catherine Munnier from Hillsborough, NC.  We are delighted that she has joined our family.

Upcoming Events

2018 Holiday Party TBA

Photo Gallery

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