How to Eat an Elephant

This past month I was reminded once again of an old adage…and how our take on this differs from commonly accepted belief.

If you ask most people the question “How do you eat an elephant”, the most common response is likely to be “One bite at a time”.  Here at the FSDS, we have a different philosophy.  We believe that regardless of how slow you go, and how many bites you take, if you attempt to eat an entire elephant two things will happen:

  1. You will have an epic case of indigestion.
  2. The elephant will spoil before you could finish, resulting in waste and depriving others of their part.

In this case, the proverbial elephant is the amount of work that must be done to keep the FSDS running and continue to provide services to meet the growing demands of our community.  Our response to the age old question is:

“The best way to eat an elephant is to invite the entire community to share with you.”

How true this is.  There is much work to be done, and the FSDS is actively looking to recruit the assistance of many here in our community to assist us.  There are many service dog programs that continue to sprout up in our community.  Often however, the costs are too high.   It does no good to continue to build programs that price out those with the greatest need.  If the programs are not financially accessible, then they are of little use.

The FSDS program has worked hard to hold down costs.  Despite the fact that we are nearing our 10th year of service here in AZ, we do not have a dedicated facility.  we have worked to hold down any administrative / overhead expenses, which has permitted us to provide SDs to those with the greatest need.  We provide SDs at no out of pocket cost to wounded military veterans and first responders.  We provide low cost SDs to families with chronically ill children, who due to their overriding medical expenses can not afford a down-payment or even a monthly payment plan to afford a dog from other programs.  For these individuals, the FSDS program has become a court of last resort.  It has become commonplace for us to hear from those accepted into our program that they had all but given up hope of assistance, and that acceptance into our program for them comes after many long and frustrating years of searching.

The FSDS administrators work from home, and we have been blessed with the gift of shared facility space in our community.  This has served to hold down the cost of services.  Though we lack the physical trappings of other organizations that may serve to impress at a first glance, what we have built is a program that truly works and is able to serve the most vulnerable members of our community.

As we near our 10th birthday, we send out an invitation to all to come share this elephant with us.  We need individuals with the following skills:

  • Event planning
  • Graphic design
  • Hands on assistance at events
  • Student trainers for the upcoming class

Our event planner, Mr. Gary Noble is looking to put together a committee to work on events and our upcoming graduation / birthday.  This is our “elephant sharing party” – and you are all cordially invited!  Please contact Gary for information on how you can become a part of our team.

Classroom News

Advanced Class – this past month our advanced class took their AKC Canine Good Citizen Tests.  We are pleased to report that the class performed well.  All of our students have done an outstanding job this past month, but there are just a few who deserve additional mention this month.

Pearl Willis and her SDIT Adara are doing a great job and we have observed that Pearl demonstrates outstanding abilities as a team player and a leader.  The same can be said of Amanda VanAsdall and her SDIT Shadow.  Pearl and Amanda are both young teens with a heart for serving their community and a willingness to extend a hand to others in need.  Recipient Catherine Teel gets four paws up this month for being a diligent and courteous learner.  Catherine keeps wonderful notes, and has been willing to share her own notes with any student who may have been absent.  She is noted to be kind and considerate to others, and has earned the respect of her classmates.  Many thanks to LeAnn Fuller for taking such beautiful photos of our teams and for her willingness to share these photos with others.

Beginner class – the new beginner class is scheduled to begin the first Saturday in November, so stay tuned for further information.  Enjoy the photos of our adorable new puppies in the photo gallery below.

Wellness Tip

IMG_1817Dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin, is a problem that can affect dogs.  Golden retrievers are notoriously susceptible to this condition.  Also known as “hot spots” that can be worsened by the dog picking, biting or licking at the affected area.  This can arise from anything that irritates the skin, such as a bite or minor infection, or constant licking due to stress or boredom.

It is important for all handlers to check their dog for hot spots on a regular basis.  In the event that you should discover a hot spot, consult your veterinarian immediately so that proper treatment can commence without delay.

Halloween Safety

October is here, and the Fall decorating and festivities are officially in full swing.  Halloween can be a scary time for your dog, and it is important for all handlers to be sensitive to the body language and needs of your SD.  Remember the following:

  • spooky or moving displays in stores can be confusing and frightening for your dog; approach slowly and let your dog observe from a distance at first before inching closer
  • keep all candy dishes well out of the reach of your dog, chocolate, macadamia nuts, raisins and other sweet treats are toxic to dogs
  • always supervise your dog around any costumes
  • keep home decorations out of reach of your dog; many items, if ingested, can cause intestinal obstruction and result in a need for emergency surgery
  • if you plan to have your SD at your side when answering the door for trick-or-treaters, make certain that they are on a leash; even a well-trained dog can run if frightened

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Thank you

Our sincere thanks to the following for their generous support of our program this past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Shirley Holbert
  • DAV Auxillary

Upcoming Events

October 14th, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.: This fun and family friendly event is designed to promote public safety.  The FSDS will be on hand to provide information on service dogs as well as hands-on demonstrations on first aid and CPR.  The event will be held at the Pioneer Community Park located at 8755 N. 83rd Ave, Peoria AZ.

October 21st, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.: Western Avenue, Avondale, AZ.  The FSDS will be on hand as a part of the Vetfest activities to provide information on SDs to veterans in need.

Photo Gallery

Enjoy some photos of our teams in training!  Many thanks to LeAnn Fuller for granting the FSDS permission to use these lovely photos.

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