Building Bridges

From the start, the FSDS training program has set out to connect youths with military and first responders.  Our mission has been to recognize and reward those who have served the community, and to provide youths with opportunities to get to know these individuals and learn first hand the dangers of the job.  It has long been our belief that in order to stem the tide of violence against first responders, we must make efforts to reach out to our youths, and to help them to develop a healthy relationship with these individuals.  At no time in our history as a community has it ever been more important than now, as violence against first responders has risen sharply.  A recent article calls attention to the fact that police officer deaths have risen by almost 20% so far this year.  A quick visit to the Officer Down Memorial Page reveals that thus far in 2017 there have been 82 law enforcement professionals killed in the U.S. and it’s territories.

Violence against officers is just the start.  Violence against all first responders has been on the rise, and several states are just starting to enact laws that make assault against any first responder a felony offense.  For the first time, society is beginning to realize the dangers inherent for all first responders.  This type of behavior should not be tolerated.

The FSDS youth-based program is built around certain core values and beliefs:

  • Youths are capable of greatness and it is up to those responsible adults they interact with to help guide them
  • Our youths must be regarded as agents of positive change in society
  • Instilling in our youths a belief that community service is a desirable behavior is vital to our success as a society
  • Connecting youths with military and first responders and allowing them to work side by side builds strong bridges and inspires respect and cooperation
  • A life spent in service to others is a life well-lived

Our program continues to strive to nurture and support those youths who believe that their voice matters, and that they are never too young to make a real difference in our world.

Classroom News

Advanced Class – our newly promoted advanced class has entered the final phase of training, and has begun the task of teaching the dogs to perform those service-related skills that will specifically mitigate the disabilities for the handlers.  It is this specific task training that sets a SD apart from emotional support animals, therapy dogs and other dogs, under ADA law. Kudos to Zanna Fehr and her SDIT Duke for their excellent work this past month in navigating elevators.

Our program is designed in three phases, each phase 6 mths long.  Phase I teaches those critical basic obedience skills that set a foundation for future success.  Phase 2, the next 6 mths teaches public access appropriateness.  Phase 3 provides task specific training, as the dogs have now arrived at an age where they have the maturity to focus on these upper level tasks.  Our students have all accepted this new challenge and are off to a fine start.


Youth trainer Heather Vedeler and SDIT “JW”

Beginner Class – we are in the process of welcoming a new class, and have been fortunate to secure four beautiful puppies thus far.    We are also excited to welcome in some new student trainers.  We welcome back to our program Brianna Espinosa, who is currently fostering one of our new Golden Retriever pups.  We also welcome Heather Vedeler, pictured at right, who will be training a sweet and gentle Golden Retriever pup named “JW”.  Also joining our class will be Lindsey Carlson, a young woman who is currently being home-schooled.  Lindsey will soon receive one of our beautiful purebred Standard Poodles.  This year, for the first time, we are excited to be able to secure two such beautiful poodles from a reputable breeder as a hypoallergenic option for those with family members who may suffer from dog allergies.  More seats are available for local youths who are interested in participating.  If you are interested in enrolling your son or daughter in our program, please contact us for information.

Wellness Tip

Fall arrives later this month, and we are reminded that some Fall yard clean-up will be in order.  Summer monsoons bring with them an overgrowth of weeds, and these provide hiding places for snakes and other dangerous animals.  Here is AZ, as well as in other places in the nation, Fall brings a break in the hot weather and it an ideal time for dogs to get outside to run and play in the yard.  Remember to remove all possible hazards from the yard:

  • Ensure all gardening tools are out of reach
  • Rake up and remove any tall grass or piles of leaves where snakes or spiders can hide
  • If you are planning to put new mulch in your garden beds, avoid use of cocoa mulch as this can be toxic for dogs
  • Remove rock piles from the yard
  • Inform your pest control service that you have animals and ask them to use pet-friendly products
  • Keep all animals indoors for at least 24 hours after spraying pesticides or herbicides

With Appreciation

Our sincere thanks to those individuals who have generously donated to support the FSDS mission this past month:

  • Valerie Schluter
  • Jessica Etheridge
  • Mark Fowler / AZ Alliance Traffic School
  • Disabled American Veterans

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.

Photo Gallery

Enjoy some photos of the new puppies we have welcomed this past month for our upcoming class.

JW 4 mths JW day 3Poodle pup1Poodle Pup2Amanda and ShadowAmanda Jacob AbigailDaisy and IndyZanna and DukeAbigail and Oliver