Learning to Drive

No one ever learned how to drive from the passenger seat, and no one learns how to train dogs by solely studying online.  It is our belief that SD training must be approached as a contact sport.  As we continue to grow and improve your ability to educate others, we have taken care to ensure that our means of providing education to future SD trainers truly reflects best practice.

Early on, the FSDS piloted our training program as youth training, and this was delivered on a local HS campus.  Due to circumstances beyond our control, it became necessary to separate our program from the (at that time) partner school and transition it to a community-based program.  This new program provided exciting new opportunities for us to include youths from across the Phoenix Metro area, as well as interested adults.  We also committed at that time to a broad expansion of our training in order to deliver a more robust curriculum.  This new curriculum would offer training and credentialing at four levels from novice, Jr., Sr. and Master Trainer.

Under the old system, student trainers were required to complete the Service Dog (SD) 101 course.  Under the new system, not only has SD 101 undergone improvements, but we have created a full SD Trainer Academy offering three courses at each of four levels, for a new total of twelve courses, each of which is the equivalent of a three credit college course.

Students are also assigned a mentor, and as they work on the completion of their required courses, they gain valuable hands-on experience in working on administrative tasks in order to understand fully how a SD program is set up and operates behind the scenes.  Our goal has been to create a unique program that will turn out qualified and confident trainers.

Along the way, students are also required to log a minimum of 300 hours of hands on training experience (75 hours at each level). This total number of hours of experience matches the requirements of the Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT) to sit for their credentialing exam.  CCPDT is recognized as the only national certifying body for dog trainers, and those trainers who are able to earn their credentials gain credibility as qualified trainers.

We turned to CCPDT recently to inquire about having our Academy courses approved for continuing education (CEU) credits, as CCPDT mandates that all credentialed trainers complete a requisite number of hours during each re-certification period.  We are proud to report that upon review, all courses submitted were approved for credit. This includes SD 101-SD 402.  The SD 403 course is currently undergoing improvements and will be submitted in the near future.  This attention to detail and approval by a national credentialing board provides assurance of the quality of our program.  We note that several years ago our canine safety courses were approved for similar CEU credits for law enforcement professionals by the AZ Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (AZ POST).

Recently we have been blessed to establish a wonderful collaborative working relationship with the Phoenix Workforce Solutions Program.  Through this program, students who enter our Academy are able to qualify for pay and may earn while they learn.  This pay covers their tuition to Academy, as well as other expenses and pocket money to help pay bills. We are at work behind the scenes to earn additional credentials.  We will continue to build bridges with others in order to remain a connected and vital part of our community.

It continues to be of great importance to us as we grow that we construct all courses in a manner that represents best educational practice, and voluntarily submit to scrutiny to ensure the integrity of our program.

Classroom News

CB8 – our current students are making excellent progress,and have now all passed their Public Appropriateness Test.  These students are all now awarded their yellow in-training vests and have permission to present in public with their dogs.  Kudos to all!

CB9 – this class is scheduled to start later this Fall, so stay tuned.  Though the seats are mostly filled, we do have 3 more seats remaining.  Through a collaborative working arrangement with the Workforce Solutions Program in Phoenix, qualified students may be able to earn while they learn, turning this learning experience into a paid student position that will cover their Academy tuition and leave them with money for other expenses.  Interested students ages 16-24 should contact the FSDS for more information .

seal of transparencyFSDS Earns Platinum Seal of Transparency

We are proud to announce that this past month we were awarded our Platinum Seal of Transparency from Guidestar.  This is the highest level achievable.  We pride ourselves on transparency in reporting program metrics and financial data and will continue to do all we can to earn your trust.  Click here to view our profile page on Guidestar.

Wellness Tip

It is that time of year again as hurricane season ramps up, for us to provide some timely advice on emergency preparedness for our teams.

Natural or unexpected disaster can strike at any time, and as a team leader you are responsible for the well-being of your team.  In the event that evacuation to a shelter becomes necessary, the Red Cross will accept SDs at their shelters, but they have the right, in the interest of public health and safety, to determine team credibility.  We recommend that you take the following steps to prepare for the event of a disaster:

  • Make certain that your family evacuation plan includes your dog.
  • If you have the potential to require evacuation from an upper floor, be certain that you have worked out a safe way to get your dog out a window and to safety.
  • Store all medical records and all proof of team training and certification on your Drive and have this accessible from a remote location; in the event of an emergency such as a house fire, there may not be enough time to retrieve the vest and certification materials.
  • If you reside in a flood prone area, have life jackets for all family members, including your dog, available and consider the purchase of an inflatable raft, if indicated.
  • Store hard copies of your dog’s medical records and training in the same area as food and medications, so that in the event you must pack quickly, the items are easy to gather and time is not wasted searching for important documents or needs.
  • Create a pack list for your SD in the event that you are given an order to evacuate and are able to pack some important items. This list should include but is not necessarily limited to:
    • Food
    • Medications
    • Medical records
    • Proof of training and certification
    • Necessary working equipment such as vest, booties, harness, lead
    • Bedding
    • A comfort item such as a favorite toy
    • Life jacket, if applicable
    • Food and water bowls
    • Any necessary grooming supplies

Thoughts and Prayers

We continue to keep military veteran Jacob Cosper, his family and particularly his 6 month old baby girl Everlee in our prayers.  Everlee is awaiting a liver transplant, but is tough and is hanging in there.  We are all hoping for a positive outcome.

We also offer our prayers to military veteran Tom Linton, distinguished member of the AZ Veteran’s Hall of Fame and recipient of his SD “Charlie”.  Tom is awaiting surgery and we wish him smooth sailing and a speedy recovery.

Thank You

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

  • Valerie Schluter
  • DAV Auxiliary Unit 1
  • Network for Good

Job Posting

Program Auditor – we are seeking the services of an independent program auditor for our Outreach Program.  This is a per diem position.  The ideal candidate will have experience in dog training and program management, and be able to travel periodically as needed.  Interested applicants can send a resume to the Executive Director.

Upcoming Events

Sept 4th, 2018 – presentation to the Westbrook Village Veterans Support Club

Photo Gallery

This past month though some of the students have been on vacation, Brianna Espinosa took tome to visit the workplace of recipient Latrice Jackson-Anderson, at the Peoria PD.  Latrice will be awarded “Hamilton” and as a part of their training Brianna and staff traveled to the police department to acquaint Hamilton with the new work environment.  Once awarded, he will join his buddy, Oliver, who is now a sworn officer in the department working in the Victim Services Division.

Brianna and team latrice and hamilton at work Latrice and Hamilton