It Never Happens to You Until it Happens to You

How often we hear people say “This sort of thing never happens.”  In reality, disaster can strike at any time, and it is important for a SD team that you have a plan in place that will safeguard both members in the event that either an internal disaster (ie: fire in the home) or an external disaster (ie: storm or wildfire) forces a sudden evacuation.

While Red Cross shelters will accept service dogs, it is important for all handlers to accept some responsibility in assisting the Red Cross in their decision making so that they may have confidence they are addressing public safety issues.  This means that all handlers are responsible for maintaining up to date records on vaccinations, and ensuring that these records may be produced upon request.

Make certain that you have designated both primary and secondary alternate caregivers.   These individuals should be trusted family members or friends who your dog is familiar with, and who have agreed to accept responsibility to come pick up and care for your dog in the event that a temporary separation is needed.  We recommend that you set up a folder on the Drive associated with your email account.  It is advisable that you share this folder with your designated alternate caregiver(s), so that in case you are incapacitated for any reason and a temporary separation of you and your SD / SDIT is required, your alternate caregiver(s) are able to access any necessary information.  Inside of this folder you should store all of the following information:

  • Proof of all required vaccinations, inc. rabies, DA2PP and Bordatella
  • Receipts as proof that you are providing heartworm and flea/tick preventive treatments
  • All veterinary visit notes
  • Once annual note from your veterinarian stating that your SD / SDIT is in good health and able to safely perform their duties
  • Proof of training if you are enrolled in or graduated from a credible training program; this may include your program ID or a letter (on letterhead) from your training program
  • Feeding schedule – you should have instructions including mealtimes as well as type and amount of food to be provided
  • List of medical issues – if your dog has any issues, including allergies to food or medications, this must be included
  • Favorite comfort items – be certain to include information on any comfort issues for your dog, for example favorite toys.
  • Location of important items in your home –  in the event that you are separated by a medical crisis, the alternate caregiver must be able to retrieve food and other items from your home such as bedding, bowls, food, etc.  Be certain to leave detailed instructions.

Home Evacuation Planning – make certain that your home evacuation plan includes your pets.  The American Red Cross has posted some helpful tips on creating an emergency plan for your animal on their website.

If you reside in a multistory dwelling, make certain that your plan includes the means to safely evacuate your animal(s) if you become trapped on an upper floor.  This will require advanced planning so that you can ensure availability of a harness that can be used to lower your dog out of a window safely to the ground.  You may also wish to have a crate available with your alternate caregiver, so that your dog can be crated in an emergency and prevent them from fleeing if they are frightened.

The time to plan is now, because once a disaster occurs it is too late.  Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Classroom News

Beginner Class

Solomon & Henry are getting better at retrieving different items around distractions and are now working on item recognition to see if he really understands that wallet mens wallet and meds means meds etc..   Henry is also making improvement with providing cues and feedback to Solomon in an effort to ensure positive team communications.

DeAnna & Scooby are making great progress with listening in public and retrieving items.  They have also mastered the command “closer” which will lead to learning how to block/cover and buffer the work space while in public.

Tina & Socorro: are making progress on performing commands at a further distance.  Socorro can now remain in a sit or down while the Tina is out of sight for 15 seconds, and they are working to increase this time.

Brian & Mando are practicing social distancing.   This team took their first outing together to Lowe’s to start generalizing commands in different places. Working on confidence building and rewarding calm behavior around loud noises is a work in progress and is coming along nicely, as is maintaining a solid heel when entering public spaces.

Celia & Caroline: have been hard at work on having retrieving a medicine bag out of sight and bringing it back to Celia. They have made significant improvements in the past month with regard to with remaining in an “under” and obeying the “food leave it” command for a increasing amounts of  time.

Soyini & Coco  traveled to Lowes for the first time and to work on obeying cues and working with distractions, as well as remaining at heel side. Though it was reported that the public did provide them with some access challenges, they were able to work through that as a team and make the experience successful.  Kudos to Soyini for following her training and addressing these challenges appropriately.

John & Simari are making great progress at off lead work with distractions , and also with practicing recalls around distractions.   The team has also developed a greater ability to target specific items. In the next month, we will focus more on having Simari locate items while they are out of sight.

Keeta & Dani have mastered the “emergency stop” as well as delivering items at a distance to a second person.   Their next goal is to increase both distance and types of  distractions.  Keeta is one of our student trainers and is training Dani for another individual in need here in our community.

Lindsey & Willow are learning item recognition and are making great progress.  Willow has learned how to carry bags for Lindsey while remaining at heel side,  and is able to hold them while walking and give the items back on command.  This is the second dog Lindsey is raising for someone in need here in our community.  Lindsey is also an Academy Intern and is working to earn her Master Trainer credentials.

Advanced Class

Irmarie & Bruno: This team is getting really close to taking their final certification test. They are hard at work at having Bruno practicing service tasks in different places and honing their ability to work reliability among distractions.

Samson & David: This team is also hard at work at generalizing service tasks in different places and are getting prepared for a practice certification test. Samson is great at retrieving items and helping David up from different positions. His ability to provide medical alerts is improving and the team continues to work on this important task.


Four paws up to military veteran Celia and SDIT Caroline for passing their Canine Good Citizen Test this month.  This is the first of three standardized tests that they must pass on their journey to become a certified SD team.  We are SO proud of their hard work and achievement of this important milestone.

Wellness Tip

When addressing grooming and care for your SD, it is important to incorporate oral hygiene into your routine.  Failure to care for oral hygiene can lead to periodontal disease, which in turn can cause serious complications such as systemic infections as well as heart, kidney and liver disease.  Here are some tips for providing oral care for your dog:

  • examine your dogs gums and teeth at least weekly
  • be attentive to unusually bad breath
  • use a dog specific toothbrush
  • use an enzymatic toothpaste designed for dogs
  • consider dental treats for your dog
  • ensure routine veterinary care that includes a dental check up

Thank You

Our sincere thanks to all those who have supported our program this past month.

  • Valerie Schluter

A very special thanks to the Apollo Animal Hospital for their ongoing support and high quality care of all FSDS owned dogs.

Photo Gallery

Thank you to our hard working students who have thoughtfully shared some  photos from the past month.

sept1 sept2 sept3 sept4 sept5 sept6 sept7 unnamed