HANDLER'S CLASS – this will be scheduled on a Wednesday from 7-8:30 p.m.
- Do not bring your dog to this meeting.
- Will be held at the Fidos building (FYI, unless otherwise specified, everything is held at the facility) – you will receive an email with date/time/room or meeting.
- Required for all persons wanting to handle a dog at a Fidos event, whether the dog belongs to you or not. If more than one person in your family is planning to handle the dog at classes or on visits, then BOTH persons must attend the handler's class. In addition, both persons must sign a photo release, a waiver, have a Volgistics computer log in (which we will explain at the meeting), and complete a volunteer application.
- Fidos therapy dog team requirements will be emphasized.
- All persons attending the handler’s class must be over 18 years. Persons under 18 years of age, even if they are family members, may not handle dogs on the training floor unless they are a part of the Fidos Juniors Program.
- The review of our "do's" and "don't's" for dress code, behavior, handling dogs around medical equipment, respecting patient privacy, and more.
- How Fidos keeps track of new teams: Introduction of the Sign in for training classes in the new teams binder. The class instructor will sign off next to you. This is NOT the same as the binder with the calendars that everyone else uses to track training.
- Why Fidos is not the same as the other organizations, and what we do differently (i.e. two Fidos-trained adults must be on every visit, only one dog per Fidos-trained adult).
- A discussion of “Volgistics", our computer system that allows you to sign up for visits and get announcements. You will receive a password for Volgistics after you attend the handler's class.
Once you received the password: Go to the Fidos website and sign up for Volgistics, then do three things:
- Sign up for the email Volunteer Announcements list (VolAnnouncements). You will learn about Volgistics at the handler's class. All announcements come through here from this point forward. BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDERS MULTIPLE TIMES TO ENSURE THAT YOUR MESSAGES AREN'T GETTING TRASHED.
- Go to the "My Profile" tab and enter your contact information and photo. This will allow visit coordinators to contact you if a visit is cancelled or dates or times are changed. Make sure to keep this information current.
- Read the article "He Just Wants to Say Hi" by Suzanne Clothier linked on the front page of Volgistics.
- There will be time to ask any questions about Fidos procedures or requirements.
- After class, join the closed Fidos For Freedom group on Facebook. We post announcements for closings and other important things there as well as sending them via email. If you don't have Facebook, don't panic. But this is a nice fail-safe for Volgistics email, and probably the fastest way to communicate information these days.
When you have completed all of the requirements (Handler's Class, 2 observations visits, 4 Wednesday Training classes) bring your completed form to Beth for approval. All teams are subject to approval by Beth prior to going on visits. Some teams may need a little more practice before visiting. Once approved, your dog will receive a Volgistics password (in addition to your password) and you're ready to start your visits.
- From now on -- track your two training sessions/month in the white binder by circling the appropriate calendar date.
- ALWAYS ASK BEFORE LETTING YOUR DOG GREET ANOTHER DOG. Not every dog likes having new dogs in their close personal space (refer to the "He Just Wants to Say Hi" article on Volgistics please!). This includes having your dog come up quickly behind another dog and sniff from the rear!
- 3 second meet and greet rule for dogs when both parties have agreed to let the dogs meet.No lingering hello's! Just a quick sniff and move on. The dogs will learn quickly that when they come to Fidos, they are there to do their "work" and spend quality one on one time with you!
- No retractable leashes - 4 to 6 foot lead only. Retractable leashes can cause injuries when they malfunction, and do not offer good control of your dog. Your dog should only be at the end of the lead during an exercise. Most of the time they should be right next to you. Electronic collars/remote training is also not permitted in the facility.
- Be aware of where your dog is at all times! At a busy event, it is entirely possible that someone could decide to unhook your dog from his/her leash and go walking off if you are paying attention to something else!
- Respect the class caller. These people are volunteers with Fidos who have a lot of good information to share. You may have done visiting with other organizations, but please don't interrupt to talk about that--allow them to share what they know about Fidos with you! I often learn new things. Ask questions but do so when it is appropriate.
- Have conversations OFF of the training floor in the lobby.The acoustics of our training room carry sound, and even your quiet conversation at the edge of the floor can be very disruptive for someone who is trying to hear what's going on.
- When class is over, move conversations off the floor so the next class can begin setting up. Do not clog the ramp.
- Wear your nametag. It's always easier to learn the dogs names, but we want to learn one another's names too!
- Wear appropriate attire. Handlers are expected to wear Fidos colors (red, black or white) when representing Fidos at events. Jeans are only acceptable at outdoor events (ie: RennFest).
- Potty your dog before class.There are two official potty spots - one at the corner of the parking lot, and one around the right side of the building as you are facing it. Both spots have poop bags for easy clean up. If your dog has an accident during class...poop happens. We have paper towels and Nature's Miracle by the gallon. If your dog needs to go during class, take a break.
- No open back shoes for people(clogs, flip flops) that could get stepped on.
- If your dog is intact, don't bring her to class if she is in heat.
- Watch male dogs that may mark. If for some reason your dog does urinate/defecate, use one of the potty buckets with clean up supplies and be sure to use a generous amount of nature's miracle to prevent that spot from becoming a new place for dogs to mark.