Helping Paws has over 30 years of experience training and placing service dogs with individuals with physical disabilities, veterans/first responders with PTSD, and facility dogs with hospitals, mental health professionals, and courthouses. Helping Paws service dogs increase independence, improve quality of life and provide companionship.
More About The Helping Paws Programs:
Having a service dog empowers people who have a physical disability with independence, self-confidence, an increased connection to the community and sense of belonging. The dogs can perform or assist with a large number of activities of daily living. They can retrieve objects that are out of reach, open and close doors, turn light switches off and on, position their bodies so a person who has fallen can pull up on them, bark for alert, find another person, and many other tasks—about eighty (80) commands in all. All Helping Paws service dogs are trained in the physical tasks just described. But for veterans and first responders with PTSD they also provide specific assistance that allow their partners to feel more comfortable in public, reducing isolation, depression and anxiety. We have also seen a reduction in the need for medication and improvement in sleep for many of our recipients of PTSD service dogs.
The training and matching of a service dog is a long labor of love, taking about 2 ½ years to complete. It requires thousands of volunteer hours and an investment of about $30,000, which covers the costs of operating the training facility, program development, volunteer training and support, and lifelong support for each working team. Helping Paws accomplishes its work through three interconnected programs that support dogs and graduates throughout life:
• Breeding Program: Our breeding females live in a caretaker home where they have their puppies and the pups are raised and socialized for the first two months.
• Foster Home Program: Foster home volunteers take a puppy into their home for approximately 2½ years, during which time they oversee the dog’s training and development. Volunteers and dogs attend weekly training classes and expand on sessions with daily practice in home and public settings.
• Applicant and Graduate Program: When service dog training has been successfully completed, each dog meets and works with a number of prospective recipients. Once a match has been made, the recipient and service dog undertake an intensive three-week “Team Training” period to learn to work together. Helping Paws continues to work with graduate teams to support the needs of human and dog throughout their partnership.