"Paws & Hearts"Animal Assisted Therapy


Become a Volunteer

Our Canine Ambassadors at Work

Become a Volunteer

Training a dog to be a therapy dog is very much "on the job training." The difference between the first week's visit to a facility and the visits 1 month, 2 months, etc. are totally different.

We are always on the look-out for great therapy dog wanna-be's.

Over the years we have seen many dogs in the office that were incredibly cute to look at, but they didn't possess the personality traits to take on the responsibilities of Animal Assisted Therapy.

Being a 'cute' dog to look at, is so not it. The cuteness of the dog really has nothing to do with the dog's personality, nor does breeding. In order for your dog to be considered for this most rewarding type of work, look at your dog and ask yourself these questions:

1) Is my dog comfortable in all situations, i.e. coming into contact with strangers on the street, or walking the isles of Lowe's or Home Depot?

2) Will my dog allow total strangers to come over and say hello? And will my dog greet the person with great interest and curiosty?

3) Does my dog greet visitors in my home with eagerness and affection? Does my dog want to be the center of attention and make guests happy that they've come over to visit?

At "Paws & Hearts" Animal Assisted Therapy we love temperament testing potential Canine Ambassadors and coming up with winners. Consider what will be required of your dog by reviewing our website, and watch the videos of a hospital visit and a temperament test. If you think your pooch has what it takes, we really want to hear from you!

Please watch this training video if you are interested in becoming a volunteer.

Click Here
to watch our training video

Now that you have read through this information, seen the video, and understand what it is we are looking for in a potential Canine Ambassador, please give our office a call at (760) 836-1406 to have your first informal interview. If the phone interview goes well, you will be invited to complete the formal Volunteer Application.

Please keep in mind that we are located in a seasonal area. The desert is home to many "winter snow-birds." We only accept full-time desert dwellers who are able to make an initial commitment of one-year, visiting their assigned facility each and every week.

Richard and his mascot dog, Maddie, look forward to hearing from you!

Richard, Scruffy and Maddie

After your initial phone interview

Click Here

to download our Volunteer Application


It is January 2019 and "Maddie" the mascot of our organization is going to have surgery on a torn ACL. It would appear that her much younger partner-in-crime "Bingo" played a little too hard with this delicate little girl. So, let's highlight Maddie and all the work she has done for over six years. Her story--

Maddie came along when Scruffy was about 10 years old, and little did he feel like a young companion. However the two of them quickly melded together and hospital visits were pretty amazing. Scruffy finally had to retire and Maddie carried on with visits.

Maddie currently visits Desert Regional Medical Center with her new buddy Bingo Monday's and Thursday's. And Wednesday and Friday's both of them together with Uncle Drew visit The Lucy Curci Cancer Center, and Brookdale in Rancho Mirage.

Maddie is the most gentle of pups. In many ways she is Lucky reincarnated. Maddie likes nothing more than to curl up with a patient and have them pet her. She is quite partial to the male clients she encounters as she is truly a big flirt with the men!

Whether it is lying on someone's chest in the hospital, curled up in someone's lap in a chair at the cancer center, Maddie is as sweet as they come. She just likes everybody and wants to make everyone she visits feel a little bit better!

We are happy to report that the little sweet-heart came through the surgery like a champ! The recovery will be pretty tough for a very active dog as she has to spend most of her time recuperating in her crate/condo. But her Dad and Bingo are at her side, and the weeks of recovery will fly by and Miss Maddie will be back in action in no time!

We have had and continue to have some of the greatest volunteers who make all the difference at "Paws & Hearts" and in the lives of the people we visit.

Click on the link below.

Some of our past "Volunteers Of The Month"

Visit our Canine Ambassadors at work page to see
our Canine Ambassadors working out in the field.

Click the link below.

Our Canine Ambassadors at work.

"Paws & Hearts" Animal Assisted Therapy founders Richard, "Lucky" and "Scruffy" Waxman. Since "Lucky" and "Scruffy's" passing, "Maddie" has become the face of the organization and the reigning mascot! She was trained by the best, "Scruffy!"

"Maddie" has a side-kick who she has trained on her own, "Bingo". For the past year he has been accompaning "Maddie" on her visits around the valley.


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"Paws & Hearts" Animal Assisted Therapy
74-133 El Paseo, Suite 7, Palm Desert, CA 92260
Phone (760) 836-1406
Fax (760) 836-1426