"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


In September of 2017 Bingo was a stray dog found in Coachella and put up for adoption by the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms. How this little 8-month-old terrier mix found his way to becoming second banana at "Paws & Hearts" is still a mystery.

A slow morning on the job...
lots of Ottoman time!
Even the nurses love
me at Lucy Curci!

However, 2 + years later Bingo is a pretty solid fixture who with his sister Maddie visit the Lucy Curci Center at Eisenhower Medical Center every Wednesday morning. While Maddie is quiet and reserved, Bingo is full-steam ahead to greet all his 'customers' in the radiation waiting room!

"Adoption Day"

Bingo has a natural ability to make everyone he meets smile because he has an infectious personality that just never stops. He loves to greet everyone he meets with a full-on wagging tail, and if asked, he will give plenty of kisses on command. And like all amazing dogs he's always up for a treat after a visit with a patient.

For the first year of Bingo's life, Dad referred to him as 'Bad Boy Bingo' but the bad boy has pretty much been dropped because he has grown into a really amazing Canine Ambassador therapy dog!

On the Ottoman at Lucy Curci,
just waiting for 'customers!'

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