"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 past few months we've 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


"Dunkin" and his Mom Suze have been volunteers now for almost 3 years. Each and every Saturday this Volunteer Team visits the residents at Premier Care in Palm Springs.

Dunkin has become an amazing Canine Ambassador in his time with our organization. He tested incredibly well during his visit to the office and according to Suze's weekly volunteer reports, Dunkin continues to provide the very best in Animal Assisted Therapy Visits.

Suze describes her association with "Paws & Hearts" the best--

I knew Dunkin had a special gift the minute I saw him at the Palm Springs animal shelter.

We left the animal shelter, went to the vet and got him checked out, and then went to visit my Dad in the hospital. Growing up we always had a dog and I knew Dad would love having a dog in the house once he came home from the hospital.

I hadn't told Dad about Dunkin. We walked into the room and without a word Dunkin hopped up on the bed and settled himself down comfortably next to Dad, right under his hand so Dad could pet his head. The two of them fell asleep content and smiling, and I could literally see some of Dad's pain lifting. We visited Dad several times a day, every day for the next week, but sadly Dad didn't come home.

I don't know what I would've done without Dunkin then. Just seeing his smiling face helped me get through those days.

Then a year later I got very ill and after life-saving surgery and 2 weeks in hospital, I was sent home in a body brace that I had to wear 24/7 for the next 4 months.

I absolutely know with every fiber of my being how much Dunkin helped me recuperate and heal. And I realized that this special dog needed to be shared. And that's when I discovered "Paws & Hearts".

Every Saturday for the last 3 years I have been fortunate enough to take Dunkin to visit residents at a long-term nursing facility close to our home. When we visit, each and every Saturday is humbling. It's truly an almost indescribable emotion for me. That I have a passionate need and desire to give back goes without saying.

The love and attention Dunkin gives to me, he also gives to people he doesn't know, but he knows these people need a little smile in their day. These long-term residents manage to forget their pain, their sadness, and their stress, by petting him for a few minutes once a week. Our pets always seem to know when we need a little extra attention and they snuggle up with us when we don't feel good. Works every time, right?

That's what I get to see Dunkin do every week. He leads the way throughout the facility, hopping up on beds, licking hands, giving kisses and smiling at everyone. And his smile is infectious!

We both look forward to seeing "his people" on Saturdays and every week he does great things, my amazing "Paws & Hearts" Canine Ambassador!

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's" passing, "Scruffy" has been doing all of the new- volunteer training himself. He has a new assistant, "Maddie" who is his side-kick on visits.


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"Paws & Hearts" Animal Assisted Therapy
74-854 Velie Way, Suite 7, Palm Desert, CA 92260
Phone (760) 836-1406
Fax (760) 836-1426