"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 looks forward to hearing from you!

After your initial phone interview

Click Here

to download our Volunteer Application


June, 2021

Maddie has just gone to the Rainbow Bridge and it is important that she is now the Featured Volunteer so that her long career (never long enough!) can be shared to serve as inspiration to other potential volunteer dogs.

Maddie & Scruffy on one of their first visits together.

Maddie was just 8 months old when I adopted her, and Scruffy was already 10 years old. How she made poor Scruffy's life crazy those first 6 months with her puppy-like charm! But on her very first visit to Eisenhower Hospital she transformed into the therapy dog she always had in her. Gone was all the puppy mischief and nonsense, and it was replaced by the most gentle, caring, affectionate little dog who just looked right into the patients eyes, and curled up just like Lucky used to. And all of a sudden, she and Scruffy fell into perfect synch that lasted all through their years of visits together.

The most gentle of Canine Ambassadors!

Maddie was probably the most gentle of all the dogs I've worked with. She just went with the flow and would visit anybody and be thrilled to do it. She spent the last couple years of her working life going to the Lucy Curci Cancer on Wednesday mornings with her younger buddy, "Bingo." Maddie passed on her therapy traits to her new little side-kick and they were a cute little team together. Maddie just liked everybody the instant she met them. She was partial to men though. She loved cuddling up in the laps of the male patients!

Maddie visiting patients.
What a comfort she was to everyone she interacted with!

Sadly, our visits had to come to a halt because of the Corona Virus, and Maddie's Cushing Disease finally took its tole. But for 10 years she truly gave back to the community her love and affection as a consummate Pet Therapy Canine Ambassador.

You were the best Maddie! You will be very much missed by everyone who knew you.

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
The Berger Foundation Building

42-600 Cook Street, Suite 138, Palm Desert, CA 92211
Phone (760) 836-1406