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:

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

Volunteer 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, download, print and fill out our Volunteer Application.

Volunteer Application

Volunteers of the Month
We have some of the greatest volunteers who make all the difference in the lives of the people we visit.

Volunteers of the Month

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

Canine Ambassadors

Featured Volunteer


So, Terry has become the office mascot (just like his four predecessors) and his stock-in-trade is going out on presentations, and penning his column in the Newsletter!

Terry is the newest Executive Pup at "Paws & Hearts." Terry came along in July of 2021 just weeks after "Maddie" said good-bye.

To say that Terry has replaced or filled-in for Maddie on visits would be a huge oversight! Terry has many strengths, most of which are still being uncovered!

Terry was trained summer 2021 at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional and while he liked each and every patient and staff member he came across, he's a little short on the attention span that is so very much needed while on visits.

As long as Terry is in my arms in front of a group he is perfect! Chances are he won't be training any of the new recruits any time soon, but you never know, he just might surprise me!

"Paws & Hearts" Animal Assisted Therapy founders Richard, "Lucky" and "Scruffy" Waxman. Since "Lucky" and "Scruffy's" passing, both "Maddie" and "Bingo" are also at the Rainbow Bridge. "Maddie" gave years of visits until Covid and then sadly her time was up. And everyone knows that dear "Bingo" barely got started on visits and he was taken away way too soon.

While "Mr. Terry" is still honing his skills as a therapy dog (that's a good way of putting it) he is now the official face of the organization........and such a cute face at that!