Connected By One Leash Recap
At the start of 2021, the world still faced great uncertainty. Would 2021 be just like 2020? The one thing Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH) was certain of was that the need for life-changing therapeutic programs and service dogs among our brave Warriors would not change. Did you know that each Paws for Purple Hearts dog impacts dozens of Warriors and countless lives during their training? Every month in 2021, we handed off the leash to a different Connected By One Leash spotlight whose life was impacted by the love of one of our dogs.
The very first connection a PPH service dog makes is with our staff. Starting from when they’re puppies, to when they are ready for placement, our dogs will be with their professional Program Instructors, learning commands and building a special bond with them. In January, we showcased the impact that one dog can have on our staff members.
Due to our industry-leading Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® program, where veterans get the chance to reinforce commands and behaviors that are vital for a service-dog-in-training, each dog will impact 40 – 60 Warriors during training. In February, we spotlighted Michael, a Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® participant who enjoyed working with the dogs so much that he became a Puppy Parent and then applied for his very own PPH service dog.
All of our therapeutic programs are conducted under the caring eyes of the veterans’ therapists so that our program can be tied back to the participants’ treatment goals. In March, we met Allison, a VA Recreational Therapist that works closely with our Bay Area team.
A Puppy Parent is a very special volunteer that opens their home to a Service-Dog-In-Training when the dog is not with its trainer. Puppy Parents often help by taking a dog over the weekend and during holidays. They show their dog the ropes of household living and are committed to shaping an exceptional future Service Dog. Our April spotlight was Amiee and Sophie, a mother-daughter duo who worked with San Diego’s Service-Dog-In-Training “East.”
After a dog completes its training, it will be placed as a Service Dog with a deserving Warrior. Even though this is the last time the leash will be passed, the dog’s mission has really just begun. As a human-canine team, Warrior and Service Dog will continue to grow together. The first service team to be matched in 2021 was David and “Scout.” Check out their unique story as they went from partners in Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® to partners in life.
In June, Paws for Purple Hearts celebrated 10 Years of Warriors Helping Warriors. Our teams were connected nationwide virtually to celebrate our anniversary. In honor of the anniversary, each team gave a virtual tour of their facility and shared the history of their site. We also sent out a huge thank you to everyone who has supported our mission over the past 10 years.
As the celebration of our 10 Year Anniversary continued, we featured our CEO Dr. Bonita Bergin as our July spotlight. Dr. Bergin invented the concept of the mobility Service Dog in 1978. She went on to open the Bergin University of Canine Studies in 2004, where the concept for Paws for Purple Hearts was born. Now, Paws for Purple Hearts maintains a close relationship with Bergin University giving us access to the best dog trainers, the highest quality dogs, and the latest cutting-edge dog training and handling methods.
In August, we held our second 2021 Service Dog Graduation. “Liberty,” “Drew,” “Sergeant,” and “Regean” were matched with their forever Warriors and spent two weeks bonding with and learning to work together as teams. Check out the Graduation Ceremony here.
The connection between a Service Dog and its battle buddy is unmatched. For our September Connected by One Leash spotlight, we continued to celebrate our newest Service Dog teams and showcased a team training recap.
In addition to therapy participants, Puppy Parents, and Service Dog recipients, a PPH dog also leaves a lasting impact on our general volunteers. At Paws for Purple Hearts, we deeply appreciate all of our volunteers. From cleaning to filling kongs, general volunteers make a big difference in the successful day-to-day operation of our facilities. One special group of general volunteers is the Brooks/Perkins family. This family has been volunteering with Paws for Purple Hearts Virginia since its opening in 2015. In 2017, Bob adopted “TomTom,” a Career Change Dog, who has become a central part of their family.
“Chapman” was born on September 7, 2020. He started his training journey by conducting window visits with Warriors at the Menlo Park VA before traveling to San Antonio to work with his trainer Erica. He has made a huge impact on the Warriors who participate in Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® there in South Texas. “Chapman” truly embodies what it means to be Connected by One Leash.
Thank you to all the spotlights in our Connected by One Leash campaign. It takes a village to raise a Service-Dog-In-Training and we are grateful for everyone that supports our mission!
You can help us in many ways, for example volunteering with us or just spreading the word about us to the Warriors you know in your community. You can also help financially.
It costs $35,000 to fully train and raise a top-tier Service Dog who will impact countless lives. Consider supporting a Service-Dog-In-Training to build your lasting connection by making a donation here.