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Facility Dog and Specialist Therapy Dog

 In Facility Dogs, General, PPH Blog, Specialist Therapy Dogs

Paws for Purple Hearts improves the lives of America’s Warriors by providing the highest quality assistance dogs and canine-assisted therapeutic programs. Most people know that our primary goal is to place our dogs as Service Dogs with a Warrior to assist with mobility and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, but due to the rigorous requirements of being placed as a Service Dog, we provide other options as well.

Facility Dogs

Facility Dogs have undergone extensive training at Paws for Purple Hearts and are placed with a handler to visit and perform tasks, spread love, and bring joy to patients at Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, military hospitals, or similar facilities. These dogs work hard to boost morale, create a welcoming atmosphere, and provide a friendly face to engage with patients. They shake paws with patients, provide a gentle snuggle in their lap to help comfort them, and promote healing by working with their handler to give the best care to Veterans. The dog’s handler is also their caregiver. They manage the dog’s daily activity and ensure the dog receives routine care. And of course, maintains contact with the PPH staff whenever support is needed! 

Ralph is one of our Facility Dog graduates that trained at our San Diego location from February 2017 until January 2020. He was placed with his handler Lori at the Palo Alto VA, where the team absolutely loves brightening Veteran’s days. They have made a tremendous impact during the pandemic, also providing a lot of joy and support to the VA staff while they fought hard to take care of all their Warriors.

Ralph holding his Facility Dog vest
Ralph holding his Facility Dog vest

Specialist Therapy Dogs

Specialist Therapy Dogs are placed with clinical individuals such as counselors, psychologists, physical therapists, psychiatrists, and teaching specialists for Veterans and Active-Duty Service Members who could utilize dogs in their client’s care. Our staff trains these specialists, so they know how to properly care for and handle these highly trained dogs to best implement their abilities to benefit their clients. Our staff provides support as needed, but the clinical professional serves as the dog’s primary caregiver and handler.

Elma is one of our Specialist Therapy Dog graduates that trained at our Ruther Glen location from January 2018 to November 2019. She was placed with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Sara, and the team works at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson’s (JBER) 773rd Civil Engineer Squadron in Anchorage, Alaska. Together, they assist high-risk groups of personnel to support their well-being, the squadron has expressed how highly valuable she is to their team and to their state of mind while at work.

Elma supporting a Warrior at work
Elma supporting a Warrior at work

Our priority is to simultaneously serve Veterans and Active-Duty Service Members with the best canine-assisted therapy and assistance dogs while also making sure that the dogs are placed in the most suitable environment for their personality and will maintain the best quality of life. We take great concern and consideration into evaluating the best placement for our dogs which sometimes means doing a full career-change and allowing them to be adopted as pets! We work hard to operate as a nonprofit and continue growing to provide dogs to Veterans and Active-Duty Service Members and to facilities that care for them. If you think you would be a good fit to be a Facility Dog handler or Specialist Therapy Dog handler, you can visit our website to apply or contact us first if you have any questions. You can also support Paws for Purple Hearts by volunteering, donating, or simply telling your friends and family about us!

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