Therapy Animals From Paws-To-Share
Therapy Animals Provide Companionship Is Our Simple Idea
It all started out with a simple idea: anyone who wants a pet should have one (or at least feel like they do). Life has a tendency of getting in the way, however, and not everyone gets the furry companionship they so crave. Their apartment is too small, they’re in college or a senior living facility, or they’re simply not home enough. This is where we come in. Our goal at Paws-to-Share is to bring the love of a pet to you.
Therapy Animals Crave Attention
With this basic idea, we set about conceptualizing what the company would actually look like. We realized quickly that we were going to need a specific type of person to join the Paws-to-Share family. We’ll be the first to call ourselves “crazy animal people” and we knew that the handlers—the people who would take their pets on visits—would also have to be crazy animal people. But the primary concern, was the animals. We needed animals who craved attention! They needed to love going on visits, as much as their owners love going to work with their pet. Luckily, we’ve since found a few team members that fit this requirement, and it’s not just the founding members doubling as handlers (though we still go on visits).
Paws-To-Share Has Grown Rapidly
Nearly three years later and our team has grown to over 230 handlers and over 250 animals. We’ve made over 7,000 visits to over 70,000 people, and those numbers grow daily. We have four territories, including Orange/Riverside County, Los Angeles, San Diego, and the East Bay. It’s nearly too much to keep track of, but we’re loving every second of it.
What We Do
Put simply, our handlers and their pet(s) go on visits. The animals get their Paws-to-Share bandana on, and they know it’s time to go.
We work with numerous colleges, high schools, senior facilities, and individuals…basically anyone who wants to spend some time with a pet. Often, the dogs that go on college visits spend an hour playing non-stop fetch. A cat that goes to a senior living facility will spend time sitting on any lap available, just getting their ears rubbed.
There are as many kinds of visits as there are pets on our team, and we know that different visits are suitable for different team members. As always, we want to make sure it’s an enjoyable experience for everyone involved, especially our animals.
Why Do We Do What We Do?
We know from experience that time spent with animals can be healing. We also know that there are many animals that love being loved. Sounds like a pretty symbiotic relationship, no?
We’ve gone to dementia wards, and people who haven’t spoken in years will light up and start telling stories. We’ve visited colleges during finals, and watched the stress melt away while the students rolled around in the grass with a puppy. We even had a handler write to us thanking us for bringing purpose back into their life.
And let’s not forget that wagging tail or purr, which reminds us why life is worth the effort. Besides, there’s a kind of smile that only a pet can give you. We’re always looking for more handlers and animals to join the Paws-to-Share family, because as far as we’re concerned, getting to work and play with our pets is kind of the best thing we can think of.
So to all of you who have made this dream a reality, our sincerest thanks.
Jaime Goldfarb, Ph.D., President, Paws-to-Share