In the Beginning …. Who is Pawsitive Teams?
Charli King and I started Pawsitive Teams (PT) in 1997 after being introduced to the world of service dogs while puppy raising for two different service dog organizations. We both embraced the concept but wanted to have more contact with those receiving these well-trained dogs and we also wanted to learn how to teach the essential skills. It was a group effort and we owe so much to Barbara Gosink, a radiologist at UCSD Medical Center. Barbara was truly a thorn in our sides at times . . . but we could never have taken Pawsitive Teams this far without her pushing us and giving us the confidence we needed. We found inspiration through our early affiliation with Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and the generous sharing of information other programs offered us. Our true mentors were Fidos For Freedom. They incorporated the concept of therapy dogs as a parallel part of their organizational structure of service dogs. This had been an idea on our minds from the beginning but hearing the Fidos Director share this at an ADI conference became the final confirmation we needed. We were definitely on the right track!
From the onset, it has been important to us to operate as a volunteer-inspired and volunteer-run organization. Everyone, from our beginnings, has played a major role in our structure. When we felt ready to add therapy dogs to PT, we formed our first Steering Committee that carefully guided us into a “goal directed” format in which we partner with organizations and follow the guidance of the professional staff member who has specific goals for clients. Our therapy dog volunteers then find creative ways to use the dogs as tools to help accomplish goals. Truly impactful.
Our individual service dog trainers are heavily involved with the dogs they train throughout both the training and placement with San Diegans with limited mobility. When frequently asked how we can give up our dogs, we often compare it to life with children. The child grows up and moves out of the house, but continues as a part of the lives of those who nurtured them during the early years. Because we only place locally, our trainers keep in touch with our graduates, who have also become members of our extended family.
We encourage you to visit our website and learn more about Pawsitive Teams. By Carol Davis