Friday, November 30, 2012

Celebrate the Human Animal Bond

With War Horse cast members on December 15 at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum.  Free to military members and their families.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tag Was Featured in the Globe Gazette!

MASON CITY — Tag checked out those sitting in the audience and he made eye contact with one.
You could almost see the light go on in his eyes: It was time to meet the group.
One by one, Tag, a 4-year-old yellow Labrador, greeted each person — sniffing hands, looking into faces — attending the talk by his owner, Staff Sgt. Dianne Raymond of the Iowa Army National Guard, also a volunteer for the Des Moines-based group, Paws and Effect.
Raymond was on hand to talk about the program’s efforts at the annual Fall Festival Fundraiser for the Humane Society of North Iowa held Sunday at the Mason City National Guard Armory.
Raymond is a puppy-raiser for the program and the owner of Tag, who came through the program. Tag at one time was a service dog for a man with multiple sclerosis but had to withdraw when he showed signs of claustrophobia.
Today, Tag is a “facility dog” who spends his days with Raymond at her job as Medical Services Board non-commissioned officer at Camp Dodge in Johnston. Tag is also a bit of a publicity hound — literally — for the organization.
The group trains leader dogs largely for the military veterans coping with permanent disabilities, as well as the hearing-impaired and autistic children.
After they are raised to 18 months, dogs spend two weeks with a handler before being matched with a veteran, she said.
“It’s interesting to see all those dogs pick their owners — they go right to a veteran and sit down right in front of them,” she said.
Tag is so in tune with Raymond, a diabetic, that he can sense when her blood sugar is dropping.
“He begins to run in circles, every time,” she said. “It was awhile before even I knew what he was doing.”
The dogs provide a valuable service, from opening doors and retrieving items to “putting themselves between their master and danger,” she said.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall Festival Dog Agility - 2012

A trip to the big city.

Paws & Effect service dogs are vetted with a trip to the Big Apple. Our puppy raisers and their dogs travel New York City and experience the sights and sounds of a big city, public transportation and civil aviation all in one round trip.

We applaud Ava, Sabre, and Pace for all they have done and will do to "Serve with Honor".

All personal items must be stowed under the seat in front of you.

No one said keep your nose clear of the isle.

Putting a smile on the faces of those that are serving our country with honor.

Catching a ride on the subway.

Quarker - Paws & Effect Fundraiser

Thank you Quaker for fundraising for Paws & Effect! We appreciate your efforts and those that benefit from our programs will be extremely grateful.

Your Valor and Enable volunteers have made a tremendous difference.

PS - I can't stop eating the Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Popcorn.

Fall Festival dog agility.

We all new it would be a great weekend of dog agility being held at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. The weather was spectacular and the military was hard at work.

Our competition was honored with the salute of gun fire and adorned with the sounds of black hawk helicopters in flight.

 To all that competed, we agreed that it truly was an honor to be amongst our military and all those that have served us and protected our FREEDOM.

Thanks to our volunteers and participants alike. We thank you for a successful weekend!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Work / Play Balance (office antics)

Archer was a working dog all week long but that didn't stop the rest of us from our typical advertising-agency-office-antics.

Thought I would share this photo with you. Nothing makes us laugh like a mustached dog.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Glad I could help, oh, and Archer too.

While Archer's* puppy raisers were out of town I made sure he was with me everywhere and did everything that I did (he didn't do everything I did but he did go everywhere with me).

During the week I found that a friend of mine was having some troubles with her twins. They were scared to the dickens (not sure what that really means but they were freaked out) by dogs. They'd scream and melt down when they would be in close proximity.

I had a thought and it involved a trip to the ice cream store (a huge big deal for me) but it was neutral ground for the twins.

Needless to say Archer was the perfect dog for the job.

Check out their story here.

*Archer is a Paws & Effect service dog

What does it mean?

A couple weeks ago I had the unique opportunity to work with one of our service dogs while one of our puppy raisers was out of town. Archer got to go to work with me and I got to go to work with Archer.

He had a positive impact on my day and gave the same positive spin to some of my officemates.

Here is what they had to say about having Archer around the office.

 Archer is a great companion because he is mellow but affectionate.  He relieves stress because of his demeanor and good behavior. I think it is clear that Archer is happiest with a single owner who can spend lots of time with the dog. - Adam Faircloth

 Having Archer in the office was a huge treat for me. I grew up with dogs, but I don't have the time/money/space to have one of my own now, so it was really nice to be able to take Archer and hang out with him while I worked, and to see him walking around the office with his other new friends. I also think having him here was great for morale because he brought a smile to everyone's face. He brought my stress level down a notch or two, for sure! - Megan Lowe

 It was a very calming effect. Anytime I hung out with him he calmed me down, got me in relaxation mode which helps the ideas flow and made it easier to work. It also upped the fun and happiness levels. - Brian Hanson

Animals do have an impact on our world in so many positive ways.

Thanks Archer.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Admirable Service

While it's not a feature article it is still a plug for service dogs of all kinds. Midwest Living magazine was running an article on service dogs and needed some photography to enhance the story. The magazine reached out to one of this countries only service dog photographers, Steve Hirsch, in order to secure an image to run in the magazine. Steve have donated a great deal of photography time to Paws & Effect and we are so proud that his shot of Tag (short name for Partager - French word that means 'To share') made the cut.

Please take the time to take a look at Steve's photography. Quite amazing. Thanks Steve! and Thanks to Tag for taking time out of his service dog work to pose for the camera.

A service dog named Tag.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A day at the track.

Paws & Effect was invited to the Newton Speedway to raise money through the sales of their 50/50 raffle at their NASCAR Truck series race on Saturday. Our volunteers spanned from Wells Fargo, The Integer Group, Legion Riders, and a handful of dedicated Paws & Effect Puppy Raisers.

They worked the sale to the tune of $16,000. Nothing like a good the raffle winner taking home $8,000 and Paws & Effect taking home over $4,000.

Now our puppies can get their spay and neuters done soon.

Thank you Newton Speedway for inviting us back to the track and to our volunteers! We hugely appreciate your effort.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dog attack separates veteran from his service dog.

One of Paws & Effect's successful service dogs was attacked on Saturday night. We wish both Mitch and Merritt the best. Merritt is currently back with his puppy raiser and Paws & Effect will work with him over the next few weeks to see if we can get him back on the road to a full recovery.

Watch the story on KCCI.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On Friday June 15, 2012, Jason Frankena presented a Pecha Kucha 20x20* on Paws & Effect. He's not new to public speaking but he'll also tell you that he'd rather be doing other, more exciting, things.

We applaud Jason's for choosing and appreciate his sincere belief in our program(s).

Jason at the 30-40 second mark (slide 2) of his presentation.
A snapshot of all 20 slides Jason presented taking only 20 seconds each.

PechaKucha 20x20 (FAQ) is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pup Culture - Staying the Course

We'd like to thank Pup Culture magazine for publishing an article about Paws & Effect's agility/therapy program.

Read all about it!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Paws & Effect and one of their service dogs (and his recipient) were featured on Iowa Public Radio - River to River.

Click here to listen to the story.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Scenes from a Service-Dog Graduation

It's a sultry spring Friday afternoon outside the Gold Star Museum on Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa. The sun is out, the wind feels soft, and you can smell the earth. Even the military-grade grass on the adjacent parade field is beginning to turn green. To every thing, there is a season.

Inside, there is happy chaos. A hundred little crises have come together in an event that seems part high-school graduation open house, part family reunion, part end-of-season sports team banquet. The mood is upbeat and bittersweet, and there's often not a dry eye or nose in the room. A few funny stories, an emotional music video, and plenty of puppies. Labrador Retriever puppies, both black and tan.

Nobody plays "Pomp and Circumstance" (or should that be "Paws and Circumstance"?), but, later, there will be marble cake. And a barbecue. Because nothing good happens in Iowa without grilling a sacrifice.

More than 50 people have turned out to celebrate the next steps forward for nine Midwestern veterans and their new canine partners. The dogs are psychiatric service and mobility animals, trained by Paws & Effect to perform physical tasks that mitigate conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.) and limited ranges of movement. They are trained to respond to their handlers' flashbacks or nightmares, for example, or to retrieve objects that are out of reach.

While the animals no doubt also provide an emotional or therapeutic benefit—in covering these kinds of stories, news reporters typically cite here the calming effects of pet ownership—they are not pets. Neither are they "companion," "emotional support," or "stress-relief" animals. They are working dogs, heading out into a working world.

Since 2006, the Des Moines, Iowa-based non-profit organization has trained therapy and service animals for Midwestern veterans and others, and educated and advocated regarding laws requiring service-animal access to public spaces. The organization is often augmented by trainers from Canine Craze, West Des Moines.

In the past two weeks, the veterans have met their service dogs for the first time. They've lived, eaten, slept, played, and worked with their partners, developing emotional bonds and basic understandings.

Think of it as Boot Camp, but with paws. After graduation, everything else is on-the-job training. And annual refresher courses.

As with military training, classroom presentations are followed by field exercises. The veterans, now dog-handlers, learn to navigate venues such as shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, and airport security checkpoints. When traveling by air, the dogs are trained to lay down in the underseat luggage area. The veterans practice the maneuver on a passenger aircraft parked at the Des Moines International Airport.

During the placement course, Paws & Effect temporarily bases its operations out of the Dodge House, a small, single-story facility across the street from the museum—and right next to the house inhabited by Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard.

Named after the same Civil War general from which the Camp Dodge takes its name, the single-story Dodge House is often rented for social and other events. It features a kitchen, a sunroom, and a expansive front porch. After classroom discussions there, the veterans train with their dogs until both are tired, then sneak an occasional cat nap. After dinner, they watch movies and play training "games." The veterans cheekily rechristen the building the "Dog House."

The March 30 graduation is the first and last time that many recipients will see the families who helped raise their animals as puppies. Puppy-raisers include both civilian and military foster families, who volunteer to help dog-trainers from Paws & Effect socialize, work, and train animals at home and in public. (Under Iowa law, service-dogs-in-training are afforded the same rights as other service animals.)

The puppy-raiser relationship lasts approximately 18 months, during which time the non-profit carefully monitors the health, training, and personality of each animal. Paws & Effect pays for food, medicine, equipment, and other expenses. One dog can cost the organization up to $25,000 in supplies, care, and training.

At the same time, Paws & Effect identifies prospective recipients through channels such as the Iowa National Guard and the Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit (C.B.W.T.U.) at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., an installation located on the Mississippi River along the "east coast" of Iowa.

While there have been other dogs placed individually, Friday marks the first formal placement course and graduation for Paws & Effect. Three more litters are already in the works for placement in late-2012 and early-2013. One is named after military land navigation terms, such as "Pace," "Ridge," and "Hilltop". The other is named after radio-friendly phonetic alphabet characters, such as "Charlie," "Oscar," and "Victor". (Nicole Shumate, director and dog-trainer-in-chief for Paws & Effect, reserves the "Alfa"-dog label for herself.)

The 2012 class notably includes "Ryder" and "Archer," two of the "Red Bull" litter named last year in honor of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division. Others still in training include "Havoc," "Avanc├ęz" (who goes by "Van"), and "Sabre."

The 2012 graduating Paws & Effect service dogs and their human partners are:
  • Anthem and Joe
  • Archer and Troy
  • Hero and Dustin
  • Honor and Wade
  • Liberty and Casey
  • Merit and Mitch
  • Roo and the Iowa National Guard. (Roo will be a "facility dog," used for hospital visits to wounded warriors, Soldier Readiness Processing, behavioral health assessments, and other missions.)
  • Ryder and Bill
  • Valor and Dean
The puppy-raisers have prepared "legacy" books—collections of letters, photos, memorabilia documenting their puppies' early lives. As groups of puppy-raisers, veterans, and dogs are recognized with applause, trainers and others tell stories about each match or pairing:
"It was clear that Anthem was going to be Joe's dog from the start," says Paws & Effect director Nicole. "I just wish Tammy had told me that Anthem liked carrots for rewards. And not just any carrots, mind you: They had to be coins. And they had to have ridges."


"I felt like I was writing a dating-service ad for my dog," says puppy-raiser Travis, about starting to write a note for Hero's legacy book: "'My dog is the best-looking and smartest dog.'" He ended up writing five pages.


"My dog is just the right balance of challenge and complement," says one recipient. Another says, "I got my smile back."


A number of the veterans observe the placement course was the first they'd slept soundly in a long time. Another veteran reports that, twice in one night, his dog had woken him from a nightmare by licking his face.


Nicole notes that one veteran had neglected to tell her that he might have a leg amputated in coming months. She and the puppy-raiser gave the dog a 6-day crash course in mobility-assistance skills, such as how to retrieve objects. "At one point, I was getting hourly updates: 'The dog is picking up keys ...' 'The dog is picking up frozen peas ...'" Apparently, the training took, she says, because the veteran later wondered why "the dog will not stop handing me things!"


Family members also offer words of wisdom, thanks, and humor. "During class, I was the one who asked one day about what happens when my husband and I start getting a little ... 'active,'" one spouse shares, to friendly laughter. "Would the dog think I was hurting him? The group decided I should ask you, the puppy-raisers, about that." As she makes eye contact with the couple who raised her husband's new service dog, the room breaks into giggles. Not to worry, the couple responds: The dog is fully trained.
After the laughter, as promised, there is cake. And barbecue.

"To everything, there is a season."

It is springtime in Iowa.

You don't need to be a dog to smell the possibilities.

This essay originally appeared on the Red Bull Rising blog, April 4, 2012. Photos courtesy of Paws & Effect.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

After eighteen months...'s awfully nice to see it come to fruition...

Congratulations to the first graduates of
"We Serve With Honor."

And ENORMOUS thanks to all the puppy raisers, dog trainers,
and other volunteers who helped make this a reality.

"Buried in Winter" ® 2010 Jeff Pianki
used with the permission of Jeff Pianki

"The grass grew in on the underside of the snow
And the summer had smelled so sweet
Now all I smell is cold.

"Your brother lived there
on the other side of the road
You still count the days,
before he makes his way back home.

"So hard to love,
when you hate to let things go.
and a dream will remind you,
you only have so much control.
though its been 2 years
it doesn't seem so long ago
cause I still see your face,
in picture frames and people I don't know.

"And I could live without you
but only if I had to
and now I have to.
So that's what I will do.

"The sun came up and melted all the snow
and the spring air smelled so sweet just like I used to know
and your brother came back in the middle of the storm
So you don't have to count on frozen fingers anymore."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Paws & Effect on The Pentagon Channel. Seriously. THE PENTAGON CHANNEL!

Four paws, two feet, and one healing heart are now the biggest thing within five walls.

Who'd a thunk - pretty cool, huh?!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Placement Course - March 2012

Paws & Effect is in the middle of the placement course which is pairing up service dogs with military veterans.
The dogs and the handlers both are undergoing a rigorous two week training and it is happening with great success.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Program Pairs Vets With Service Dogs

Thanks to KCCI News for putting together a great story about Paws & Effect's service dog placements happening over the next two weeks.

Click here to watch.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Super Special Request

In February, Paws & Effect was made aware of a particularly difficult circumstance involving an Iowa National Guardsmen who returned from Afghanistan this past July. This Soldier, who has served three combat tours and is not yet 30 years old, was diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). He is married with two young children and works full time for the Iowa National Guard at an armory. This disease will quickly deprive him of physical independence, with some symptoms already apparent. His lifespan is anticipated to be three years.

Paws & Effect immediately committed to placing Service Dog Archer with this Soldier to help offset his physical impairments. Archer will be introduced to his new family on March 19 and will return home with them on March 30. While the practice has been that each service member receive their service dog free of charge, Paws & Effect has decided to take this a step further: they are committed to seeing that no expense be borne by this family at any time to care for Archer. Paws & Effect is committed to covering all future food, veterinarian’s expenses, toys and unanticipated costs, so that other money can be utilized to support the family.

The Iowa National Guard made immediate accommodation to allow Archer access to work with this Soldier at the armory at which he is stationed full time. The Army, rarely faced with this circumstance, made clear their commitment with their swift response. Our hope is that the community will support this effort as well.

Please help us by making a donation to Paws & Effect. The immediate costs exceed $5,000. These include room and board while this Soldier attends a two-week training course at Camp Dodge, Archer’s annual exam, Frontline, Heartguard, a six-month supply of dog food, a crate, bed and toys.

Donations less than $50 may be placed online at Additionally, donations may be directed to:

Paws & Effect

Box 41442

Des Moines, IA 50311

or deposited directly into Paws & Effect’s account at Wells Fargo.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bacon Celebrity sightings

Libby and ...

Uhm, mmmmmm, BACON

Our service dog Libby attended an ultimate training challenge. "Baconfest" in Des Moines. Per her handlers she did amazingly well while they (the handlers) enjoyed an abundance of bacon products.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A spectacularly great sunrise ...

Our NADAC sanctioned Winter Classic Dog agility trail had beautiful sunrises and spectacular weather as we played the day away with our dogs.

Thanks to the Judge and everyone that attended.


Monday, January 23, 2012

One Heart, Four Paws

Please join us for One Heart, Four Paws on Sunday, February 12. This fundraiser will celebrate the human-animal bond with Luis Montalvan, the author of the New York Times bestseller, Until Tuesday. Mr. Montalvan, accompanied by his service dog, Tuesday, will speak about his experiences with a service dog and how his life has been enriched. A book signing will follow.

For more information about Mr. Montalvan, you may visit his website.

StoryTime - Family Series event at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moiens

Kids got to pet a Paws & Effect therapy dog while listening to StoryTime with Everybody Wins! Iowa.

How do they touch your life?

Paws & Effect service dogs are featured in an article in the Wellness Branch Newsletter for Camp Dodge.

Click here for the complete story.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Another Amazing Pet Partner Workshop

Paws & Effect taught a Pet Partner workshop at St Luke's in Cedar Rapids this weekend.

We continue to be amazed with the number of individuals who want to volunteer with their pets and the way St. Luke's has fully embraced the positive impact these animals can have on those we visit. Thanks to all that attended the workshop and we look forward to a successful evaluation in a few short weeks.