Wednesday, November 19, 2014

'Age of Empathy' is First 2015 Book Club Selection

The first Paws & Effect Book Club selection for 2015 is "The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society" by animal behaviorist Frans B. M. de Waal.

The discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., Jan. 8, 2105 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa.

The library is located on East 14th Street, between Grandview and Morton Avenues. For directions to campus and maps, click here.

With a doctoral degree in both biology and zoology, de Waal teaches, researches, and writes about primate behavior in the psychology department at Emory University, Atlanta, Ga. He is also the director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, also in Atlanta. According to the center's webpage:
[De Waal's] latest research concerns empathy and cooperation, inequity aversion and social cognition in chimpanzees, bonobos, and other species. He and his students have pioneered studies on how behavior is culturally transmitted in the primates, whether elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, how primates react to unequal reward divisions, how well primates spontaneously cooperate, and whether bonobo orphans are as emotionally affected by their trauma as human orphans.
Writing in plain-spoken prose, peppered with plenty of anecdotes, de Wall's "Age of Empathy" explores the possibility that humans—like other primates—are not inherently selfish, but are instead more than capable of creating an empathic and generous society.

"Having an appreciation for other species and their experiences helps us better understand our own relationships with each other," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "So much research-based information is presented in Age of Empathy, it makes it a worthy read, two- or three-times over."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Writing Contest Seeks Stories, Poetry About Animals

Paws & Effect is in the second month of soliciting stories and art about our relationships with animals!

The nationwide arts and writing contest will be the centerpiece of our annual "One Heart, Four Paws" Valentine's Day celebration of the connections among humans and animals. We're looking for short fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art in youth, military servicemember/veteran, and general public categories. There is a $100 monetary award in each category/subcategory. Deadline is Jan. 5, 2015.

Established in 2006, Paws & Effect is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. We also register therapy animals through Pet Partners, and host dog-agility events.

Editors are seeking previously unpublished flash-fiction, non-fiction, and poetry on the themes illustrating human-animal connections.

Winners selected in each of the following categories:
  • Youth (Ages 6-12)
  • Open—Fiction, Non-fiction, and Poetry
  • Military service member/veteran—Fiction, Non-fiction, and Poetry
Winners in each category/subcategory will receive:
  • Recognition at the Feb. 13, 2015 "One Heart, Four Paws" gala event.
  • A monetary award of $100.
  • Publication of their work(s) in a commemorative broadsheet, chapbook, or other physical object, to be distributed at the event.
All submitted works will also be considered for inclusion in a commemorative anthology, to be published later in 2015.

There is no submission fee for the Youth category. Youth submissions should be made via postal mail, using this downloadable form, or on-line here at All hardcopy entries become the property of Paws & Effect and will not be returned. Send entries to:
"One Heart, Four Paws" Youth Contest
c/o Middle West Press
P.O. Box 31099
Johnston, Iowa 50131-9428
Guidelines for Open and Military/Veteran categories include:
  • Limit one submission in each category per person.
  • Poetry: up to 3 poems (5 pages maximum).
  • All prose (including fiction, non-fiction, essay, and memoir): 750-word limit.
  • Submissions exceeding the limits will be disqualified.
  • Include a biography of 75 words or less with each submission. Past and present members of all branches, services, and nationalities may submit to the Military/Veteran category.
  • Winners and contributors will be notified by Feb. 1, 2015.
  • This project acquires first North American and anthology rights.
  • Judges' decisions are final. Judges also reserve the rights to make additional awards in each category/subcategory, and to decline making awards within one or more categories/subcategories.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Television Spot on Service Dogs, PTSD to Air

Paws & Effect - PSA 6 - "Home" from The Woods on Vimeo

A new Paws & Effect television spot will be aired by KCCI-TV in time for Veterans Day. The 30-second message, titled "Home," demonstrates how a psychiatric service dog helps his military-veteran handler navigate life with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.).

The message opens with footage of Iowa National Guard's 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division citizen-soldiers, returning from Afghanistan in 2011.

As part of the Central Iowa television station's public-service programming, the video clip will air on channels 8.1 and 8.2 starting Sat., Nov. 1. Beginning Nov. 22, the video will also be shown to "Hunger Games: Mockingjay" movie audiences at Century 20 Jordan Creek theater, West Des Moines.

The video can also be viewed on-line via Vimeo at link here, and above in this post.

Established in 2006, the Des Moines, Iowa-based Paws & Effect is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. The organization also trains therapy animals and hosts dog-agility events.

The non-profit has a history of engaging and educating its communities about service animal topics, including an award-winning series of five televised messages in 2011. All of television messages have been written and produced by Todd Cerveris of The Woods production company, New York City.

"This was by far the most challenging public service announcement we've made," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "The first scene was filmed in Johnston, Iowa, at a homecoming ceremony for Iowa National Guard soldiers [...]. That moment, when troops are dismissed to see their family and friends, is incredibly emotional."

"Putting words to the experience of returning from combat, of explaining PTSD, it strained each of us personally and took a toll on our friendships," she says. "There is an honesty and integrity present here that reaches far beyond anything we have done before."