Pawsitivity trainee Xander hanging out before his initial vet exam. He is so brave and curious about everything in the world!
Totally Kids toy store and furniture threw a fundraising event for Pawsitivity! Pawsitivity visited Totally Kids on Saturday, 8/15/15: To prepare, Service-Dog-in-Training Syd got to meet the wonderful staff! We gave a little lecture and Q&A about service dogs and Autism Service Dogs. Syd did great meeting all the staff--and was a stress reliever for them, too! Everyone loved meeting a Service Dog in Training! Gabriel fell in love with Syd, and wants her to come visit his radio show on KBGY 107.5 FM! Free face painting at Totally Kids furniture and toy store! The staff made us feel so welcome! Syd loves meeting kids!
Looking for a great freelance writer or editor in the St Paul, MN area? I personally recommend local writer and editor Ellen Hunter Gans, who just interviewed Pawsitivity for "The Lookout", which is the newsletter for the University Club of St Paul, and she was a wonderful interviewer and very easy to talk to! Ellen runs Word Couture which offers both writing and editing, and for me, I've found that personal connection is everything...being able to talk to someone who is literate, local, friendly, and understanding--that's exactly what one looks for in a writer or editor!
Pawsitivity Service Dogs is featured in the July issue of Saint Paul Magazine! Pawsitivity Service Dogs Is Changing the Lives of Families Affected by Autism Julie and Tom Coleman of Pawsitivity Service Dogs with Sydney, dog in training. PHOTO BY: MARISSA MARTINSON When Tom and Julie Coleman founded Pawsitivity Service Dogs four years ago, it was not just a clever name. They’re on a mission to bring positivity into the lives of families who are challenged with a connection to severe autism and other disabilities associated with the autism spectrum. “We are changing lives one dog at a time,” says Tom Coleman, who with his wife Julie trains autism service and therapy dogs for children. Tom and Julie’s journey began after meeting a friend with an autistic son and seeing how much a dog was helping the boy. “He wasn’t even a trained dog,” says Tom, who upon further research found that at the time, nobody in Minnesota was training autism service dogs. “We don’t have our own kids, so we thought, ‘How can we help these children?’ We founded this charity, and the idea is that things can be positive and things can get better.” Service dogs can help children with autism in many ways. “If a child becomes severely agitated, the dog will sit on the lap of the child, and the weight and pressure of the dog can assist them with calming,” says Tom, who also explains how service dogs can help autistic children who have issues with wandering or running off. He calls service dogs a “kid magnet” and says that the dogs are often a social bridge, helping with the isolation and loneliness having autism often brings. “If you’ve met one person with autism, then you’ve met one person with autism. They’re all so different,” says Tom, who says this is the reason why Pawsitivity selects and trains each dog on an individual basis. Autism can be associated with other disabilities, known as comorbidity, which can include psychiatric disabilities such as major depression, severe anxiety, and panic attacks and also seizures, and the dogs are trained to meet those specific needs. “We just train two or three dogs a year. It’s very intense, very focused. We go to the doctors’ appointments with the child if necessary. We have the dogs 24-7, and they are constantly getting training,” says Tom, who adds that each dog undergoes 900 hours of training typically over a 12-month period. Currently Pawsitivity has a wait list, which is closed. The Colemans primarily rescue golden retrievers and Labrador breeds for training, and adult dogs are chosen over puppies so that their temperament is known. “From start to finish, we control the whole process. They’re all ‘second chance’ dogs,” Tom says. “We go through this checklist of what dog would be appropriate, and about one out of 1,000 dogs is. Smart dogs tend to be high energy, and low-energy dogs tend to be not very trainable. It’s hard to find one that is low energy and smart enough.” Tom explains that the dogs cannot be afraid of anything or be aggressive in any way, such as barking at cats. They also need to be healthy and the right age. The dogs are trained only with positive reinforcement techniques. Training exercises include “proofing a dog’s commands, such as performing a strict heel through the distractions of the barking, sniffing or lunging of other dogs in a dog park,” Julie says. Pawsitivity Service Dogs is a partner member of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, and each dog is individually trained for the handler's disability, circumstances, and needs. Christy and Joe Wills’ son Henry is 9 years old. The Wills family received their service dog, Bailey, two years ago to assist with Henry’s conditions: autism, ocular albinism, global developmental delays, epilepsy, hypotonic muscles and chronic sleep dis-regulation. Continue reading
Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers! It really takes a village to train and prepare Pawsitivity dogs for the important work they will do. We are very grateful for everyone who has volunteered, donated, or helped us in any way. In this newsletter, we're giving a special shout-out to the volunteers who have worked with Pawsitivity this year (so far!). If you're interested in helping, too, please let us know! Say Congrats to Our Top 2015 Volunteers!Brenda Knapp-Polzin donates monthly through her work, and here she is meeting Syd, one of the dogs assisted by her donations. Candy and Steve Aliano gave Pawsitivity a very special gift this spring, donating all the way from New Port Richey in Florida! Cheers to Pawsitivity's New Board of Directors!Dave Mackmiller (Treasurer), Tom Coleman (pictured, but not on the board), Julie Coleman (Training Director and board member), Dr. Michelle Parkinson (Vice President), Dr. Todd Savage (Secretary), and Dr. Kris Butler (Chair)!. We are very grateful for this amazing team! Top Fundraisers!Thank you to Clarice Chikazawa and Frank Tschudyida for throwing a Pawsitivity fundraising party! They've also introduced us to the wonderful teams at Herzing University in Minneapolis, MN, who are studying to change lives through health care! Dr. Kim Halvorson of Metro State University donates her time and experience by proofreading all the medical information on Pawsitivity's website! Dr. Jen Seidl and Grand Avenue Veterinary Center cheerfully donate all spaying, neutering, and checkups for Pawsitivity Dogs! We're so thankful for all the assistance and great care they provide. Herzing University in Minneapolis, MN invited Pawsitivity to visit a class of Occupational Therapy Assistant students. Here they are pictured with service-dog-in-training, Lena. The Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene departments at Herzing will be throwing a fundraising party for Pawsitivity later this year! The Susan Janda and David Milne family threw a fundraiser for Pawsitivity last year, and they are helping to socialize the current dogs in training! Annie and Sarah Westawker have been helping with Pawsitivity dogs from the beginning. They socialize and walk the service-dogs-in-training, which is especially helpful because they're the same age as many recipients. The Woodbury Junior Girl Scouts threw a fundraiser for Pawsitivity in May! Syd was a special guest at the party and she had a wonderful time. Thank you to all the Junior Girl Scouts and your families for all your time, effort, and wonderful generosity!Thank you again to everyone who volunteers, donates, spreads the word about Pawsitivity, or helps us in any way. We really appreciate it!Warmly,Tom & Julie Coleman Tom Coleman, Executive Director Pawsitivity Service Dogs http://www.pawsitivityservicedogs.com Facebook Instagram Twitter 197 Griggs St. N., St Paul, MN, 55104 651-321-DOGS EIN 47-1446634 Rated "Gold" Charity by Guidestar Exchange Awarded "Top-Rated Nonprofit" Seal by GreatNonprofits Winner, Humane Charity Seal of Approval
Wow, Rover.com just wrote a really great article about the work of Autism Service Dogs!
The amazing John D. Docken, Vice President and Corporate Counsel, in Fargo, ND, did a fantastic job looking over some of our paperwork. Thank you!!!!!