Donating and spending time volunteering always feels so good and when there are puppies involved, it really can’t get much better. A lucky few of us at CleverMade were given the opportunity to support a local San Diego non-profit, Paws for Purple Hearts. It all started when their advancement associate, Caitlin, emailed us to ask if we would donate a few Collapsible Totes to help them with a project they’re doing for puppy parent volunteers. Of course, we said a resounding “Yes!” and Caitlin went on to explain what exactly they were doing. She let us know that all of their pups in training go to “puppy parents’” homes on the weekends so they can get a feel for what life is going to be like when training is over and they’re placed with a Veteran. The totes are going to be used to hold all sorts of goodies that the puppies will need during their weekend stays: water bowl, treats, toys, tooth brush, etc.
So, here’s how our day went… We arrived at the San Diego location where Caitlin met us and gave a tour of the facility. There we met the instructors, Selah (senior instructor) and Kaitlyn (program instructor) who introduced us to the pups. The puppies have a fun outdoor space to run around in as well as simulation spaces where they get to practice the tasks they’re being trained to complete. When we got there, the lucky dogs had just gotten back from a beach trip and were in need of a good scrub in the tub. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work! We traded off filling their treats—Kong toys stuffed with peanut butter, chicken, cheerios, and kibble, yum!—and bathing them. Once they were all clean, we got to learn about what goes into the training process.
A star student, Drew the golden retriever, arrived and showed us the amazing things he had been working on during his training over the last two and a half years. Selah used simple sounding commands to let Drew know what task to complete and to our amazement, he did all of the following:
It was truly amazing to watch all this young dog knew how to do. In just a few short months, Drew will be ready to graduate and will be placed with a compatible Veteran.
The amazing folks who run the San Diego location (yes, those three gals do it all) take such pride in what they do and the knowledge that their hours and hours of work improve other people's lives is what keeps them going. Caitlin told me that the most important thing for people to know is that their dogs have a vast impact over people's lives from the moment their training begins.
“Throughout their training, PPH dogs will interact with active duty service members for social therapy, will be cared for by generous Veteran volunteers and their families, and provide educational opportunities for our community members. Veterans even take part in training these dogs for fellow Veterans through our unique Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy program. Just one service dog will impact dozens of lives during and beyond their time with PPH.”
"Paws for Purple Hearts is funded by generous donors and grantmakers who believe in our mission. This program would not be possible without the support of these donors, like CleverMade, who share our appreciation for the military community! Whether you provide an in-kind donation or monetary contribution, you are helping make a difference in the lives of America's Warriors."
Paws for Purple Hearts Mission:
Paws for Purple Hearts improves the lives of America’s Warriors facing mobility challenges and trauma-related conditions such as PTSD and TBI by providing the highest-quality assistance dogs and canine-assisted therapeutic programs; and by building public awareness about the important role dogs play in helping Warriors along the road to recovery.
We were so humbled by our experience volunteering just for those few hours and we are so thankful to the ladies at Paws for Purple Hearts for allowing us into their home and teaching us about this incredible organization. We hope to be back soon whether we’re giving baths or seeing the dogs’ progress!