Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Classic NADAC Agility Trials are Jan. 17-18!

Entries are now open for the Paws & Effect Winter Classic NADAC Agility Trials, scheduled Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 17-18, 2015 at the Jester Park Equestrian Center, 11171 N.W. 103rd Court, Granger, Iowa north of Des Moines. The judge will be Matt McCarter of Overland Park, Kansas.

The premium describing the event's rules and other details is downloadable as a PDF here. Entries are open from Dec. 8, 2014 to both days of the event.

The purpose of events sanctioned by the North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC) is "to demonstrate the ability of a dog and its handler to work as a smoothly functioning team." They are also great opportunities to meet up with other dogs and their enthusiasts. For general rules and information on NADAC events, click here.

Established in 2006, Paws & Effect is a Des Moines, Iowa-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. The group also registers therapy animals through Pet Partners, and regularly hosts NADAC-sanctioned dog-agility events for fun and fund raising.

Paws & Effect is also widely known for its dog-agility programs, through which children participate in physical, occupational, and speech therapy while taking a therapy dog through an agility course.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Iowa Realtor Foundation Contributes to Paws & Effect


Each year, the Iowa Realtor Foundation contributes thousands of dollars to community programs and projects with the objective of "keeping Iowa an attractive place to live."

Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate announced the receipt of a $7,500 donation from the foundation this week. The money donated to Paws & Effect will be used toward the training and placement of service and therapy animals serving Iowans.

"Paws & Effect is privileged to have received funds from the Iowa Association of Realtors, which has supported many community non-profits, including Children & Families of Iowa and the Ashley Okland Star Playground. We're able to continue our efforts both as a therapy and service dog organization, because we are embraced by the community."

Service-dog-in-training Star was on hand to help 
receive the Iowa Realtor Foundation's recent gift.
Established in 2006, Paws & Effect is a Des Moines, Iowa-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. The group also registers therapy animals through Pet Partners, and hosts dog-agility events.

The Iowa Realtor Foundation is the good-works arm of the Iowa Association of Realtors, which is a leading advocate for more than 6,500 real estate professionals who live and work in the state of Iowa. Past donations have been directed toward efforts including housing and parks programs, and academic scholarships.

The organization's members are each pledged to adhere to a strict code of professional ethics, and are the only real estate professionals authorized to use the trademarked descriptor "realtor."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Paws & Effect Named 'Pet Partners Community Partner'

Central Iowa-based Paws & Effect has recently been named a Pet Partner Community Partner by Pet Partners, the "largest and most prestigious non-profit registering handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams providing animal-assisted interactions." The Bellevue, Wash.-based organization was formerly known as the Delta Society.

"Being a Community Partner recognizes the efforts that our volunteers have made over the past eight years. Becoming a Community Partner is an incredible achievement, one in which I am certain our volunteers take great pride," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "Having been a Pet Partners volunteer for more than 10 years, I have witnessed the power of the human-animal bond time and again. It is wonderful to know that Paws & Effect and the Pet Partners program will contribute to Iowa for years to come."

Shumate's own experience as a Delta Society volunteer began in 2003, when she and her husband Eric—along with dogs Coffee Bean and Roggen—began conducting hospital visits in their previous state of residence. 

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


Paws & Effect coordinates the efforts of more than 75 Pet Partners teams in Iowa, and maintains multiple evaluators and instructors. The Community Partners program requires Paws & Effect to maintain multiple evaluators and instructors. This infrastructure ensures sustainability, providing routine opportunity for current Pet Partners to reevaluate and for new volunteers to attend a training course.  

Additionally, the Community Partners program encourages organizations to host events that promote the human-animal bond. Paws & Effect hosts a bi-monthly book club and is currently seeking submissions for its first-ever writing competition about the human-animal bond. Paws & Effect has scheduled additional trainings for their Pet Partners in 2015, which will include a Reading Education Assistance Dog (R.E.A.D) seminar next October.

In addition to offering continual training and evaluation opportunities for handlers and their dogs, Pet Partners' Community Partners maintain rosters of 20 or more registered dog-and-handler teams. These volunteers provide therapy animal services to hospitals, healthcare facilities, schools, and other environments in a given geographic region.

Central Iowans interested in becoming a Pet Partner are invited to attend the next training course from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sat., Jan. 31, 2015 at Avondale Veterinary Healthcare Complex, 4318 E. Army Post Rd., Des Moines, Iowa. Cost is $75, which includes the Pet Partner manual. For more information, visit the national Pet Partners website here. To register, e-mail: nicoleshumate@paws-effect.org.

Re-evaluations for existing Pet Partners is available Jan. 10-11 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Pet Partners with registrations expiring between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2015 are encouraged to participate. Contact Nicole Shumate via e-mail to schedule a time: nicoleshumate@paws-effect.org.

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 Submittable.com. 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."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Contest Seeks Art, Writing about Human-Animal Bonds

As part of its annual "One Heart, Four Paws" Valentine's Day celebration of the connections among humans and animals, Central Iowa non-profit Paws & Effect is conducting its first-ever writing contest for youth, adult, and military writers. Deadline is Jan. 5, 2015.

Established in 2006, the Des Moines, Iowa-based non-profit 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.

Editors are seeking previously unpublished flash-fiction, non-fiction, and poetry on the theme of 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 Submittable.com. 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.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Top 2014 'Hero Dog' Susie Wins $5K for Paws & Effect

PHOTO: American Human Association
A pit-bull mix named Susie won the top "Hero Dog" award at this year's American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. As Suzie's designated charity partner, Paws & Effect will receive a $5,000 award based on her win and participation.

Established in 2006, the Des Moines, Iowa-based organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that raises, trains, and places service dogs with military veterans and children diagnosed with medical needs. Paws & Effect also hosts Pet Partner training courses and evaluations, supporting therapy teams throughout the state of Iowa. Paws & Effect is widely known for its dog agility programs, where children may complete their physical, occupational, and speech therapy while taking a therapy dog through an agility course.

Susie, who lives in High Point, N.C. was the finalist in the Therapy Dog category. The ceremony will be broadcast nationally on the Hallmark Channel, Oct. 30, 7 p.m. Central Time. More than 130 dogs were nominated in this year's contest, and 1.5 million on-line votes were cast by the public. Suzie was selected from a pool of eight finalists. Other categories include arson, law enforcement, and guide and hearing dogs.

Susie's life story is a dramatic one, involving animal abuse, rescue, adoption, healing, and more. A short summary on the American Humane Association website reads:
Susie was only a puppy when her owner beat her savagely and set her on fire, leaving her for dead in a local park in Greensboro, North Carolina. After being rescued by a local animal shelter and nursed back to health, she was adopted by Donna Lawrence, who had been the victim of a terrible dog attack that nearly killed her and left her without the ability to have children. 
Together, they helped each other heal from their physical and emotional wounds, triumphing over pain and fear to become voices for abused animals and helping pass "Susie’s Law" in North Carolina, which calls for harsher penalties for convicted animal abusers. Susie became the subject of the movie, "Susie’s Hope," and working side by side, Donna and Susie continue to make the world a better place for others by visiting hospitals, schools, and nursing homes to inspire people never to give up.
In another Iowa connection, Chaney, an 8-year-old Labrador and retired Military Working Dog now living in Waverly, Iowa, was the finalist in the Military Dog category. Along with his handler, Chaney often volunteers with Retrieving Freedom, Inc. By participating in the Hero Dogs program and becoming a finalist, Chaney won $1,500 for the America's VetDogs of Smithtown, N.Y.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pet-friendly 'El Dia de Los Muertos' 1 p.m. Sat., Oct. 18

A pet-friendly celebration of El Dia de Los Muertos ("The Day of the Dead") will be hosted by Central Iowa non-profit Paws & Effect at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale, Iowa, starting at 1 p.m. Sat., Oct. 18. Costumes are encouraged!

El Dia de Las Meurtos is a traditional holiday that originates in Mexico and other Latino countries, during which family and friends gather to remember and celebrate their ancestors and other loved ones. It is usually observed close to Halloween.

"We share our lives with pets and people," says Nicole Shumate, executive director of Paws & Effect.  "Paws & Effect wants to create an opportunity to join together as a community, remembering and cherishing all those whose lives have touched ours."

Since 2006, the non-profit has trained and placed service animals with military veterans, children with autism, and others diagnosed with medical needs. The organization also trains therapy animals and Pet Partners.

A New Orleans-style memorial ceremony and jubilee procession will begin 1 p.m. at the Living History Farms' Church of the Land. Music will be provided by the Drake University Jazz Band.

The upbeat procession will culminate at the Living History Farms softball fields, where music will be provided by El Dorados. Participants can purchase food from Magnolia Kitchen and Grocery, and sample beer from Peace Tree Brewing.

Cost for the event is $25. Register on-line here.

In addition to Living History Farms and Paws & Effect, the event is co-sponsored by The Daniel Sesker Memorial Fund and Iowa Chapter of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Iowa (EANGI).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Club Event Rescheduled for Oct. 2

The fourth Paws & Effect Book Club selection for 2014 is "Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace" by animal behaviorist Kathy Sdao.

The discussion will take place 6:30 to 8 p.m., Thurs., Oct. 2 at the Grand View University main campus library, Des Moines, Iowa. The event was originally scheduled for Sept. 4.

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

The book relates how Sdao has developed a philosophy that emphasizes mutual reinforcement among trainers and their animals, rather than establishing rules that hinder the human's abilities to share affection and attention with animals they're training.

According to press materials:
[R]enowned dog trainer Kathy Sdao reveals how her journey through life and her decades of experience training marine mammals and dogs led her to reject a number of sacred cows including the leadership model of dog training. She describes in narrative fashion how she has come to focus her own training philosophy which emphasizes developing partnerships in which humans and dogs exchange reinforcements and continually cede the upper hand to one another.