Paws and Effect

Dog Scouts Troop No. 232 Hits the Trail for Badges

PHOTO: Paws & Effect

Members of various Paws & Effect programs recently established Dog Scouts Troop No. 232. The troop is an affiliate of Dog Scouts of America, a non-profit that started in 1989. Through a certification and specialty "merit badge" program incorporating more than 80 awards, the organization promotes safe, fun, and ethical activities for dogs and their handlers. There are more than 38 posts nationwide, in more than 22 states.

Merit badges categories include those in scouting, community service, agility, trail work, and other activities.

Dog Scouts and their handlers must be capable of acting as good citizens, including sit, down, stay, come, heel and leave it. Handlers must successfully pass a 33-question written examination. The written test covers topics such as: reward-based training, learning theory, and the mission of Dog Scouts of America.

As of June 10, a pawful of Troop 232 dogs have already achieved the Dog Scout certification and title. Prior to certification, dogs are optionally called "Cadet Scouts."

"Sponsoring Dog Scout activities are a great way to regularly gather people and dogs together, especially those who may live too far away for weekly classes," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "Service dog recipients and Pet Partners will now have options that are more accommodating to their circumstances. Plus, what military veteran doesn't immediately want their dog to 'tab-out,' with plenty of qualification badges?"

At a weekend troop meeting conducted at Brown's Woods in West Des Moines, Iowa, participants worked toward their Hiking badges. The next weekend-long troop meeting will be Sept. 25-27, 2015. Training and preparation will take place on Friday and Saturday, with evaluations on Sunday.

Paws & Effect plans to conduct smaller, 2-hour badge workshops once or twice a month. All dogs are welcome at all meetings, whether they have earned their Dog Scout badge or not. The first workshop will be Fri., June 19 at 7 p.m. Participants will work toward their Manners badges.

A Facebook page for the Dog Scouts organization is here.

We Celebrate 9 Years by Opening Our New Storefront!

Simultaneously celebrating its ninth year of training service, therapy, and other animals, Paws & Effect has officially opened the doors of its new storefront facility in the Beaverdale neighborhood of Des Moines, Iowa!

The address of our 1,500-square-foot space is 2629 Beaver Ave.—just a few doors down from landmark independent bookseller, Beaverdale Books!

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.

"As we gallop toward our 10th anniversary next year, establishing our own training and meet-up space was the next natural milestone for our organization," says Nicole Shumate, executive director for Paws & Effect. "We're building and sustaining our communities—puppy-raisers, dog trainers, Pet Partners, Dog Scouts, military veterans, allies and others—people and animals working together, for our mutual good."

The new space features an office, training space, a community blackboard wall, and a reading room and lending library for both pets and handlers! Training class schedules and other events are now available! Sign up here!

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).

Hero Dog Awards: Vote for Cadence Before June 6!

Since 2012, the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards program has recognized the animals that help humans in ways ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary. One of this year's 24 semi-finalists is Cadence, a 9-year-old black and white Catahoula whose charity partner is Paws & Effect, Des Moines, Iowa.

Cadence is nominated in the Therapy dog category of the Hero Dog Awards contest. Other categories are:

  • Arson dogs
  • Guide and hearing dogs
  • Law-enforcement dogs
  • Military dogs 
  • Search and rescue dogs
  • Service dogs

Cadence began her mission as a therapy dog through the Delta Society's Pet Partners program in 2006. With love, patience, and strength, she has helped kids overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Friends describe Cadence as even-tempered, but exuberant.

"She's attracted to children and activity," says handler Nicole Shumate, who is also executive director of Paws & Effect. "She occasionally screams around the agility course—she has a career tally of exactly zero points in agility competitions—but absolutely loves being with kids."

In 2007, Cadence helped to start the Abilities Through Agility program at ChildServe, a non-profit provider of specialized health care to Central Iowa children. There, she helps special needs children reach their rehabilitation and developmental goals through agility activities. Since then, the program has expanded to a number of therapy dogs who touch the hearts of ChildServe children on a weekly basis. Cadence has also broken barriers in the court system, recently helping a special little girl though an extremely difficult trial.

The girl was housed at Youth Emergency Services & Shelter ("YESS"), and was a witness for the prosecution in an emotional case. Cadence helped the victim through the intense, agonizing court processes. Cadence—sensing the girl's vulnerability and unimaginable pain—dutifully curled near her feet each and every day, despite the stress and long hours. The assistant county attorney said, "I requested assistance from Cadence in facilitating communications with a child victim that was having a hard time ... Cadence provided companionship and distraction for the child, allowing the child to move past her negative feelings and work with me to proceed with the case."

Vote for Cadence at this page. Each day until the June 6, 2014 deadline, voters may vote for one dog in each category. Those receiving the most votes will advance to finalist.

According to the Hero Dog Awards website, "every finalist will be presented with a Hero Dog award for their feats of loyalty, bravery, and love, and win $1,500 for a selected charity partner. In addition, one finalist will walk away with top honors as the winning American Hero Dog for 2014, securing an additional $5,000 for their charity partner."