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!

Behind the Scenes: When Dogs Train to Fly

See the recent KCCI-TV report here.

Today's air travelers know to anticipate such stresses as cramped conditions, long lines, and weather delays. That's why service-animal trainers work with airline and airport personnel to ensure that working dogs are prepped and ready for take-off.

As specified by the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (A.C.A.A.) , service animals may accompany their handlers in airports and on flights. As working animals, service dogs are trained to assist individual handlers with specific physical tasks, in order to mitigate physical or mental conditions. Under the access law, handlers are not charged extra for having their service animals travel with them.

Recently, a group of military veterans working with Paws & Effect, a Central Iowa non-profit that trains mobility and other service animals, were featured in a news report on KCCI-TV, Des Moines. In the report, the veterans and their new dogs are shown successfully negotiating an obstacle course of security baggage checks and boarding procedures.

Personnel from the Des Moines International Airport and Frontier Airlines also assisted in the training event.

Just as in other public settings, fellow travelers can help dog-handlers and animals by knowing about access laws, and not distracting handlers and animals while they are working. Dogs are trained to place themselves under seats, in order to keep aisles and exits clear.

Although there is no such thing as a service-animal "license," Paws & Effect also trains handlers to travel with documents regarding the health and safety of their animals. Information on the state of Iowa's "certificate of veterinary inspection," for example, includes identifying information such as microchip number, and vaccination history.