There are not many careers that give people a chance to combine their desire to help others with their love of animals, but a PAWS Apprenticeship is one of those rare opportunities. And even more rare are the people who fill each apprenticeship. Each person is intelligent, creative and truly cares about the people whom they are serving. Which is exactly why PAWS developed this apprenticeship program — so we can meet the needs of even more people waiting for a PAWS Dog!
In order to help more clients, we need skilled people who have experience training Service Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Seizure Response Dogs and Service Dogs for Children with Autism. This three-year program allows apprentices to become part of the PAWS Training Team. Under guidance from our PAWS Dog Trainers, apprentices work hands-on to custom-train Assistance Dogs for clients with disabilities.
By the time their apprenticeship is complete, each apprentice trainer will have refined their skills by working with hundreds of dogs. Our apprentices also receive a Journeyperson certificate for Animal Training-Assistance Dogs. In fact, PAWS is the only Assistance Dog organization to offer an apprenticeship program that is standardized through the U.S. Department of Labor! This means that whether our apprentices become trainers at PAWS or go on to another organization, we are placing highly-skilled Assistance Dog Trainers into the field.
For each apprentice, being a part of this program is life changing. PAWS Apprentice Trainer Emily shared, “Finding out that I could help people and be around animals every day is very special for me. I get to hand over this dog — that I am extremely proud of — to this client to whom the dog is going to change their life.”
Our apprentices bring new energy to PAWS that impacts the whole team. Barb, a long-time PAWS Trainer, said this program “adds a new spark [to training]. As each apprentice works through the program, each trainer will get the opportunity to work with them, mentor them and take pride in watching them develop confidence and see them grow as trainers. It is very rewarding to see that process and be involved in it.”
We are proud to be investing in both PAWS and the Assistance Dog industry through our apprentice trainers. Because of your support, we are able to train the future leaders of our industry through the PAWS Apprenticeship Program.