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PAWS Dog 2.0

Deciding when to apply for a Successor Assistance Dog can be difficult.

The decision to apply for a Successor Assistance Dog can be an emotional one. Each PAWS client has to choose the timing that is best for them.


No one likes to think about their dog passing away, but for a person with a disability who relies on an Assistance Dog for their independence, the inevitable loss can be even more devastating.

Though we wish they'd live forever, on average we expect 10 years of service from each PAWS Dog we place. Some, due to unexpected illness, for example, unfortunately may not be able to work that long. Others, gratefully, are able to work even longer.

Have you ever wondered what happens next after a PAWS Dog passes away?

The answers are as varied as the clients we serve, actually. Some -- understanding the wait for a PAWS Dog can be a long one -- apply for a Successor Assistance Dog once their current partner reaches a certain age or starts slowing down. Some wait to apply for another dog until after they've had a chance to process and mourn the loss of their FURever friend. Some decide not to reapply at all -- perhaps their disability has progressed to the point where they don't feel able to handle a new dog.

At PAWS, we respect our clients' decisions and timing. When they're ready, we have a dedicated process that guides Successor Dog applications and placements. We take the time to reassess a client's needs to be sure we can expect to find an appropriate PAWS Dog to match with them. Knowing how quickly independence can be lost -- and how important it is for someone who is accustomed to living with an Assistance Dog to have that help -- we do give priority to pairing approved successor clients with available PAWS Dogs-in-training. As with first-time clients, we do not ask or expect a person to pay toward the cost of raising or training their PAWS Dog.

We do encourage PAWS clients who are considering a Successor Dog to be proactive in applying for one. Our Client Services team is always ready to help whenever you're ready.

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