Client Donation

Clients are given the option to fundraise to cover their tuition fee for team training (the 2.5 week class they take to learn how to work with their assistance dog before taking the dog home). The cost is $5,000, which is only a small part of the nearly $40,000 that it takes to raise, train and place each assistance dog. You can help by donating all or a portion of the tuition by choosing your client's name on the donation form.

Mobility Dog

What can you do in five minutes? Get a cup of coffee, make a sandwich, send an e-mail, or even kiss your loved ones, goodnight. Five minutes may seem a short span of time, but for some people like me five minutes can feel like an eternity. Imagine struggling to get your clothes on and off to get ready for work, or to meet friends and not be able to retrieve your phone. The challenge of dropping your keys and not being able to reach them in the pouring rain, being stuck on the toilet, a chair, or even in your own bed and not being able to get up, or arriving to work an hour early just to take your coat off? Each of these tasks took me over an hour prior to having my PAALS service dogs!

I have been so incredibly fortunate to have had two PAALS service dogs previously, my “Gentle Giant,” Casper, a loyal, devoted yellow Labrador Retriever, and my “Ball of Sunshine,” Shack, a Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever mix who has a zest for life like no other human or canine. My service dogs have changed my life in so many ways; they have been my stylists, my hands, my agents of change in the community; they have changed perceptions and the view of people with disabilities to one of individuals being capable, and able to accomplish anything we set our minds to doing. They Made a Difference! Casper, Shack, and PAALS are the reason I wanted another PAALS service dog!

When I made the difficult decision to retire my last PAALS service dog, Shack, I pondered long and hard, “Am I ready to do this again?” Having a service dog empowers me to continue living a quality life; working, volunteering, educating the community and state, and emboldening others to achieve their goals of independent living. I don’t have to rely on another human being to live my life, I can choose to do it on my own terms, with a wonderful canine partner, in my own way, per the love and support of many, rather than being dependent on traditional strategies.

As an energetic fifty-two-year-old woman, I never cease wanting to be a productive member of the Columbia, SC community, and society by giving back in numerous ways. I hold down a full-time job as the Director of Community Outreach and Consumer Rights for a non-profit, 501 c3, disability-led organization, Able South Carolina. I work to educate, advocate, and equip people with disabilities and the community to create access, equity, and inclusion. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “You get out of life exactly what you put into it.” With this idea in mind, having a service dog allows me the freedom to navigate the community independently using public transportation, complete tasks ranging from helping me transfer out of my wheelchair, retrieving my cell phone, handing my wallet to a cashier, opening and closing doors for me, helping me in training and providing resources to the community, and pressing the crosswalk, elevator or automatic entrance doors for me in public buildings.

By supporting my Team Training fund, you are helping me to give back to an organization I LOVE and pay it forward to another perspective PAALS Service Dog team. The money I raise will help PAALS train more dogs and humans to work together to achieve independence! Service dogs showcase a disabled person’s talents and abilities and allow the community to see what is achievable; anything you set your mind to accomplishing! Service dogs demonstrate that not everyone does a task the traditional way, but rather in their own way! What always surprises me, is the lives service dog’s touch. Whether it is a legislator, an individual with a disability, school children, or law enforcement, service dogs pave the way for change! As one man with a disability recently told me, “Shack showed me and the world any dream is possible!” Service dogs have always been the great equalizer, and PAALS is an excellent example of an organization of dedicated staff, volunteers, and champions making that happen!

Dori

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FACILITY DOG

My name is James L. Smyrl, Ph.D., and I serve as a Clinical Chaplain for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (SCDJJ). As a Clinical Chaplain, I provide spiritual care, counsel, advice, and interact daily with at-risk youth in our facilities. Clinical Chaplains are the boots on the ground for the spiritual, emotional, and mental wellbeing of agency youth. I believe the opportunity to interact with a PAALS facility dog will offer a key catalyst for our youth’s success.

In researching facility and therapy dog successes in juvenile correctional institutions throughout the country, I’ve learned of the overwhelmingly positive results. Recidivism rates drop. Youth are far more likely to receive counseling and join group therapeutic sessions if a dog is present. Employees who are regularly exposed to a facility dog experience a reduction in stress and increase in job satisfaction. I want to partner with a PAALS facility dog because an immeasurable number of of SCDJJ youth and employees will be positively impacted throughout the facility dog’s career.

Our mission at SCDJJ is to rehabilitate youth so that they have a bright future. The skillset of a facility dog trained by PAALS to calm and create a desire of dialogue in teenagers will result in them being more willing to share their struggles and absorb all that I seek to invest in them daily. My effectiveness as a teacher, counselor, group therapy facilitator, mentor/advisor, and pastor will vastly improve with a facility dog by my side.

JAMES

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FACILITY DOG

My name is Damon Woodley, and I am a physical therapist. I am also the Director of Rehabilitation at NHC-Parklane in Columbia, which is a skilled nursing facility that serves 170-plus patients and residents. Some people come to our facility for a short period of time for rehabilitation as patients, and some people live here as residents.

Our facility tries to create a pleasant, home-like atmosphere for our patients and residents, and I feel a PAALS facility dog will enhance their experience. Through the facility dog’s unique training, the dog can participate in patient treatments to engage our patients differently and provide new and varied treatments to improve their rehabilitative process. The dog will help improve patient morale and encourage patient participation. Furthermore, the dog can help engage our facility’s residents in activities or just visit them in their rooms to lift their spirits.

With the help of a PAALS facility dog, I hope to improve the quality of life for all our patients and residents.

DAMON W.

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