Every Hand in Paw volunteer has their “why” – the reason they ultimately chose to become a Therapy Team with their pet. For some, a volunteer opportunity where you can make a difference alongside your dog is reason enough. Others have experienced or witnessed a Hand in Paw visit first-hand that inspired their Therapy Team journey. Whatever the reason, we are so thankful that there are people in our community who dedicate their free time to volunteering with Hand in Paw! Volunteers are the backbone of our organization and make it possible to achieve our mission of improving human health and well-being through Animal-Assisted Therapy.
Please enjoy hearing from 3 Therapy Teams on why they volunteer with Hand in Paw! We hope their stories inspire you to volunteer for an organization you are passionate about (and hey, if that organization is Hand in Paw, that’s just a plus!).
"Many years ago, I accompanied my neighbor to UAB for her radiation treatments and while in the waiting room a little dog walks in and starts greeting everyone! He was so cute, and I enjoyed seeing everyone smiling as they encountered him. I’d heard of therapy dogs but never encountered one before. Time passed and friends of ours trained their dogs to be HIP dogs and the wheels started turning. My female Corgi went through 4 rounds of obedience training, and I still struggled every day to be Alpha!! Then we got Chester…..and from the first encounter I knew he could do it! So, we trained and tested and passed! Because of Chester’s short Corgi legs and fairly heavy body, I knew we needed to keep close to the floor and I heard about Sit, Stay, Read and knew it was for us! To say it was a perfect fit is an understatement! He loves walking the halls to the classroom and receiving all that love! He loves his classroom mat and the children who sit on it with him. He loves closing his eyes as they read and stroke his head or body or foot. And me? I love sharing my animal who can make a difference by his very presence. Why do I volunteer with HIP? To watch the dog I love boost children’s confidence and help develop and perfect a skill so necessary in life…reading. "
"Retirement within sight, I was told “Have a plan”. Not wanting to fail retirement, a good friend named Carol Develice talked to me about volunteering with Hand in Paw. I knew that my yellow lab, Sally, was great with people because I would take her to work with me during my years as an Athletic Trainer and she would visit the athletes missing family pets at home. I thought this would be a great outing for us, as a team, to service the community. Sally has served for three years and it’s been the happiest of times. "
"Several years ago, one of my friends and her dog Molly became a Hand in Paw team and regularly volunteered at Children’s of Alabama. I previously volunteered at Children’s with the Junior League of Birmingham at the Sunshine School Program and saw the difference volunteer visits could have on children. My friend talked about how Molly’s visits seemed to comfort the kids and brighten their day. My sweet, high-energy dog, Hank, was not a candidate for Hand in Paw at that time. When we got our dog Roux several years ago, it was clear from day one that she loved people, and people loved her. Her presence seemed to comfort all those around her. After a training course, I started the process of applying to be a team at HIP. We passed the evaluation last Fall. We have loved every second of reading with the kids at Avondale Elementary for Sit, Stay, Read and visiting McLeod Software for Wags at Work. We look forward to many more visits to these places and other organizations in Birmingham."