The Importance of Name Selection

What’s in a Name?

A toddler sits observing a pile of sleeping neonate puppies.
Young puppies being keenly observed for name determination.

(Applies to dogs, humans, horses… any species that recognizes that a unique sound refers specifically to them alone).

As you may have noticed, every APAW dog has a very special and unique name that is carefully selected for them; a name that wouldn’t even be _appropriate_ for the vast majority of other dogs in the program, never mind _perfect_ for another.

“… because names can have an effect on self-concept, names can indirectly influence how we act. However, research into the ways names affect people has uncovered a link that shows that our names–or at least other people’s reactions to our names–influence the way we behave even more directly.” ( — H. Edward Deluzain;

‘Names’ vs ‘Words’

This is why nearly every APAW dog receives a ‘word’ name; each name is chosen not only due to it’s special significance for that dog, but also for the instant emotional and intellectual reaction it will trigger in the majority of people who ever hear it… and thus will reflect positively from the person back to the dog, increasing the likelihood of the dog responding in the desired fashion.

Age at Name Assignment

Back when APAW kept for training nearly every puppy we produced, our puppies were each presented with their name before their ears opened around 3 weeks old, to be the first human sound they heard. We now wait to assign names once we’ve determined which pups will remain in our program and which will be placed. Regardless, once assigned their name is used over and over again through-out all of their positive interactions with people, at a much higher frequency than any other word or cue. By the time they are learning to wait or stay (as early as 6-8 weeks old), they are beginning to recognize their name as uniquely theirs, not to be shared with any other being.

Every day that goes by, their experience and understanding of their name gets stronger and stronger, and it becomes their identity.

Changing a Name?

If a dog or person’s name is going to be changed, it is only fair to do so _before_ they come to identify the name as their own.

Silver Poodle's stoic face - the face is shaved pure white hair with black nose and eyes, and the long hair of her topknot and ears is dark gray
“Galaxy” – APAW’s Across The Universe CGC-A CGC-U TKN

We do not permit name changing for trained dogs placed through APAW. Any new owners of puppies sold after 12 weeks of age are strongly encouraged not to change the name, or to choose something which sounds similar.

When APAW accepts a dog over this age into our program, the dog is not automatically given a new name. If they know their name – they respond to it happily and attentively and in a different manner than they respond to other words – then they will keep their name.

Only if it is considered unsuitable – slang, derogatory, poor impression, etc – will it be changed, and if the dog liked their name the new one will sound similar to respect and build upon the dog’s prior good associations.

If the dog has _negative_ associations with their name or no recognition at all, that is when I will choose a new name, so that the dog may start fresh – new sounds, new expectations, new life, new attitude – all geared towards making them the most successful assistance dog they can become.

A Uniquely Perfect Name

Anyone who has worked/trained with an animal extensively will probably recognize that the name of the animal is so uniquely ‘them’ that there never could have been another name – if a different name had been chosen in the beginning, the animal would have grown up to be a different being… genetically the same, but a different personality and therefore a different thought process and different influences for making different decisions.

Toddler and fluffy brown Poodle puppy snuggled on couch
“Locket” – APAW’s Key to the Heart

To quote again H. Edward Deluzain;

“The process that gives names their influence is the so-called self-fulfilling prophecy. Briefly explained, the self-fulfilling prophecy works this way. A man introduces himself to us as Percy. Immediately, our unconscious mind goes to work dredging up all the images and associations we have with that name. Without realizing it, we develop a mental picture–a set of expectations–of what a Percy is like. This mental picture causes changes in our own behavior that are so subtle that we are not aware of them. However, Percy picks up on the messages we are sending by our actions, and he makes unconscious changes in his own way of acting to satisfy what he thinks we expect of him. In other words, we set up a situation which forces Percy to behave the way we think Percys are supposed to behave.”

While I (Jillian) accept name suggestions from everyone with each litter, I do not let others actually match a name to a specific puppy to be kept by APAW (unless I have already approved the name for that pup). Homes who are acquiring a young pup from APAW obviously have full selection of their desired name, with only our light request to give higher preference to a name beginning with the letter the litter has been assigned.

In order for the name to be the most perfect name for that dog as an adult, it needs to be matched to the characteristics that the dog already has, or be chosen to balance negative characteristics in the preferred direction.

This even goes beyond the meaning of a word, right to it’s very sound – words/names/sounds can be soft or sharp, light or heavy, weak or strong, loud or quiet…


**NOTE – this name concept only applies to the call name (not the registered name), as that is the name which the dog is aware of and responds to the reflection of others’ perceptions.

Service Dog activates handicap door
“Eager” – APAW’s Eager To Please, working Service Dog


What names have you given your pets?

Why and how was their name selected, what does it signify, and most importantly – in what ways have they grown into it?



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Fake Service Dogs – Solution (part 2)

Fake Service Dog Teams – The Solution Already Exists (Part 2)

This is part 2, discussing the potential solutions. Read part 1 to learn more about the issues with ‘faking’ a service dog and what it means to be a real service dog, here.

A brown Poodle in a purple vest carries a plastic shopping bag through a parking lot.
Service Dog carrying a shopping bag.

The proposed ‘solutions’ are just new disasters

There have been proposals of stricter laws with fines or other penalties for misrepresenting as an assistance dog team, as well as discussion of training/certifying standards. However, there are major flaws with these proposals – they won’t solve the current problems, they impose hardship on legitimate teams, they infringe on constitutional rights of privacy, they are extremely costly and impractical to implement, they would need to be taught to everyone all over again, and they would need to be enforced.

If we’re going to enforce a law, the current ADA law covers everything we actually need – the person needs to have a disability, the dog needs to be trained to help it, and the dog can’t do anything to disrupt the business/general public and/or cause a safety risk.

Let’s take a closer look at the problems with some of the suggestions.

  • Creating New Laws
    • Education; new laws will require a huge campaign to teach everyone; this will take time and funds, and there will be significant confusion for many years (which can be used as a legal defence for people who appeal a fine). The current laws are known by the majority of people affected by them, so if a campaign is going to be made it may as well be for the current laws to reach the percentage of people who don’t already understand them.
    • Enforcement; the proposed laws will require strong enforcement measures – fines, verification of credentials, etc take considerable more effort for law enforcement to carry out than a business manager simply telling an offending handler that their dog’s behavior doesn’t meet public access standards and therefore they must remove the dog from the premises. 
  • Fines
    • Need to prove there was a legal misrepresentation, fairly easy for someone to fight it in court, and meanwhile ties up extra hours and costs to the government trying to prove their case. Ultimately the hassle and cost outweighs whatever fees may be recouped through fines.
A white and a black Poodle in purple vests hold a down-stay in front of a mirror at a store.
Service Dogs in-training holding a stay, learning to ignore other dogs (real and reflection).
  • National Certification or Registration/ID
    • It is generally unconstitutional to create a mandatory list of citizens who meet a certain description, in this case disabled citizens with a service dog. Regardless of legalities, the concept of collecting a master list of any subset of the population is a terrible idea on so many levels, and would be potentially dangerous for anyone on the list.
      • Some people argue this is “just like getting a handicap placard for one’s car,” but that is completely different. Without a placard, a person with a disability still has the right to park in any spot in the parking lot, just as every other driver. By opting-in to get a placard, the person is granted additional privileges to park in reserved spots that are closer and allow more space for any additional accessibility needs such as ramp and wheelchair access. Requiring a certification or registration in order to go about daily life with a personal, private choice of medical equipment is more like saying a person with a disability is not allowed to park anywhere in the lot unless they have a placard.
    • Who’s in charge? What are the standards, and who is qualified to assess a team’s adherence to them? What if a good team makes a mistake during their test – do they fail and need to retake? Can they retake it instantly or is there a waiting period? What do they do while waiting if they need their service dog in order to perform their job, earn their living, and provide for their family?
    • Does the training need to be done by someone with specific qualifications? The demand/wait for an assistance dog is already so high – how do we justify making it significantly harder to obtain a good dog? How are organizations assessed for the qualifications of their trainers? There are a significant number of organizations currently supplying dogs that don’t (or barely) meet current minimum legal standards – why should they be allowed when excellent owners/trainers who don’t have a specific certification are denied?
    • This is all incredibly impractical…
      • Accessibility; where do these tests take place? A person – disabled, no less – can’t be required to travel somewhere to be assessed for ‘permission’ to live their normal day-to-day life; the thought is ridiculous in itself, but the testing conditions would be incredibly skewed due to how drastically outside their “normal” the conditions are. Even if the trainer travels to the team (at whose expense?), the very nature of being tested can create an abnormal level of anxiety and physical stress that can set a person into a worse-than-usual medical state, potentially requiring medical treatment and/or having lingering effects long after the testing ‘ordeal’ should have ended.
      • Frequency; dogs and humans are dynamic beings, always learning and adapting. Behaviors can easily slide below minimum standards even in a month of poor practice or with a bad experience. Obviously teams wouldn’t be expected to re-certify monthly, but if this test is meant to assure that only teams meeting certain standards are out working, how will it keep on top of this constant behavioral development?
      • Cost; who pays the various costs this would entail? Trainer certification (for how long? And travel, hotel, loss of income?), team training/certification (and travel, hotel, caregiver – plus any care needed back home for children, pets, etc), re-certification (and travel, hotel, caregiver)… What if the whole travel/exam experience results in a medical event, and what if the person needs to be hospitalized so far from home for an extended period? Who pays for all the costs that are incurred?
  • A white Poodle in a purple vest tugs on a rope to hold a door open.
    Service Dog tugs and holds a rope to open a door.

Best actual solutions

Instead of trying to solve the issue by adding more ‘punishments’, here are a few things we can do that will actually make a difference – and they are simple, affordable, don’t add any burden to legitimate assistance dog teams, and can be implemented now (actually, they already are, we just need to broaden the reach).

  • Better education of current laws
    • Authorities, businesses, and the general public can all be reached in a variety of ways… social media works very well though it can be hard to verify credibility, so incorrect information is also spread easily. Local media can air segments to bring clarity (again, they need to check their sources to be sure they give correct information). Assistance dog training programs and others in the industry frequently offer presentations and FAQ sessions to businesses, police departments, schools, places of employment and anywhere else that is interested. These presentations are often provided for free, or are sponsored by donations – there is generally no charge to the group receiving the presentation. Pamphlets and flyers can be distributed, even electronically for each business to print and distribute to their own employees.
  • Better enforcement of current laws
    • All a business owner or police officer needs to do currently is to state to an offending handler “I’m sorry, your dog is not maintaining minimum behavior standards for public access. For the safety and comfort of all of our customers and employees, I need to ask you to remove the dog from the premises.” It’s that simple! If the handler refuses to remove the dog or otherwise causes a scene, it’s no longer a matter of ‘assistance dog’, it shifts to however the store chooses to respond to a customer who is harassing or slandering the business/employees or even other customers.
  • Clear training/handling standards prior to using a vest/public access
    • As a society the US has grown accustomed to very low expectations of dog behavior, and as a result a significant percentage of our population thinks that a dog capable of sitting on cue and not pulling their owner too much is a decently trained dog. Minimum standards for an assistance dog working in public need to be much higher than this, and as a society we need to move towards normalizing good behavior in all dogs (pets included). The peer pressure of society recognizing behavior as acceptable or not will help prevent pet owners from even trying to pass their dog off as an assistance dog. A simple (though still very low) standard could be that prior to any public access every dog must meet the criteria of a basic training and temperament assessment such as the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test, or the UKC’s Socialized Pet Obedience Test.


Four Poodles of various ages and colors, no vests, hold a down-stay in a group in the waiting room at the vet.
Vested or not, service dogs (and in-training) are taught to handle all situations – like this group down-stay while waiting to be seen at the vet clinic.

In conclusion, handlers who ‘fake’ assistance dog status or who bring an under-trained or behaviorally unstable dog in public are a direct threat to the safety and health of the general public and any legitimate assistance dog teams they may encounter. With unverified “ID’s” they create future hardship for real teams who are then expected to produce ID’s or other documentation which the law has never required. The poor impression (and destruction and/or injury) they leave in their wake increases the suspicion and scrutiny towards teams who have always met or exceed all legal expectations. Fake teams are a major problem, but new laws with penalties and required certifications will create more trouble than they solve. The best course of action is to focus on enforcing the current laws, removing improper dogs from public quickly, and normalizing pet training in society so that it becomes laughably obvious to everyone when a team is trying to fake assistance dog status.

Fake teams destroy the trust of businesses and tarnish the reputation of what it means to be an Assistance Dog. 

Remember to check out part 1 of this article, and if you appreciated this content, please share it with your friends! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below, and subscribe to our mailing list if you’d like our future blog posts sent to you.

Fake Service Dogs – Solution (part 1)

Fake Service Dog Teams – The Solution Already Exists (Part 1)

20 years ago it was a rare treat to see an assistance dog out working with their partner. The dog and handler were a clear Team – they communicated quietly, the dog skillfully performed their trained tasks as needed, and the handler was keenly aware of maintaining proper social etiquettes. An assistance team demonstrated the Golden Standard of a well-behaved dog. 

Now it’s a rare trip to a store to *not* encounter a dog in a vest, though it’s often all too clear the dog is not a highly trained working partner… we hear dogs barking from across the store (sometimes aggressively!) and handlers shouting for basic control, we see dogs wandering on a retractable leash sometimes aisles away from their oblivious handler, we see merchandise that has been peed upon… it’s a picture that certainly makes it hard to believe that the dog is actually trained to assist in any way, never mind in a public setting.

Why has this become the norm, and what can be done about it?

Let’s look at what a legitimate assistance dog team is meant to be, and then we’ll address why and how so many people choose to ‘play the system’.

A line of 9 Poodle service dogs in purple vests hold a down-stay in a store during a group training outing
Service dogs training for public access

Defining some terms and laws

‘Assistance dog’ is the umbrella term for a dog trained to help a person with a disability live more independently. There are 3 categories of assistance dogs; 

  1. Guide dogs, which guide handlers with visual disability
  2. Hearing dogs, which provide sound alerting to handlers with hearing disability
  3. Service dogs, which originally were only dogs assisting a handler with mobility disabilities, but now the term applies to essentially all other disabilities, many of which are considered “invisible” because they are not necessarily apparent to others… such as social/developmental disabilities, psychological disabilities, and disabilities requiring medical/allergen alerting

Assistance dog partners, trainers, organizations and advocates fought long and hard for highly-trained and conscientiously handled assistance dogs to have legal access rights. When people abuse this law by parading sub-standard dogs as working partners, it puts the rights of legitimate teams in jeopardy.

A black Poodle wearing a purple vest puts his paws on the wall and pushes the handicap door button with his nose
Service Dog in-training activates handicap door

The Americans with Disabilities Act is the federal law in the US which addresses the right of a disabled person to use a trained dog as a medical device including in many public locations which do not typically allow the presence of dogs. It is the person with a disability who has the right to use their medical equipment in public; the dog itself does not have public access rights.

The ADA specifies that the dog must be individually trained to reliably perform the task/s or work that the person needs due to their disability. There is no limit to the ways in which a dog might assist their partner, but examples include guiding a blind partner around obstacles on the sidewalk, nudging a deaf partner when someone calls out to them, opening a door for a partner in a wheelchair, guiding a panicking partner to a quiet spot, interrupting a partner from a self-harm behavior – and a million other possibilities. Only one task is required by law, but most assistance dogs provide many more – around 20-70 distinctly trained tasks is a range that describes the majority of assistance dog teams.

The ADA goes on to specify that the dog cannot do any number of things which demonstrate a lack of control of the handler or which could pose health or safety risks to other people/property, or even just be disruptive to the nature of the location.

The ADA also specifies that no form of ID or doctor’s verification can be required of a disabled person, nor any specific working gear, organization’s emblem or proof of training for the dog. Medical information is confidential and only under very specific circumstances should it be shared. In fact, if the nature of the disability or the task is better suited to it, an assistance dog can be worked off-lead and/or without any collar, harness, vest, etc. The dog must still meet the minimum behavior standards of the law including remaining directly at their partner’s side except while performing tasks which require the dog to move elsewhere (such as retrieving an item that has rolled out of reach, holding a stay to perform a blocking task at the checkout, leaving their partner to find help, etc).

The ADA allows businesses and authority personnel to ask only 2 questions, if the disability is not obvious;

  • Is this a service [assistance] dog?
    • (Answer; yes or no)
  • What task do they perform?
    • (Answer only needs to be one task and does not need to be demonstrated; ‘retrieves dropped items’, or ‘alerts to medical events’)

ADA 2010 Revised Requirements: Service Animals

Why do people fake having an assistance dog?

As you can see, without any proof of disability or training required, it is quite simple for someone to claim that their pet is a service dog (which as you remember, covers most of the roles for invisible disabilities). Despite the federal law not requiring any identification as a working dog, it is very easy for anyone to go online these days and purchase any sort of vest, backpack or other gear with patches proclaiming or implying status as an assistance dog; it’s also very easy to purchase a doctor’s prescription and an ID card which may appear official but are made with zero substantiation of any claims.

Why do people try to pass their pet off as a service dog? There are a variety of reasons, but the most common ones are:

  • It’s fun to bring their dog places
  • The dog is anxious or destructive if left at home
  • There is no fee for medical equipment, when there may be a pet fee (hotel, airline, train, etc)
  • They think it “doesn’t hurt anyone”
  • “Everyone else does it”
  • They believe they are above the law
A black Poodle in a purple vest has their front feet on the lap of a wheelchair user and is delivering a drink bottle
Service Dog delivering a drink


There are also many well-meaning handlers who think they are following the law and meeting the requirements of an assistance team. Not all health conditions qualify a person for an assistance dog – this is determined not by diagnosis but by debilitation; further, the disabling symptoms need to have a way for a dog to mitigate them… for example, a dog can’t breathe for a person who can’t breathe on their own – but a dog could help carry a small oxygen tank so that the person doesn’t have to use extra energy to carry it themselves. Sometimes the person’s health does qualify them for an assistance dog, but the dog they have either has an inappropriate temperament, isn’t properly trained, or the person doesn’t know how to handle the dog to public access standards.

Sometimes the person is not disabled but the dog has been through some sort of training – perhaps the dog is an assistance dog for another person, or used to be – or maybe it’s a therapy dog or emotional support dog and the partner doesn’t understand that the dog still doesn’t qualify for public access as an assistance dog.

Here’s the big problem

ADA law sets the *minimal* standards of acceptable behavior in public. 

» Every person with a dog who portrays themselves as an assistance dog team is representing all assistance dog teams. 

» Every time a dog misbehaves or a handler either ignores or handles their dog with a lack of empathy and understanding, it undermines the life-changing and highly respected partnership of real working teams.

» Every time a dog is reactive, protective or not directly under it’s handler’s control, there is a safety risk for the general public and for any other dog teams in the vicinity.

» Every time a dog tries to attack or otherwise engage a legitimate assistance dog, the working dog will be at least a bit distracted and might miss part of their job – might stumble into the street with their blind partner, or spill a bag of groceries they had been carrying next to their partner’s wheelchair, or miss the warning scent of an impending seizure… this in turn can create a medical or safety hazard.

» Every time a person flashes an “ID”, it creates future hassles for legitimate assistance dog teams who choose not to carry/show an ID and are then treated as if they are a fake team.


It is also unfair to the pet dog, to put them into the hectic and unpredictable environment of the public. Prospective assistance dog puppies are carefully raised and systematically taught how to handle these stresses, exposed in small increments as the dog builds their socialization and public access skill-set. Even with the right genetic make-up and careful raising there is still no guarantee a dog will mature to be comfortable working in public. To think that a pet dog can just have a vest popped on them and suddenly be fine at Walmart is a terrible mistake, and can create any number of dangerous situations for the stressed dog, members of the public (especially children who may run up and hug the dog unannounced!), the handler (who could be hurt trying to control the dog, or be responsible for injuries to others and damage to property), and other assistance dog teams as mentioned above.

4 Poodles with purple vests sit in a row on the sidewalk while traffic passes
Training for proper manners out in town

Why do fake teams keep getting away with it?

    • It’s easy to get a vest
    • It’s easy to get an ID
    • No proof is needed for online purchases
    • No training credentials are needed for the handler/trainer
    • Businesses/authorities can’t verify disability or training, must assume it’s a legitimate team if the 2 legal questions are answered correctly
    • Businesses don’t know their rights if the dog misbehaves, and are concerned of repercussions


Let’s examine that last point more closely. Businesses don’t know their own rights. Too many businesses don’t realize that ‘legitimate’ or not, a handler can (and should) be required to remove their dog from the premises if there is any lack of control – this includes a dog vocalizing, pulling on the leash, not responding to the handler’s cues, using the bathroom inappropriately, etc. A dog can (and should) be removed for any display of protection/aggression/reactivity, or in any way interfering with members of the public. A dog can (and should) be removed for causing any damage to property not owned or about to be purchased by the handler – knocking items off shelves, peeing on things, etc. 

So many self-righteous handlers have set off hateful campaigns on social media, creating media disasters for businesses of every size, when there were never legal rights to have the dog in the business in the first place. 


A dark Poodle in a purple vest sits and looks at the camera while holding a fast food bag in a restaurant
Service Dog patiently holding a bag of fast food

Now obviously dogs are not robots and even an excellent assistance dog can make minor mistakes every once in a while, but a good handler will quickly get their dog right back under control or will remove the dog from the business before the manager even gets involved. A good handler will be *on the side of the business*, because there is only one law and everyone needs to follow their part.

Also, plenty of managers and lower employees are too quick to judge – often tainted by prior bad experiences – and attempt to remove proper assistance teams who have done no wrong. This is a problem too, generally resolved fairly simply by sharing the law and assuring the business that if the dog demonstrates any uncontrolled nuisance or hazard that of course the handler will be responsible for removing them immediately.

Coming up in Part 2 we’ll discuss the many problems with some of the proposed ‘solutions’, and explain the more appropriate and feasible ways to resolve the issue of people masquerading their pets as service dogs.

~ ~ ~ Click here for Fake Service Dogs – Solution (part 2) ~ ~ ~

If you’ve found this article helpful and interesting, you’ll love the next part! Please share and leave your comments and questions below.

APAW Vision

Why was APAW created?

APAW began in 2007 as a one-person non-profit organization dedicated to training Standard Poodles (as well as occasional Minis/Toys and Poodle mixes of any size) as Service Dogs to aid partners with mobility impairment and Social/Therapy Dogs to visit and work with others through settings such as nursing homes, hospitals and schools. As an ultimate goal, APAW has always intended to branch out to providing Poodles for every type of working role, including Search and Rescue, various types of other scent detection, hunting, and assorted performance sports such as agility, obedience, disc, freestyle, and certain aspects of protection.

APAW founder and trainer Jillian (Gartner) Emerson quickly realized that there was a strong need for a carefully designed purpose-breeding program to focus on breeding dogs with suitable temperament, structure and health characteristics to graduate as working Service and Therapy Dogs. From our inception, APAW has been dedicated to acquiring and strategically breeding purebred Standard Poodles towards the many characteristics needed for these roles. After our initial period of accepting mixes and rescues into our training program and finding none able to meet minimum criteria for graduation, we shifted our focus entirely to purebred Poodles with known backgrounds. APAW separately has also cultivated high-intensity working temperaments suited towards the other roles in which we wish to provide Poodles.


Ups & Downs

APAW’s size has fluctuated over the years, even renting a dedicated facility for a few years and building a volunteer base equaling the work hours of multiple employees, though financially never reached the ability to hire. For a few years founder Jillian was able to receive a meager salary for her round-the-clock care and training of the dogs in addition to all other aspects of running the program, but ultimately needed to return to pure volunteer status.

Current Status

Eventually Jillian got married and APAW moved into a converted garage space at her home. Jillian now is raising her young children and APAW has been down-sized to the base level of maintaining the genetics of the carefully cultivated breeding program, and finishing out the training of Service Dogs for clients who were on the waiting list prior to the program’s redirection.


Welcome to Jillian’s APAW Blog!

A selection of APAW dogs in-training/working, 2012.


Left; Atlas and I after competing in rally and weight-pull.

My daughter reading to  pregnant Dawn.

Welcome to my blog!

Let me introduce myself; my name is Jillian (Gartner) Emerson, and I’m a service dog trainer, Standard Poodle breeder, and homeschooling mom of two young children. I raised my first assistance dog puppy when I was 11 years old, and have been involved in the industry ever since – volunteering, interning, and temporary employment through a large local organization, then moving across the country to pursue formal education in the field, followed by returning home and starting my own program with a focus of filling a huge gap in the industry… that is, the focus of purpose-breeding purebred Poodles for the characteristics required for assistance work, and training/placing many of the Poodles as service dogs for partners with disabilities.

The organization I founded is American Poodles At Work, Inc, also known as APAW. It’s always been a small program, but the size has fluctuated over the years and at it’s largest APAW was renting a 4,000sf facility and had 100+ hours of volunteer assistance per week, in addition to my own volunteer round-the-clock role. APAW has worked towards the requirements set forth by Assistance Dogs International, but has not remained large enough to apply for accreditation. Over the years APAW has graduated over 15 fully-trained service dog teams, and many therapy dog teams, partially-trained young adult dogs who’s owners have completed their personal task training, and many more dogs placed as assistance prospects, emotional support dogs, performance dogs, as well as a few show and breeding dogs.

I’ll be writing articles on many dog-related topics, with particular focus on the assistance dog industry, training (for assistance as well as in general), and running a breeding program with a purpose.

As with nearly everything in life, there are many correct answers and opinions. The information I share is the perspective I have come to develop based on many years of learning from others combined with my own experiences over those years. I do not suggest that my philosophy or methods are the only “good” ones, and I encourage my students and followers to learn from many sources rather than to take any single source as gospel. 

My hope is that these articles are interesting and educational, offering both insight and perspective into topics that are often not discussed beyond those individuals actually participating.

Feel free to request topics that are of interest to you – I guarantee there are other people who would like to hear about it too!

Best, Jillian