Did you know that being a “puppy petter” is a real thing? Well, it is!
I’ve had quite the experience in puppy petting in my life. Let me count… Amor, Rosie, Muffy, Maggie, Oreo, Ewelina, Natalia… Oh wait… the last two are my kids… However, all of my pups came with other (dirtier) responsibilities. The puppy petting I’m talking about today is different. Plus it serves an amazing purpose.
Paws for Purple Hearts, Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy
I recently connected with a non-profit organization which trains and provides service dogs for veterans.
Let’s travel in time to 2006. In that year Bergin University Of Canine Studies (located in Penngrove, California) with the partnership of The Menlo Park Veterans Administration Medical Center started a research program.
Why this program is so important? Because today that program is an amazing non-profit organization with 5 locations nationwide. That organization is called Paws for Purple Hearts.
A few months ago I traveled to Penngrove where PPH’s national office is located. There I met with the founder of the University, the creator of PPH, Dr. Bonnie Bergin, and the team. That was a great experience.
PPH connects veterans with highly trained service dogs. They call them champ service dogs. The organization believes golden retrievers and labradors (or a mix of those two) are the best breeds for the purpose of becoming the champ service dog.
The most amazing thing about their training program is that it involves between 40 to 60 veterans per dog. One pup can have a therapeutic impact on so many people who need it. WOW!
The puppies are born and spend most of their early puppyhood in Penngrove. After they reach a certain age, a volunteer drives them once a week to the Menlo Park location (and back) for a puppy petting event and to start their training with veterans. Now, the best part is that everybody (age 14+) can sign up to become a puppy petter. Yes, you read that right. You come and pet puppies for an entire hour, once a week. I can assure you, just that itself has therapeutic powers! Puppy petting is designed to introduce the pups to all kinds of positive stimulation around people and they need as many of us as possible. 🙂
It costs PPH $35k to fully train ONE service dog! Can you imagine that?
Bergin University programs are growing. PPH is only one of them. When I visited Penngrove’s team they seemed really busy with 3 different litters. One of the litters will go to PPH. It’s the one you can see in the video. The two remaining litters will go to different programs. However, with the growth, they need to increase manpower and raise money.
Simply speaking, they need as much help as they can get.
Volunteers are always needed! Same with donations. PPH’s website has detailed information about getting involved with them, so please visit and see if you can!
Maybe I’ll see you there next time.
I’ve been Natural Light Family Photographer for over 3 years now. For two years I’ve own a tiny set up for portable studio, and used it mostly for Smash Cake sessions in my clients’ homes. However, I’ve always felt like there are other ways to use the equipment I have, and I’m limiting myself by not learning about it. Whenever I tried something new, I did not know where to start from. I lacked inspiration and had great amount of excuses not do dig deeper.
How did that happen?
Well, thanks to a friend I recently learned about a portrait workshop, and I instantly knew it’s something I’d love to do, but again, I was looking for excuses not to take it.
For a long time I’ve tried to convince myself that blasting a great amount of light on my subject to make it look flawless, is to know it all for my business, and I should be happy with knowing at least that much. However deep inside I knew it’s not how I want to do it, and that I want to do something more creative.
One of the excuses was that my equipment is not enough, and I should wait until I get something bigger and better. But the truth is, I didn’t even know what I need, because I’ve never practiced anything beyond my comfort zone which is required to know the limit of my equipment.
And here I am today. Taking the workshop and working on my second assignment. My equipment works just fine. Of course, I could have better and bigger stuff, but seriously, I don’t really need it for now.
In the workshop we have 2 weeks to study one great photographer and then be inspired by that person, and create work based on what we’ve learned about this photographer. It is awesome. Two weeks and I feel like I’ve learned a tone already.
Pictures for this post are inspired by David Bailey work, my first assignment for this workshop.
Each week we are inspired to create something. We’re pushed to get out there and work whatever we have and just learn. I’m loving it.
I’m not sure if my pups is loving it as much as I am, though 😉
Today, I’m working on the assignment for Gregory Heisler and I don’t remember the last time I was so frustrated with photography. I don’t remember when I was thinking so much about a concept for ONE portrait. Where to put what, and where bounce what to get the vision I have in my head. It’s a good frustration, though. It pushes me out of my comfort zone.
Can’t wait to see what’s ahead.
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