Two Pups Wellness Fund
Two Pups Wellness Fund recently launched Grown Pups for Grown Ups to address issues that may prevent older dogs housed at Maricopa County Care and Control from being adopted. They provide funding for wellness blood tests, treatment for some diseases, adoption fees and behavioral training. They also support community awareness and events to help older pups find homes.
Nancy Silver, the fund’s founder, established the program in 2017 in honor of her own two pups. She was inspired after a trip to urgent care one night with her dog, Lacie.
“I watched a family bring their dog in that was on death’s door and when they couldn’t pay, they were turned away. At that moment, I pledged that I would do something to help change this situation,” Nancy explains.
Two Pups (TwoPups.org) was established as a community resource to provide financial assistance, working directly with local shelters and rescues. Nancy started the program with Bip Haley, their director of operations. The two women were business neighbors and friends for years. Nancy owns a stationery and gift store, and Bip and her husband own a gallery.
“People are often concerned that older dogs may have an underlying history of health or possible behavioral issues. These fears cause longer stays for so many homeless senior pups, which can wear on any animal and affect their attitude and energy. That is where we come in, providing the health and behavior screenings,” says Bip.
The organization partners with Community Canine Project, a program with experience in the behavior of shelter animals. They work hands-on with the older dogs and provide assessments that can be shared with adopting families.
“Older dogs are great for families, older couples or seniors living alone looking for companionship. Also, busy 30-somethings who don’t have the time and flexibility to train a puppy,” says Nancy. “They are a bit more settled and mature. They are usually house-trained, and they just get it. They know our language and how to relax and just be. They make wonderful companions and family members.”
A senior dog isn’t as old as one might think. The program provides care to dogs as young as 4-years-old.
Bip says, “A 4 or 5-year-old dog still has a long life ahead, especially when they are well-cared for.”
Gabriel’s Angels (GabrielsAngels.org) works with at-risk children through pet therapy. The organization strives to inspire confidence and compassion, while encouraging best behaviors. Their teams consist of a human volunteer and their dog, who must register and pass a basic manners course with Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Pet Partners. The human goes through their own clearance checks, and once the team is processed, there’s an onboarding and training period. Then the real magic can begin.
“What we truly do is intangible, this bond between a child and dog creates something that impacts not only their day, but the world that they live in,” explains Blake Blackman-Woody, Gabriel’s Angels’ director of development.
Teams participate in the literacy program coined ABC, which stands for animals, books and children. They also have an individual intervention program which is an intensive program between a child, the pet therapy team and a child psychologist. They work with 122 partner facilities free of charge, including Title 1 schools, behavioral health clinics, homeless shelters, foster care programs and domestic violence shelters.
“Dogs love unconditionally—it doesn’t matter what you look like, how you act, or even how you feel, they just love you. So putting a child who has had a bad day or has had difficulty at home with a dog who leans a little on the kid to receive pets, or maybe to give a nose bump, can take that child out of those negative emotions and thoughts, and lets that child be a kid,” says Blake.
Any breed can be a therapy dog. Various traits can be beneficial in different situations and matches are made accordingly. An active dog might be a great fit for an 8-year-old because they can keep up and play games, while a calm dog may be perfect to love on a teenager or calm a small child.
The scope of their programs varies depending on the children’s needs and ages, which range from little ones to teens. There are 190 pet therapy teams throughout Arizona and they reach 15,000 kids annually.
“A relationship with a Boys & Girls Club group is going to be very different than a preschool group at a Head Start or homeless shelter. But the consistent theme is the unconditional love a dog can give to a child,” says Blake.