All About US
The Paw Partnership grew slowly from our love of animals and children and our awareness of the need for a partnership between our human and animal patients.
OUR STORY began with a vet and a child psychologist who were passionate about helping their patients. After years of collaboration between these doctors, Bubbles Blue, the Pomeranian puppy, joined the psychologist's practice and had a unique connection with a patient with autism who was having difficulty regulating his emotions. While therapy dogs had
been a part of this practice for many years, Bubbles was able to calm this child so quickly and easily that she became an indispensable part of the medical practice, calming children and helping families communicate. After a while, Bubbles' job was too big for just her to handle alone, so we added a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Havanese to help out. Group Therapy was better! Individual treatment was better! Kids were happy! Parents were happy! Dogs and doctors were happy! Then people started asking if we would train service dogs for their children. We started slowly with one dog, then two, until the waiting list grew and the need was so great that we founded the Paw Partnership to meet the needs of children and families and to keep our amazing volunteers busy. Patient families fostered puppies. Teenagers with social anxiety took their foster puppies and started talking to people about service dogs. Children with behavior problems and emotional regulation issues fostered dogs and learned to care for themselves and their foster dog and learned to better self-regulate. Read more about Our Dogs!
Dr. Deborah Cihonski is a licensed pediatric Clinical Psychologist and has been in practice for over 25 years. She is Director of the Healing House, a clinical care group. Dr. Cihonski is a certified Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist and works extensively with children with chronic health conditions. She grew up showing and training dogs since early childhood, and is a Canine Good Citizen evaluator for the American Kennel Club.
Dr. Deborah Cihonski
Hilary Pagorek works as a Certified ADHD Coach and Art Therapy Consultant for the Healing House. She is an avid dog lover and as a Certified Dog Trainer, directs the Paw Partnership’s training program. With a professional and personal understanding of children with behavior disorders and disabilities, her positive training method produce outstanding service dogs.
Dr. Kimberly Curtis is a veterinarian who has provided holistic and traditional veterinary care to small animals for over 25 years. She promotes the human-animal bond in her work and has been a professional dog trainer for nearly 30 years, specializing in nose/scent work and positive behavior modification. She is also a Canine Good Citizen evaluator for the American Kennel Club.
Dr. Kimberly Curtis
Jessica Kardelis is the head of the Paw Partnership’s in-home puppy evaluation and training program. As puppies move into foster care to begin training for their future work, she evaluates their temperaments and begins basic training and intensive socialization with each puppy, developing a training plan with specific targets and goals.