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Handi-Dogs, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Deaf & Hearing Impaired Centers, Disabilities, Health, Health Care, Human Services, Senior Centers, Seniors

Mission: Handi-Dogs began in 1973 to serve the needs of seniors and people with disabilities (we define disability in accordance with the ADA). Independence, freedom and dignity are the benefits that a client receives from training his or her own dog to meet their individual emotional and physical needs. Training builds upon the existing relationship between the owner and their dog, and the bond grows into a working partnership.

Target demographics: people with disabilities.

Geographic areas served: Tucson and Southern Arizona

Programs: service dog training for people with PTSD, mobility challenges, full or partial hearing loss, some vision challenges, autism, diabetes and other disabilities. We also offer special dog training programs for senior handlers (ages 65+) and for therapy dogs - people who want to volunteer by taking their dog to hospitals, hospice, assisted-living, read-to-a-dog programs at schools or libraries, and many other places where people can benefit from the comfort and joy of a happy, well-mannered dog.

Community Stories

53 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

Handi Dogs is a wonderful organization that not only helps you training your do to become a service dog. they also do community outreach and education regarding service dogs. I used them for a class on confidence building for your scared of skiddish dog. I learned so much from them and so happy they are available in the community.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Handi-dogs is great non-profit that helps locals in the community train their dogs to become service dogs. In addition to all the good things they do, they also have a rescue to service program that fosters dogs from local shelters to train to become service dogs for people in the community that need a service dog.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a young high-schooler looking to expand her horizon for future career options, Handi-Dogs really showed me which path I was meant to be on. This is such an amazing company that is run by a charismatic team. Every time I go to a training session I leave feeling refreshed and encouraged to work with my pets at home. I have never seen an organization work so hard for their community like this one does. Handi-Dogs has the purest intentions for every dog that walks in their door and helps them leave as a better member of the community.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can’t imagine life without my service dog that you taught me how to train, and certainly without all of you from Handi-Dogs. Everyone is so patient, understanding and so good to me. Just know that I am very grateful. There are no words that could express how I feel. I know I can’t express myself, but when I come home from any opportunity we have to help, my confidence is building. I’m sure you know when we get to help a new team, we’re the ones that are receiving a treasure of your experience of training and every time we learn a little more. Thank you, It makes life worth living again.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Being a Foster at Handi-Dogs has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life! Watching a dog that I've helped rescue go on to help a person with disabilities gives you an incredible feeling that is hard to explain unless you've lived it!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been working with Habdi-dogs for 6 years now and continue to be impressed with the training skills they demonstrate. The “teams” (clients and their service dogs) are empowered to experience life to the fullest by having the confidence to go outside, to work, to play, etc. it certainly is a game changer for many.

Board Member

Rating: 5

What an amazing organization! I just became involved with Handi-Dogs and had the opportunity to attend a graduation ceremony for teams of newly trained service dogs and the person for whom they are providing assistance. The work these teams go through to complete the program is extensive and at least 18 months long. Each graduate talked about how important the support they got from Hand-Dogs staff and volunteers was to their success. The Rescue to Service program they have started identifies, fosters, and trains shelter dogs that are good service dog candidates. It is truly inspirational. Keep up the great work!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being part of the Rescue to Service (RTS) Program has been one of the most rewarding experiences. This program pairs shelter dogs with fosters who teach the dog basic obedience skills and provides insight into the socialization and temperament of the dog in the hopes that the dog is matched with a person with disabilities ranging from mobility challenges, hearing challenges, psychiatric disorders, diabetes and seizures.

When I joined the program in August of 2017, I knew nothing about dogs. This did not matter because the Handi-Dog team took the time to teach me how to take care of and train the dog. This training allowed me to take a shelter dog, offer it a safe and loving home, teach it basic obedience skills, socialize it, and prepare it to go on to help someone in a short amount of time.

I am always asked, "How can you give up the dog"? I tell people it is not about me. It is about the dog and the person that the dog is going to help. When you see the dog get matched, the progress the dog and the person are making, and how it is changing not only the dog's life but the person's life, it will bring tears of joy to your eyes. I am so proud I am part of Handi-Dogs.

Handi-Dogs, Inc. is always looking for people interested in fostering because the need in the community is so great. So if you want to give back to the community and improve the lives of a dog and a person with a disability, I would highly recommend giving your time to Handi-Dogs, Inc. They are very supportive and do wonderful work. Thank you Handi-Dogs!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was introduced to Handi-Dogs, Inc. in July of 2017 when I was researching and interviewing organizations that had volunteer opportunities where I could help people and give back to the community.

Handi-Dogs, Inc. is an amazing nonprofit organization that offers several programs/classes emphasizing handler/dog teamwork and using positive reinforcement techniques. First, the Service Dog Program helps people with mobility challenges, full or partial hearing loss, psychiatric disorders, diabetes, seizures and other disabilities train their own dogs to be their service dog. Second, the Pet Drop-In Class helps those who want to teach their dogs to be well-mannered companions. Third, the Pet Therapy Drop-In Class helps individuals that want to volunteer as a therapy dog team and take their dog to hospitals, hospice, assisted-living and read-to-a-dog programs. Lastly, the Rescue to Service Program pairs shelter dogs with fosters who teach the dog basic obedience skills and provides insight into the socialization and temperament of the dog in the hopes that the dog is matched with a person with a disability.

Volunteering with Handi-Dogs has been a very pleasurable experience. It's unlike other volunteer opportunities because they understand how vital a volunteer is to the organization and they make us feel appreciated and like part of the team. The staff is always saying thank you and even organizes volunteer-appreciation activities to let us know how much they appreciate us and what we have done for the organization. The trainers are highly experienced, honest, friendly, and easily accessible. They provide clear instructions and direction as to what they will be teaching and what they need us to do for them. If we have a question, all the staff is more then willing to take the time to answer it in detail and provide examples or recommend additional training materials. They even have a mentoring program where the volunteers help each other out.

If you have some time to give back to the community, I highly recommend volunteering for this organization.

Thank you Handi-Dogs, Inc. for all you do and for making a difference in so many peoples lives!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Handidogs has been such an amazing organization for both me and my Shetland Sheepdog. I became disabled after being a passenger in an accident. My sweet dog immediately took notice to the fact that I was "different" and started doing things for me naturally. I knew that I should help her help me by getting her formally trained. I started off training her with a trainer who used negative reinforcement as well as positive. It really negatively impacted my relationship with my dog and made her nervous to train. I am so glad that I found Handidogs shortly after because they use only positive reinforcement training and taught me the procedure behind clicker training so that I could use those tools to keep working with my dog everyday, even though I meet with the trainer once a week. My dog is so happy to help me and work and her anxieties have melted away. She is so comfortable and confident and is so proud to perform helpful tasks for me. Our relationship had really flourished and she is a happy dog! Handidogs also offers fun courses to enjoy with my dog as well aside from the formal training. My dog loves going to the Handidogs building because such good things go on there and the staff is so friendly and helpful.

Handidogs changed both our lives (my dog and my own) for the better and I'm very thankful for all their hard work and for all of the services they offer. They are so dedicated to the success of all dogs and humans and I'm very blessed to be able to work with them! Highly recommended!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We are so thankful for Handi-Dogs and their work in the community. They helped my dad get his dog trained, certified, but also gave him a support system and community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Handi-Dogs is an outstanding organization. With excellent leadership and staff, they stay mission focused "Improving people's quality of life with a trained dog at their side". I'm proud to be Volunteer at their signature event Dogtoberfest. Over the years I have expanded my role from volunteer to vendor to sponsor. The addition of the Rescue to Service program has expanded the organization's reach and created collaborative community partnerships. If you're looking for an organization to get involved with and/or donate to Handi-Dogs is 5 Star!

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been donating to Handi-Dogs for over 5 years. I always get a very timely thank you note for my donations - usually it is handwritten which means a lot to me. The stories they share of how the people's lives are changed by training a service dog are heart warming. I am inspired to continue supporting this wonderful organization.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have had nothing but a wonderful experience with Handi-Dogs. They are extremely knowledgeable in all things Service Dog related. They have a fabulous staff that have been very kind and professional throughout our experience. I went through their Rescue to Service (RTS) program and it has far exceeded my expectations. In my opinion they are hands down the best organization to go through if you would like to get a service dog. I highly recommend Handi-Dogs!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Handi-dogs has a great mission and such friendly people helping and working towards the goal of helping people train their dogs to be a service dog. I have never been involved with a non-profit organization so well run and organized. Documentation and operations are top notch and run efficiently and effectively. Trainers are warm and friendly but knowledge and strong leaders. If you are a dog lover or want to help people this group has a mission that helps 2 legged and 4 legged friends.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Fostering / training for Handi-Dogs Rescue To Service program is one of the most rewarding experiences! It's unlike other foster opportunities because you really get to be part of the progression of the dog from rescue/shelter to his/her forever home with a person with a disability. It's like pieces of a puzzle... you help save a dog, the dog helps save a person and the person with a disability gets a new lease on life! I really feel lucky to be one of the pieces of such a valuable puzzle!
If you have some spare time and a love for dogs, I highly recommend you at least contact Handi-Dogs to find out how to get involved!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Such an extremely rewarding experience!! I foster and train dogs for Handi-Dogs Rescue To Service Program. I take my foster to a really fun and informative class once a week then my foster dog and I practice basic obedience cues during the week. I share information about the dog with the staff once a week about how he's doing with other dogs, children, new experiences etc.
This foster opportunity is unlike some of the ones at rescues because I get to be very involved in the progression of the dog. I help save a dog from a rescue/shelter and then he/she goes on to save a person with a disability. It's incredible to witness the bond between these dogs and the person they are matched with. It's rewarding for everyone involved!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our 9yr old daughter is Type 1 diabetic, she falls dangerously low with her blood sugar levels while sleeping. We were referred to Handi-Dogs to look into diabetic alert dog training for new puppy. Our family and I are just crazy about Rama, our trainer at Handi-Dogs. She’s ABSOLUTELY wonderful, she has given us such amazing tools in our training and we’ve barely begun! Our experience with Rama and the company has defined Handi-Dogs as an elite business, they are so professional and knowledgeable, I can’t thank your organization, but in particular, Rama, we are so glad to have her teaching us!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter is visually-impaired, and we began researching options for a service dog for her to take to college when she was young. Her vision loss is not severe and we wanted to be involved in the training, so Handi-dogs was the perfect solution. Handi-dogs advised us through the process of getting a dog and then trained our team to work together when her chocolate lab was ready. They are a highly proficient team, and they walked together to get a university diploma last May in Alaska! That's a LOT of airplane flights over 8 semesters! Now I'm a volunteer with the Rescue-to-Service program, and have fostered 2 wonderful dogs that have been placed with their person to become new teams. It is such a wonderful program and we get so much help and support from Handi-dogs personnel. They are part of a great organization that deserves generous support!

1 Genie J.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Handi-Dogs is a wonderful, caring organization with an important vision -- to take shelter dogs and train them to become service dogs. It takes a unique dog to become a service animal, and dedicated people who can train and love them into perfect partners for those whose lives are challenged with physical and emotional disabilities. I am in training right now at Handi-dogs with my rescue dog Sophia. Handi-Dogs uses all positive, methodical, and consistent training methods. It is wonderful to watch dogs come to class for the first time, bounding all over the place, and watch them transform with patient and persistent training to become alert, responsive and watchful support systems. This program is life-changing for the dogs and the people who need them. I whole heartedly recommend Handi-Dogs.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Handidogs helped me train to be my personal service dog. She just st got certified in October 2016. They stick with you and help even after you're certified. Couldn't ask for a better group of people!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have attended Handi-Dogs' basic and advanced obedience classes with three of my dogs. I have been a therapy dog team with two of these dogs and am now working on good doggie manners with the third and youngest dog. Classes are comfortable, supportive and affordable, and employ positive-training methods that help strengthen our relationship with our dogs.

When my youngest dog and I started the basic obedience class, he could not sit still and wanted only to meet all the other dogs - he let us know that with a lot of whining and barking. Now when we go to class, we can walk calmly to our place, where he settles himself in quickly on his mat. He has a sweet disposition and is a quick learner. Once we master the basic and advanced obedience classes, we aspire to attend graduate school at Handi-Dogs' therapy dog preparation class. Thanks, Handi-Dogs!

Client Served

Rating: 5

After adopting a rather shy rescue dog, we began training for basic obedience by attending the drop-in Pet Dog classes. The small group training has really helped our pup to develop a greater confidence and has enabled us to build a strong relationship with her. The interactions with the trainers and volunteers have allowed her sweet and loving personality to blossom. We now attend the drop-in Therapy Dog classes. The trainers, volunteers and staff have been wonderful. They are friendly, knowledgeable and patient and offer helpful suggestions tailored to each specific dog's needs. The indoor training facility is a blessing in our hot summers. Great organization and a real service to the community.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I recently had the pleasure of attending a graduation at Handi-Dogs. I was so impressed to hear each graduate's story and it only reaffirmed my commitment to the organization. To hear firsthand the beneficial impact of dogs and individuals working together to improve one's quality of life, as well as save lives, had me in awe. Also, the obvious bond between each demonstrated their was mutual regard and love. One of the stories shared at the event was about an Akita who was trained to alert his owner of diabetic alerts. Truly life saving.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our Service dog - Pogo - and I have been working with Handi-Dogs for almost three years. Pogo is an 8 or 9 year old ChiWeenie. Handi-Dogs, helped us turn Pogo from a nervous dog, into a happy confident helper for my husband who has Parkinson's. Pogo is not large enough to help Bob stand up after he falls, but Pogo always alerts me (day or night) and she is always the first at Bob's side.
Handi-Dogs was wonderful at helping me to train Pogo - both in the class room and then later at our house. i continue to go back - even after she was certified as a service dog - as Handi-Dogs has useful sessions about service dogs being in public. The individuals that work ans volunteer at Handi-Dogs are all above expectations.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have attended the Drop-In Pet Dog class and also the Drop-In Therapy Dog class. The trainers and assistants are friendly, patient AND knowledgeable. They train using positive reinforcement. The training is customized to fit you and your dogs needs. If you want a well behaved dog, this is a great place to train. The classes are reasonably priced and the staff is very dedicated to helping you attain your goal.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Recently heard a presentation made by a member of the organization. She did an amazing job explaining to our group the difference between service, emotional-support and therapy dogs. Never realized that each type of dog has different roles and regulations as far as being able to take into public stores. Fascinating how dogs really can improve people's health and help them to live more independently. Was surprised to learn that they do these presentations free as part of their community education efforts. Nice work.

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

I began donating in 2011 and continue to do so on a regular basis. Having been to several of their events and have read many stories of how their trained service dogs have so greatly changed the lives of their clients, how could I not continue to support this organization. Especially as they only utilize positive training methods - they respect both the people and the dogs that they work with. Amazing work!!!

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been donating to Handi-Dogs for 4 years. Unlike many nonprofits I have supported, I am always thanked quickly when I send a donation. I continue being impressed with all they do - not just training dogs to be service and therapy dogs, but all their community education and outreach efforts as well.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a hearing impaired individual my owner is unable to process many sounds. Wisely, she realized that with professional training, she and I could develop an assistive partnership whereby I could alert her to many of those missed signals. Together we enrolled in Handi-Dogs service animal training program, and under the watchful eyes of the instructors I became skilled at executing one and two way sound alerts. She became skilled at delivering the reward treats in a timely manner… As a certified service dog team we continue to strengthen our partnership by volunteering for and donating to this very worthwhile organization. I can't imagine a better place to be.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I loved Handi_Dogs, and we miss them every day! This company was great to volunteer for, and we would gladly do it again!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I loved volunteering for Handi-dogs, and I miss them since we moved. They are a great company with great people!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I trained my Yellow Labrador Retriever, Luna, through the program at Handi-Dogs. She received certification in one year and has been an invaluable companion and aide to me ever since. The trainers were experienced, very friendly, and easily accessible when I had questions or needed help. I know that if Luna (or I!) need additional training, they'll be there to help me. Service dogs can improve life for so many people who don't realize the value the dogs can offer. Getting the word out to those who can be helped is a real mission of mine, and of Handi-Dogs.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been a professional animal trainer for over 20 years. My father has Parkinson's, so it is a topic close to my heart. I recently approached Handi-Dogs about assisting in the training of my Great Pyrenees to be a service dog for my dad. They were very receptive and set up a meeting right away. We were able to discuss the specific needs associated with Parkinson's that would make this training slightly different than a mobility dog. Together, we were able to develop a successful training plan that has worked wonderfully for my dad. The staff at Handi-Dogs are professional, courteous, caring, and most of all, passionate about the success of people and their dogs.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My Golden Retriever and I have been going to the drop-in classes at Handi-Dogs for several weeks, so we could practice the skills we need to be re-certified as a therapy team. I found the trainers and other staff members to be very knowledgeable and skilled in working with dogs, and they were wonderful in helping me refine my handling skills. After watching my dog and me interact, the trainers tailored the practice session to meet our specific needs.

Everyone at the facility was warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic about their role at Handi-Dogs. I would highly recommend the classes and other offerings to anyone with a pet companion they want to build a stronger relationship with.

Susan323

Donor

Rating: 5

When I adopted my current canine companion 9 years ago, I knew immediately that he was meant to serve as a therapy dog. I went to Handi-Dogs for our initial training and I have been a fan, donor, and participant in various activities ever since. Handi-dogs provides a variety of great services for our community from a venue for Therapy animal team training to training for assistive dogs. I am continuously impressed by the work they do.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My poodle and I are a therapy team, visiting libraries and nursing homes. Handi-Dogs has provided great activities and training for me and my dog, especially during these hot summer months when training outside is no fun. I really appreciate the dedication of the folks working and volunteering at Handi-Dogs for all they do to help people with disabilities and for teams like Sherry and me so we can do our job better.