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Healing Paws®

Animal Assisted Therapy Provider

 

"a special kind of listening"

Contact Us:

cwdudzik@healingpaws.com

(425)488-3061

ABOUT US

 

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Current staff: Christi Dudzik, Healing Paws president, with Pet Partners Ruby (Papillion),

and Paddy (yellow lab)

OUR STAFF

Healing Paws employs individuals with post-graduate degrees in the fields of Mental Health or Social Work, along with their registered therapy canine teammates.

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Our mission is to increase the quality of life for individuals during their stay in health care facilities and individuals experiencing cynophobia (fear of dogs). We focus on the whole person: their physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual well-being.  As part of a registered therapy team (human-animal) our dogs work with us to motivate individuals in their therapy, bridge communication gaps with the medical staff, and relieve stress for everyone.

 

Our goals are to promote the human-animal bond through the development of animal assisted activity and therapy (AAA/T) programs in today's health care settings, to educate the public in workshops and classes, and to raise awareness of AAA/T through speaking at local and national conferences.

Christi Dudzik, M.C., LMHC

President and owner of Healing Paws. She received her bachelor's degree in Secondary Education - Psychology and Social Studies from Clemson University in 1979 and her Master's degree in Counseling and certification in Addiction Studies from Seattle University in 1991. She taught high school for nine years and worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for over two years.

 

Christi also has extensive education and training in animal behavior. She has been training dogs in obedience since 1986 and showed her dogs competitively, both in the United States and Canada.

 

Christi is certified with Pet Partners® as a Master Instructor and Master Team Evaluator in their Pet Partners® Program for handler-animal therapy teams. She has developed and conducts workshops and skills training classes for volunteers and professionals wishing to work with their animals in the community.

 

Because of her deep belief in the human-animal bond, Christi, along with her canine associates Bear and Gipper, created Healing Paws in 1994.

 

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PHOTO BY ANIL KAPAHI

 

Shug’s owner, Christi Dudzik, proves that Shug can be a lap dog too.

 

Healing Paws Inc., how it all started

 

In 1991, Christi Dudzik, while working on her master's degree in counseling at Seattle University, saw a flier for a Pet Partners® workshop. As an avid dog owner who had been training dogs since 1986 and showed her dogs competitively, she decided to check it out. That decision led her to a career as an AAT professional.

 

Dudzik started as a Pet Partners volunteer in 1993 at a skilled nursing facility -- The Care Center at Kelsey Creek. She was quickly frustrated as the facility had more need than she could give. They had approached her to volunteer eight hours a week -- an amount of time she could not financially afford to give. Understanding that their request was unrealistic, the facility offered to pay her for her services as a Certified Mental Health Counselor.

 

Dudzik couldn't get reduced hours at her other job, so she quit to devote herself to AAT full-time. "A door cracked open and I had to walk through it," she explained. Her hours were expanded to 28 a week (which included program and policy development, report writing, paperwork, charting and meetings in addition to AAT sessions). 

 

Because of her deep belief in the healing power of the human-animal bond, Dudzik, along with her canine associates Bear and Gipper, created Healing Paws in 1994. Public speaking engagements led to two new programs at separate facilities. Healing Paws now has four employees: one administrative assistant (who is in the process of becoming a Pet Partner) and three social workers/counselors who are registered Pet Partners.

 

Though Dudzik is quick to extol the benefits of volunteer Pet Partners, she also stresses the need for professionals in the field as well. "We can work with the more difficult populations -- the hard-to-reach folks," she says. Often working with recreational therapists, Dudzik's staff is there to enhance the care patients are getting from their primary physicians.

 

Dudzik is also licensed with Pet Partners as a Pet Partners Instructor and Animal Evaluator, allowing her to assist facilities in setting up an AAT program, including staff education.

 

Dudzik is a prime example of the professional AAT provider. She has merged her love for dogs and her profession as a counselor to help people in need. Dudzik equates the animal to a treatment tool: "a very effective tool, I might add -- with children of all ages."

 

For information on how you can incorporate AAT into your health-care profession, contact Pet Partners at www.petpartners.org

If you are already providing AAT as a licensed professional, Pet Partners would like to include you in their referral and networking database.