Helping Paws
Healing Hearts

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What Others are Saying About Helping Paws

"I recently retired from a successful teaching career and I've been presented with several ministry opportunities that were not possible when I worked full time as an elementary classroom teacher. One of those opportunities is that of having a furry friend, Jazz, who has turned out to be a very playful pet therapy dog at our local alzheimer's facility. He visits weekly and loves visiting the patients.

Jazz's journey began first with dog obedience with Buddy Cummings and then I was referred to Amy Hicks for the possibility of doing pet therapy with him. I was curious if Jazz would even be a good candidate as he is not a lap dog, he is very playful. Amy and a fellow associate of hers took the time to access Jazz and he passed with flying colors! I was instructed as how to phase Jazz into the therapy environment and all that was entailed with basic certification through our veterinarian.  

Jazz and I enjoy our time at Brookdale. It appears that visiting these patients is OUR ministry and I'm thankful for Amy's assistance in helping me with the process!"

Kathy Karnes

Cleveland, Tennessee


Romeo and Happy: The Dogs in Our Classroom

We got Romeo from Mrs. Hicks and Larry and Daryl after a Helping Paws lesson. We had a vote to name him and Romeo was the name that got the most votes.

Some of us thought he was lonely especially at night and needed a friend. Kazzie brought in another dog just like him whose name is Happy.

Now Romeo has a friend and is no longer lonely anymore.

We love to hold and cuddle both of our dogs. They make us feel happy when we feel sad and we need a friend. We can earn the privilege of holding a dog for a day. We love our classroom dogs.
                                                          Vicki Cline (2nd grade teacher)

Colorful Experiences

In Mrs. Bunch’s Class at Cleveland Middle School

            In April, Mrs. Hicks and Larry came to our classroom for their monthly visit. They brought a special gift to leave with our class. The gift was a stuffed red and white dog. Our class named him “Colorful”.

            Our class worked as a team to build “Colorful” a doghouse. The house was built of a used box and it was covered with brown squares on the top and many colors of rectangles on the sides. Our class worked in teams to decide what the pattern on each side should look like. We used the vocabulary we had worked on in class to describe our work. We threw around terms like right angle, quadrilateral, parallelogram and more.

            Since “Colorful” has been living in our class, we have written many stories about him. The stories have allowed us to practice language skills like reading environmental print, punctuation, and capitalization. We have reviewed and applied what we have learned this year about the elements that all living things need to survive, the kinds of habitats that different animals can live well, in graphing, voting, etc.

            Most recently, we took “Colorful” back to visit Mrs. Hicks and Larry. We shared with them that “Colorful” is fed once a day and drinks about two gallons of water but is checked on much more often. We, also, created a special blend of dog food that “Colorful” can pretend to enjoy but that we really love to munch on at snack time. Being dog food creators allowed us to practice turn taking, measuring, cooking vocabulary and the difference between make believe and reality.

            Many of the activities that we have done with “Colorful” have been spawned from the character, creativity and caring activities that Mrs. Hicks and Larry have shared with us this year. We are grateful for their visits, for their example and encouragement. We look forward to working with them again in 2009-2010.

 Submitted by Mrs. Karen Bunch, Teacher, Cleveland Middle School

Dear Mrs. Hicks,

 It was fun when I got to meet one of the dogs, I hope I get to meet them soon again. Thank you for it.

Kindergarten Student

The Camden Chronicle (by Susan Corbin)

On Wednesday, April 23rd, Amy Elmore Hicks, Ed.S., appeared at the Big Sandy School along with her mother, Barbara Elmore, and Larry. “Dogs just have a way with children!” Hicks states in her pamphlet regarding Helping Paws. “Dogs are wonderful listeners and children usually respond very positively to dogs.”

Daryl and Larry, two special 4-year-old rescued black lab mixes, are the ‘Helping Paws’ who assist Amy, educator and counselor, as she travels to schools, churches and after-school programs, bringing powerful lessons to children. The dogs were rescued and adopted through the foster care component of E.S.P. (Exclusively Shelter Pets), Cleveland, TN. They are qualified to run, play and dig, and are happiest when in the middle of a group of children. Daryl and Larry have passed obedience training, the canine good citizen test and are registered therapy dogs. They ‘volunteer’ regularly with Alzheimer’s patients.

Hicks has her Master’s Degree in Education and her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She is a certified school counselor with eleven years experience in public education, and a member of the following organizations: American School Counselor Association, Delta Kappa Gamma (for women educators), and TheraPaws of Atlanta.

The Helping Paws teaches programs on: Character Education, Anger Management, Bullying, Social Skills, Self-Esteem, Drug Awareness, and Life Skills.

Their mission states that their purpose is to enrich the lives of children by providing unconditional love while providing educational and social programming. 

Dear Amy, Daryl, and Larry

Thank you for coming to our school. I really liked to see Larry do different things! I wish you could've brought Daryl with you. Anyways thanks again for coming to Holladay School. Hope ya’ll had fun.                                                      

Your Helping Paws Friend

A Student at Holladay Elementary School


I have received ALL good reviews about the program you did.  We are recommending you to Tiger Creek Elementary
  Counselor-West Side Elementary School 

I think the children did learn from the program. Larry was WONDERFUL!!
  2nd Grade Teacher

I thought it was great and the kids loved it.
  3rd Grade Teacher

Kids enjoyed the presentation...worth the time
  Preschool Program

Hi, Amy!  I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your presentation at Yes2Kids, I think you are doing great things, and I'm looking forward to learning more. 

Program Coordinator for Greenway & Wetlands Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department

Hi Amy!
I received your book yesterday...It's great!   Tell Daryl & Larry they know how to strike a pose!!!
Great job!  
Jacksonville, Fl

Hi Amy,
            I just had an opportunity today to read your 'Helping Paws' flyer.What a wonderful way to reach out to children and seniors too.            Parent, Polk County, Tennessee

Thank you for coming.  I did not tell them ahead of time this morning. They would have been so excited, we would not have gotten anything done.  They always love your visits.
  2nd Grade Teacher

Thanks for doing such a great job handling 65 kids with such great ease.  Believe it or not, I learned some tips that day from your years of experience!              
Elementary School Counselor 


Hi Amy,
               Words can't express my thanks enough for your gift to us this weekend.  As I read through the feedback sheets from the weekend this morning I came across one that stated your dogs were their HIGHLIGHT of their weekend!  The feedback from the parents was very positive and they expressed appreciation for the quality of care their children received.  They were able to fully relax and enjoy the weekend.  Thank you for coming, and for sharing yourself.  I hope that we can work more together in the future.  Give Larry and Daryl a hug from me.
Memorial Hospital We Care Cancer Weekend

Hi Amy,
       I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how proud I am to know you and what a great service you are providing with your Helping Paws program.  You are an inspiration, keep up the great work.
Business Owner

"Amy did an amazing job with the children in my program. With other lessons the children are rowdy and get bored easily, but they were locked into what she and her dog had to say, and they were excited about seeing them again!" 
After School Coordinator