Paws and Hearts

“Paws & Hearts” is an Animal Assisted Therapy’s Pet Loss Bereavement Group. Article by Richard Waxman

For 22 years “Paws & Hearts” has provided the Coachella Valley with its trained Canine Ambassadors who, along with their handlers, have made weekly visits to local hospitals, long-term care facilities, cancer centers and special needs classes. While the visits have been on hold during the pandemic, their monthly Bereavement Group has continued in person, with all safety protocols in place.

Six years ago, Founder & Executive Director Richard Waxman’s beloved dog “Scruffy” passed away at almost 16 years of age, after an 18 month illness. A long life for sure, but as any pet owner knows, it’s never long enough. Richard was devastated and was searching for a group to share what he was going through, but there was nothing offered locally.

After listening to stories of pet loss for forty years, Richard established the Bereavement Support Group. That was six years and a few hundred participants ago. The group provides a safe place to share feelings of pet loss, which are devastating to deal with. Participants share what they are going through, and listen to what others are experiencing, which are usually very similar experiences.

Based on the overwhelming number of thank you letters and emails, the support groups have helped people deal with the loss of their beloved companion animals. If you have recently lost a beloved dog or cat and need support and direction, please visit the “Paws & Hearts” website at

At the top of the opening page is the introduction for the group. Follow the prompts, read through the information, and register for the group which meets the second Wednesday of every month at 1pm in their Palm Desert office: 4-133 El Paseo, Ste. 7 Palm Desert, 92260. You can also call “Paws & Hearts” Animal Assisted Therapy at (760) 836-1406.



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