About Nathan Freeland

I like to write...sometimes about random things...but always about God, Jesus or the simple things that really matter. I have a gaggle of kids, a beautiful wife, live in California and dream about making Church irresistible.

An Update on Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions

A lot has been going on with regards to a previous post about our poorly trained service dog that was purchased from Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions. (NOTE: If you’ve come to this page through a web search due to frantic searching of what is going on with the company you signed a contract with and can no longer get a hold of Carmel Mooney or anybody else and then you got an email stating you can call their attorney…start here and read this post along with the comments. Then come back here for the update. I’m sorry, friend, but you’re in for a big shock!). Since, I posted Fair Warning, it has become the number one viewed post on my blog and has generated over 230 comments to date from other families that all experienced the same issues as we did. Some of the comments read like a novel. You just can’t make this stuff up! As a result of other people looking for help, I’ve been in contact with nearly two dozen families, many of whom are seriously considering joining an existing lawsuit against PSDS. The new challenge is that PSDS has now begun the process of dissolving the organization and has more recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I’m still getting messages from parents who have come to this realization too late (didn’t we all?!) and just now figuring out that the money they paid (some are upwards of $14,500) will not be returned. Some are hoping for at least a partially trained dog as some sort of compensation….but believe me, you don’t want even a partially trained dog from PSDS. All I can do is point them to the attorney who has been helping the rest of us out. Without going into too much detail, here are the bullet points…

  • A lawsuit was filed in late May by a few other families. Nearly 20 more are considering joining that suit.
  • Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions is supposedly in the process of dissolving.
  • PSDS has filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (for the most part, this means they do not plan to exist anymore financially).
  • The list of client complaints is growing, and growing, and growing…..
  • In nearly every case, PSDS cannot provide financial data regarding their account, who gave what and for whom. Supposedly, their computer with the finances crashed. How convenient.
  • PSDS has taken down their website and most social media accounts. Not to worry….I have numerous screen shots that I’m keeping for archiving purposes.
  • Speaking of social media…a few weeks before PSDS shut down their Facebook page, Carmel posted a copyrighted photo of my daughter that she lifted from my blog (which I’m sure she monitors closely. Hi Carmel!!). It was taken by a third party photographer so I requested she take it down. She refused, citing I had signed in the contract that PSDS had the right to use photos of my child with the dog as a promotion for their company. This is true, but that contract doesn’t apply to photos who neither of us have the copyright to! Even after the owner of that copyright demanded she take it down, Carmel refused. So we sent FB a message stating copyright infringement for both FB and Instagram and they both removed the picture within hours. Checkmate.
  • Patty Basile, the CPA who handled their finances (and who also was never able to provide a copy of our financial account), has since resigned from PSDS. In a unique twist of events, she has provided a legal declaration giving detailed information of just what went on behind the scenes…including the purchase of $7,000 blinds for Carmel’s house and the recycling of dogs. I’m serious…you can’t make this up! When a dog didn’t work out with one family, they changed its name and sent it to another unsuspecting family!
  • I applaud Patty for finally seeing the light and I hope she continues to share information that might one day help all these families recover their money that is needed for real service dogs.
  • The California Attorney General has expressed a certain level of interest in this case. We’ll see where that leads…
  • If you want to file a complaint with the AG, you can do it here: http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/charities/charitable/ct9.pdf The more the merrier.
  • The IRS has been notified of the improper tax returns that PSDS filed. They filed the return designed for non-profits with less than $50,000 in total revenue. But the former PSDS website stated they had placed at least 47 service dogs. With an average cost of about $13,000 per dog and the company only being in existence for three years….the math is very easy. I guess lying is easy also. The IRS doesn’t comment on existing reviews of non-profits, but I suspect it would be fairly easy to prove some level of tax fraud.

In addition to all of this, the media has gotten hold of this story. There are several news outlets that have covered different angles of the Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions scam. So for the convenience of everybody searching for the latest news report, here are the ones that I know of. If you have seen others, please comment and leave me a link. I’ll update this post with each new link.

From FOX40 in Sacramento area… http://fox40.com/2014/08/04/family-says-service-dog-was-not-trained/

From ABC in Sacramento area… http://www.news10.net/story/news/local/sacramento/2014/08/04/special-needs-family-claims-they-were-given-an-untrained-service-dog/13562551/

From NBC Bay Area… http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Parents-Claim-Service-Dogs-Not-Properly-Trained-to-Help-Children-with-Autism-262630571.html

And here is the follow up story from NBC Bay Area several weeks later… http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/San-Jose-Family-Suing-Nonprofit-for-Allegedly–269762731.html

From Fresno CBS. (They spelled our name wrong….but I’ve been called worse things)… http://www.yourcentralvalley.com/story/d/story/eyewitness-news-investigates-service-dogs/28275/PO7WMV5Ry0WyqsjlZ3oi9g

From CBS in Los Angeles… http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/08/01/only-on-cbs2-boy-awaits-service-dog-that-will-be-a-life-changer-if-shes-ever-delivered/#.U9xAB9rv4Tk.email

From KTVU, in San Francisco and Los Angeles areas… http://www.ktvu.com/videos/news/newbury-park-sick-socal-boy-may-never-get-promised/vCmNj8/

From The Sacramento Bee… http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/02/6601334/families-sue-yuba-city-nonprofit.html

From The Service Dog Free Press… http://servicedogfp.blogspot.com/2014/08/carmel-mooney-pawsitive-service-dog.html?m=1

From The Thousand Oaks Acorn… http://www.toacorn.com/news/2014-08-14/Family/Sick_boy_suffers_setback_in_search_for_furry_compa.html

The saga continues……

Six Month Update on DOP!

Update on DOP for July 18, 2014

Well….it has been six months since DOP’s brain tumor surgery and five months since I have last posted about her. So many people prayed for her and for our family and we still frequently run in to old friends who ask how she is doing, so we figured it was time to update everyone.

Physical Therapy

DOP (Daughter of Purpose for those of you with short memories) is no longer doing any kind of physical or occupational therapy. She finished them a couple months ago and according to the doctors and physical therapists, she is within 95% to 100% of where she was before the surgery. We think she is also, except for the fact that she still walks slower and is a little more unstable than she was prior to surgery. But she will continue to get stronger just by living life and should eventually gain more stability.

On a side note, her doctors at Shriner’s hospital have changed her leg braces recently and that seems to help. In September, she is going back to Shriner’s again for a Gate Study…a real-time digital recreation of her actual and true gate…it’s the coolest technology ever! I’ll be sure to take and post lots of pictures.


Picking out new braces styles.

Picking out new braces styles.


A vast majority of the time, DOP no longer sees double-vision. If she is tired or straining to look in an odd direction, she gets double-vision…but don’t we all??

For the most part, her vision has cleared up substantially and this doesn’t ever seem to bother her anymore.

Kayaking with brother at Adaptive Sports.

Kayaking with brother at Adaptive Sports.

Bowling with Adaptive Sports.

Bowling with Adaptive Sports.


Three months ago, DOP had an MRI done and the doctor just said that it was “stable.”


What exactly does that mean? Well, it means nothing changed from the scan that was done right before she left the hospital three months prior. No change is okay…since it means the 1% of the residual tumor is not growing. As long as it doesn’t grow….we’ll leave it right there and not touch it.

“Hi, this is my daughter. She has 1% of a 3” tumor stuck in the middle of her brain.” It’s just weird.

Jump three months later…

We took her in for a six-month follow-up MRI today and had great results after a bit of a struggle to get into the MRI…

DOP does awesome in the MRI! She has never complained about the loud noises, cold room or claustrophobic environment. It’s pretty dang awesome for a 10 year old to lay still for 45 minutes, not moving with nothing to look at.

But that needle before the MRI………….

To do the particular MRI that she needs, they scan the brain using a chemical called contrast that helps the tumors and other parts “light up” in the scan. To put in the contrast, the nurses have to put in an IV needle. This, is where the awesomeness breaks down.

It. Freaks. Her. Out.

I’m not sure where this came from…perhaps it is because most of the eight IV lines she had while in the hospital were put in while she was asleep. She never had to endure really feeling them being put in. To make matters worse, she has thick skin (in a variety of ways!) and several nurses during all our experiences have had trouble getting the needles just right with DOP.

Three months ago, at the MRI, the nurse had to stick her three times. Today….six. The MRI technician tried one time and failed. She got another nurse who tried two more times in different locations. Fail. Fail. She got a third nurse who tried another location. Fail. In came an anesthesiologist. Seeing that DOP was not doing well emotionally by this point, she gave us a few options, but those all involved coming back another day. So I asked for her to try it herself. Fail.

Then…finally, she stuck it. Whoo!

DOP was happy again. Off to lay still in the cold dark MRI room…

I must give a world of thanks to our long-time friend Becca who works at the hospital and came up from the Child-Life Department and sat with DOP during the entire episode. She was a great help and comfort to DOP. You’re awesome!

After the MRI, we sat with the surgeon to get the results. This is what it looked like.

The right side is three months ago. The left side is today. Amazing!

The right side is three months ago. The left side is today. Amazing!

The photo on the right is three months ago. The photo on the left is today.

Inside the red circle on the right is two white spots on either side of the black ventricle. That is the residual tumor the surgeon left inside. The reason was because if she kept scraping that area, it would have done permanent damage.

The left circle has no white spots! Yeah!

The doctor was clear to say that this doesn’t necessarily mean the tumor is completely gone. There is the chance some is still there, hiding and maybe not picked up by this scan. As was always planned, DOP will still get a full MRI every 3 months for at least a year more.

However, this is looking REALLY GOOD!!

We are very excited and Praising The Lord!

MRI done, let's eat!

MRI done, let’s eat and praise the Lord!

Thank you everybody for your prayers and continued support for Daughter of Purpose. We’ll be sure to update you again if anything changes.

Blessings to all of you who have cared so much for our family.

Nathan and Brandy




The Nuclear Church

I’ve been thinking about this post for well over three years.

I remember when a pastor friend gave me the analogy. He and I were both having a difficult time working for the church we were in. I’ve never forgotten his comments and I’ve rewritten my thoughts down several times…rewriting each time. I guess I’ve come to the point to where I just have to say what I’ve been thinking and know that many people won’t like it and there is nothing I can do to change that. So here is what my friend shared with me that day:

The church is like a nuclear power plant.

When it is used correctly, it has unimaginable power. Some nuclear power plants can power entire cities. When the plant has been built rock-solid, when all the rods are in place, when the employees understand their jobs, when the system is working correctly…the energy created is mind-boggling. When operating at maximum efficiency, it can create an amazing force of power that is difficult to quantify. Many people may not even know where they are, but they can feel the impact it has on their life. When it is working the way it is supposed to, lives become dependent on it. It’s an amazing resource for the surrounding community. It’s quite impressive, really.


When it is used incorrectly, it also has unimaginable power. It can be incredibly destructive. It can level entire cities. Handled by inadequately trained people, nuclear power plants can kill people. They can tear families apart and destroy businesses. They can leave a wasteland that is difficult to clean up for many, many years. Many people may not ever know where the plant was, but they can feel the impact it made on their daily life. Just like when a power plant is used for its intended safe purpose, a poorly run nuclear power plant can be equally impressive, but in a completely different sense.

The local church is like a nuclear power plant.

When it is working the way it is intended, it can do far more good than any of us can imagine. When run poorly, it can do unimaginable damage that lasts for a long, long….long time.

Pastors (and any other church employee for that matter), are like the nuclear power plant employees. They’re responsible for the daily operations, the inner workings, the production of energy and movement…its intended purpose. Like any organization, power plants have different levels of employees. They have a CEO or plant manager, a board of directors, various engineers, administrative assistants, custodians, maintenance personnel and possible other variants of employees. And many churches have the same.

The Flashing Light

Life happens. People come and go and many eventually leave employment for somewhere else. They might leave for any number of reasons. Sometimes they simply got a better offer of more money or want to try something new. It happens. I’ve been there. This is not about those times. It is about when something goes wrong…horribly wrong.

What if a little red light in the nuclear power plant starts flashing and some young engineer sees it? He tells his boss, “The red light is flashing! Something is wrong! We gotta get this fixed or we might have a nuclear meltdown!” Many would applaud his young man’s astuteness and ability to speak up and notify the authorities of impending destruction.

But instead, his immediate boss says to be quiet. “Let it be. It’ll handle itself. You’re too young to know that everything is just fine and you’re being too touchy.”

The engineer goes back to his desk…but the little red light keeps blinking.

Weeks go by and it is still blinking and nobody says anything.

Then months. Maybe even a year or two! Nobody is talking about the blinking red warning light.

Over time, the engineer starts to notice there is not just one red light blinking, but several.

He has gone to his supervisor several times…even to his bosses boss, breaking the chain of command rules…and each time told everything was fine and being handled by upper management.

“Keep it to yourself, or you’ll be fired.”

He loves his job, but can’t stand that nobody is listening to him. Eventually he decides to move on, get another engineering job somewhere else, hoping to move his family to a safe environment that understands the purpose and impact that a well-run nuclear power plant can have on a community.

In the process of notifying his employer that he is leaving, he is told by both his supervisors and fellow employees to keep all this “nonsense” about the blinking red lights to himself. He shouldn’t rock the boat. He needs to leave quietly, making sure his new employer knows he is trustworthy and not a snitch or hot-head or gossip. He is convinced that not telling anyone about the red light is the right thing to do because it will no longer be his concern or responsibility.

Regardless of whether the engineer receives a parting celebratory party or not, he leaves “quietly” for his new employment…always wondering about the little red flashing light…..

The Pastoral Challenge

For pastors, there is a balance….a struggle…an opportunity…to merge both calling and employment. It is both a great benefit and burden. It is a benefit because pastors are privileged with the opportunity to make an eternal impact in the lives of people. It is a burden because the rest of the congregation fails to understand the struggle that accompanies the challenges of pastoral work.

When considering the “job” aspects of the pastorate, I think the previous generation of church leadership has been telling the “outgoing pastors” how to handle their departure all wrong. By this I mean, when a pastor is leaving the church for other employment (whether that be for another church or anything else), the general consensus has been to leave peacefully without being critical of the church you are leaving.

“Just leave quietly.”

“Don’t rock the boat.”

“Keep your thoughts to yourself and don’t make anyone mad.”

“You need to make sure you keep all your frustrations quiet, move on to the new job, and let the chips fall where they may.”

“If you are leaving, no one will believe you anyway!”

“Play it safe and keep everything calm.”

Despicableme2 Firefighter animated GIF

There has been articles about this very topic. Blog posts. Even denominational memos passed around that encourage church staff to “leave quietly” so that there is no disruption and no disunity in the church. I get it. The premise behind this is to keep from being disruptive, to prevent gossip and to “love one another.”

Frankly, I find this to be bad advice and unbiblical. Here is why:

Nuclear Meltdown

When the nuclear power plant finally has a meltdown, people will be angry. Astonished. Worried. Frustrated. Confused. There will certainly be a lot of finger-pointing.

How could such a thing happen?! Did nobody observe something was wrong?!

Did anybody notice the warning signals?

How come the staff who were there every day never said there was a problem on the inside?

Were there any warning lights?

Sadly, there were warning lights…but the people who noticed them were convinced they needed to leave quietly. In their attempt at not disrupting the organization, in their attempt at being nice in their departure, in their attempt at not being bold for what they knew was right, they contributed to a nuclear disaster.

Because of their omission that the red light was flashing, they participated in what would eventually lead to a widespread devastation of people’s lives.

Church Meltdown

The local church is like a nuclear power plant. It has all the same potential.

Why do we encourage church staff to leave without informing the upper leadership of the issues they know to be problematic? The same goes for members of the congregation. So many leave a church they are unhappy with, and never tell the pastor (or elder board members) why. They just “up and go” without any explanation. I’m at a loss for why so many people think we cannot call out bad leadership within the church. Jesus called out the Pharisees several times, and he wasn’t really very nice about it.

As Christians, we are implored, no…REQUIRED to follow Matthew 18:15-18 when someone has sinned against us. This can certainly be applied to the work and church environment when we feel a dangerous issue has been created by those in leadership. In short, we should approach the person in question first. If that doesn’t work, then bring along another who can validate your concerns. If that still does not change the situation, then make it public!

I am not suggesting we post our grievances on social media for all the world to see. It’s just not helpful and it can lead to additional uncontrollable chaos. I am not suggesting we bully the powers-that-be. I am not suggesting we make sure every single person in the church knows the issues. I am not suggesting we keep rehashing the same issues over and over again in an attempt at forcing the change desired. But failing to notify the top level of leadership (whether it be a pastor or elder board) is equally not helpful. If you are uncomfortable meeting in person, then write a letter or email. If the top level of the church is a board or group of directors, include all of them in the letter in order to make sure they all get the same information.

Have the guts to tell the correct people the issues you see that are bothering you and give them the opportunity to respond. If you still disagree or you cannot come to an acceptable resolution, then move on, tell them why and leave it at that. By not informing them of the problem, you are contributing to the diminishing of something much greater…the family of God, the Bridge of Christ! People cannot make the necessary changes if they do not know what changes are needed.

In my experience of talking with many people who have left a church, I find a vast majority feel that sending a letter would make no difference because they are just one person or family. And generally this thinking is correct. When one person protests about their boss, the employee is generally perceived as being the issue. “They’re just unhappy with whatever the supervisor is doing.”

When two people leave and send similar letters, “Huh. That’s weird. What are the chances?”

When a dozen (or many more) leave and all share the same experiences, “Hey! A red light is blinking!”

“Warning! Warning!”

Instead, we leave without informing anyone of impending catastrophe and wait for the church to slowly implode because nobody is warning the people at the top about the red blinking light.

A Personal Experience

I can’t find a single reference of Jesus knowing there was a problem with one of his disciples or the religious leaders of his day and not addressing it. In fact, he addressed their issues head on and very publicly! I get that none of us are Jesus and the circumstances and context of today are very different. But we are to emulate Jesus as best we can given the context with which we live. Why are we afraid to acknowledge and discuss, even privately, the issues we see within the church?

Again, I am not condoning a divisive spirit. I am condoning that people who are leaving the church tell the upper-most leadership why they have chosen to leave.

Admittedly, I myself have fallen prey to this kind of thinking. A couple years ago, I left employment with a church and attempted to leave as quietly as I could. A few of my closest friends understood the issues that I faced, but I worked hard to “keep the spirit” and unity of the staff and church. For a long time, I watched from afar as the issues I faced with my superiors continued to drive deeper into the rest of the staff and church and went unchecked (and mostly unknown) by the elder board.

As a result of my failure to truly explain what I saw and what I had experienced, several other people ultimately faced the same fate. Many families left. There were a lot more hurt feelings. More destruction occurred. I often wonder…If I had shared with the highest level of leadership what I knew to be going on in the staff, could the problems have been dealt with much sooner? Could other people’s horrible experiences been minimized if I had spoken up and told the powers-that-be what was really going on? Honestly, there is a bit of guilt that creeps up every once and a while about whether I made the right decisions about being quiet and leaving without telling anyone about the red flashing light.

But…it is now in the past and there is nothing I can do to change my past actions. However, I fear too many others are in the position I have found myself in.

After all this…if you plan to leave or have recently left your church (whether employed there or are a member), tell the highest level of authority why you are leaving. Give them the opportunity to know how decisions they or their staff made have shaped your decision to leave. Without your input, none of us can get better. None of us can fix our mistakes. None of us can grow the Kingdom more.

In the meantime, the red light is blinking….

Flashing light graphics


Fair Warning About Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions

UPDATE: Due to some confusion regarding the abilities of Hazel the dog, please see the update below for clarification.

My wife and I hired Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions (located in Yuba City area in northern California) in the hopes of getting an autism service dog for our daughter. If I could do it over, I would NEVER hire them and certainly do NOT recommend them to anyone looking for a service dog. If you are researching and considering hiring Pawsitive, please read on and consider this a warning.

After signing the contract and waiting an agonizing year, we were given Hazel, a beautiful chocolate lab to help keep our daughter safe and close to our home. For the most part, Hazel is a good service dog. (Update regarding Hazel’s abilities at the end of this post).  She has certain quirks and is still mastering certain techniques that we think should have been mastered before she came to our family, but with constant additional training we have been giving her, she is progressing well. The trainer who had Hazel last suspected that she was a bit young and still had a lot of energy and didn’t seem to have been socialized well. We were desperate to get Hazel into our family to help lower our stress levels and keep our daughter safe, so we agreed to take her just a tad earlier than what the trainer normally recommended. As such, she needs some additional socialization and a little extra work. We’ve come to accept this challenge and really do not have much issue here.

The service dog is not the problem with Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions.

The problem is the people who run and work for Pawsitive.

Always eager to serve!

Always eager to serve!

As a business owner, I understand the nature of working with clients, handling finances, and dealing with difficult circumstances. I also understand that the most important aspect of client-relations is communication….none of which Pawsitive seems to understand.

For a non-profit organization, I have never experienced such horrible client-relations as I have with Pawsitive. We paid a lot of money and many of our friends donated money on our behalf to an organization we had no previous relationship with (as would happen with a vast majority of their new clients). As a result, I kept good records of every communication we had with them to the detail of date and times we talked or texted and emailed. I could spell out each and every detail, but to prevent this post from being too long, I’ll only provide the main points.

I really tend to not speak negatively about other people or businesses online, but during the course of dealing with Pawsitive, I realized there were probably a lot more people like me in this position. The way the contract is written, they hold all the cards. It would be difficult to try and force their hand in any particular situation because then, all of a sudden, the dog may be “delayed more.” I’m not convinced this happened in our case, but the thought certainly crossed my mind. Given their inability to effectively communicate and tell the truth, I wouldn’t put it past them.

These are not in any particular order, but they’re all important.

Donor and Accounting Records

The biggest issue (and very important in my opinion), is that Pawsitive cannot provide you with any sort of legitimate status of your financial account. We paid money, friends and family donated money, and businesses donated money all on our behalf. “How much have we raised to date?” I would ask on several occasions. In the rare instance I got an email or phone call back, I merely got a total number. Although we were constantly promised that we would get a full accounting of who gave what on our behalf, we have NEVER received a full list. On two occasions, Patty (who handles development and finances) called and gave us a couple figures over the phone with names and promised to “send a written copy tomorrow when I get to the office.” The most recent response I got was an email with a few names attached to a few dollar amounts. The problem was that several dollar amounts had no names on them and several names were missing….namely my in-laws’ donation and the donation from MY OWN COMPANY.

Now here is the thing….Patty is a CPA during the day and works with Pawsitive in the off-hours. So a CPA is handling all the finances and donations and is completely unable to provide any sort of financial record to a client? Wow.

If any of my clients wish to have a record of their purchases/payments with my company, click, click, click, I email the information and we discuss any discrepancies. Apparently, for Pawsitive, this is incredibly difficult.

So here is the question regarding their financial dealings…. What are you hiding? Why can you not provide me with a detailed list of who gave what on my behalf and provide a total? Why do you not send out donation tax-receipts at the beginning of the year to anyone who donates to Pawsitive? I understand it is not a requirement by law, but a vast majority of non-profits do as a courtesy to their donors.

After numerous attempts at getting this information from Pawsitive, I must come to the conclusion that; 1) they simply do not care, and 2) they are incapable of handling their donors needs and finances well.

Little E and Hazel. So cute!

Little E and Hazel. Photo by Sweet Nectar Society. All rights reserved.


As would be standard and appropriate, service dogs should be immunized in the same way other dogs are. The problem here, is that Pawsitive cannot provide proof that Hazel has had them. During our handler training, the trainer gave us a single sheet that supposedly had a record of Hazel’s immunizations. After a closer look more recently, we discovered this was not actually a list of immunizations. After calling the veterinarian that was listed on the receipt, we did get confirmation that Hazel got a standard set of immunizations several months after being born. Specifically, the rabies shot that was given was set to last one year. Nothing since. Hazel is almost two now.

In an attempt to give Pawsitive the benefit of the doubt (I’m not sure why), we asked if they had a record of her immunizations…perhaps they used a different vet that we do not know of. We had to ask several times and, finally, we received a handwritten record of dates and immunizations that were supposedly given. However, there is no listing of rabies vaccination except for the one listed above.

So as far as we can tell, Pawsitive gave us a service dog that has not had its full standard set of rabies immunizations that are required by California law. This leads us to question the validity of the other immunizations as well.

This begs the question….what else did they not do for the dog that we are unaware of??


Have you noticed yet how awesome their communication is with clients? Yeah, awesomely horrible. When we were still researching and considering all our options for a service dog company, Carmel (the director) was very communicative and friendly and answered all of our questions. After we sent in the signed contract, we’ve only spoken with her a handful of times and most of our voice mails and emails got ignored.

Our contract stated that the placement of a dog would take 9-12 months. Ours took just under 12 months, so I really have no issue with the wait time. However, over the course of these 12 months, we were lied to as to the status of Hazel repeatedly. But this was only during the times we could actually get in contact with either Patty and or Carmel.

On several occasions, Patty told us that Hazel was just a few weeks away from being placed. These comments started around September of 2013 and continued for several months. Then…all communication stopped. In late January, I sent several emails to Patty with no response. I left a voice mail a few days later. No response. Several days later, I sent an email to Carmel in hopes she would follow up with Patty. To my surprise, she did and said Patty had never received a voice mail. Lucky for me…my iPhone says I called on Wednesday, February 5th at 7:41 pm and spoke for 1 minute. Like I said…I have detailed records.

Here’s the thing….my wife and I have been through two international adoptions. I understand waiting. I understand that sometimes things happen that create unintentional delays. I really do! But instead of lying in an attempt at keeping the client happy, just tell the truth and say you’re working on it. With both of our adoptions, certain circumstances beyond the control of our agency created unexpected delays that we didn’t like. But our agency was forthright and honest about what was going on. I think most people would appreciate knowing there is going to be a delay because of XYZ, rather than being told repeatedly that everything is okay and starting to notice on their own that things are really not okay.

It makes the client question whether the company is being honest in how it handles its business.

I have several other specific examples, but here is one more. At one point, we were told Hazel was being transferred to another trainer to “finalize her training.” After a bit of investigative digging, I came to find out this was not the case at all. Rather, Hazel had not even started advanced training and was now being moved in order to begin advanced training. This was after being told a few times Hazel was “almost ready for placement.”

On several occasions, we were told by Carmel that “I don’t have access to that information. I’ll have Patty send it to you”….which of course, never happened. As a business owner, I fully understand how delegation works. But when the same client keeps asking for the same information over and over and over again…something is clearly wrong with your system….or your people….or in this case, both.

Her standard position while waiting...so proper!

Her standard position while waiting…so proper!

Is Pawsitive a Well Run Non-Profit?

Not at all. If you put just these few examples together, this is what you get….

No standard report of the money you or your family/friends have donated on your behalf, substandard immunizations, constant inaccurate updates, and an extreme lack of communication.

We’ve tried to be patient. We really have. We’ve given Patty and Carmel (and other employees there) every opportunity to make these issues right, to respond with updates, to provide the simple information we request. But they simply are unable or unwilling to engage in any sort of quality client relations. We simply cannot allow such a horribly run organization to continue without feeling obligated to warn other potential clients.

Do all of their clients experience such lack of accountability and communication? I really have no idea. I hope not. I have been in communication with a couple other previous clients who experienced the same issues, so I do know it’s not just us.

But now that we have Hazel, all the cards are now in our hands and we feel obligated to warn others of their incompetence. We mean no ill-will toward anyone at Pawsitive. We’re not out to get Patty or Carmel or anyone else who works there. But we feel compelled to warn others of how they operate the company and deal with clients.

I cannot and will not recommend Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions to anyone. The dog is fine, the people there are not.

Perhaps when I have time, I can write in more detail about some of the other issues we had with Pawsitive…like how we were told we got to provide our own code word for Hazel, but then found out that wasn’t what the trainer was told to use….or the time we were told Hazel would be ready for placement “just after Thanksgiving”, but that was not the case. With our own digging, we found out that she had just barely been sent off to be spayed…pretty sure that’s not part of the placement, instead something that is done way ahead of placement.

We have lots of stories to share!

Have you experienced issues with Pawsitive? If so, please let me know and leave a comment.


Here is some clarification on the abilities of Hazel. There seemed to be some misunderstandings about just how good Hazel is as a service dog and rather than rewriting my whole post, I’m just adding in this bit of information to clarify a few things.

We did NOT get what we paid for. At the total cost of over $14,000, Hazel did not show up for placement as a fully trained autism service dog. She pulled on the leash continually, only found my daughter during scent tracking 50% of the time, and failed to have any sense of understanding where my daughter was and whether she needed any sort of help at all. In addition, she had not even begun any sort of training to notify us if my daughter began climbing the fence. Hazel does not possess any sort of innate ability to care for my daughter or keep her safe.

So why did I post above that the dog is fine? Because WE made her that way!

My wife and I decided that WE would have to train her since Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions did not complete the job. Rather than continue to complain to Pawsitive and be frustrated with the fact they rarely return phone calls, emails and texts, we simply decided to take matters into our own hands. Clearly, we proved to be more competent than they were.

After spending hundreds of our own dollars on additional training, after spending countless hours of our own time completing (and in some cases BEGINNING) training for Hazel, she has started to act like a real service dog.

So is Hazel a decent service dog? She is certainly getting there.

Is it because Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions trained here well? Absolutely not.

Did we get what we paid for? Definitely not.



30 Days and Other Random Facts

Update on Daughter of Purpose for February 18, 2014

Daughter of Purpose and I stayed in the hospital for 30 days. Yep…a whole month for a brain surgery and initial recovery.

In some respects it felt like forever.

Time frequently stood still as Brandy and I grappled with understanding the medical situation of our daughter. Nurses and doctors came in continuously. They used big words. Just when we thought we understood what was going on, there would be a nurse shift change and new doctors and nurses would come in. They would use different big words. Medicines changed constantly. Then they would stop the meds. On some occasions, time would just stop and stand still. Days turned into more days and those turned into more days. I started losing track of what day it was in the hospital because every day seemed the same. It was like walking next to a train track while a high speed train roars by. You might be moving forward, but it pales in comparison to the train. You can try and see what is happening on the train, but it is completely useless. It just moves too fast.

In other respects, time just flew by.

Although I lost all sense of time while we were in the hospital, as I look back, it was just….done. On several occasions Monday jumped to Friday. 3am skipped to noon. I wondered where the time went and if I missed something. The doctor said the next MRI would be in two days…and then in twenty minutes we were pushing DOP down the hall for the MRI. To use the same analogy, if you’re standing on the high speed train and are trying to look out the window at the passing scenery you can see off into the distance, but you can’t possibly tell what is close by. It’s all just a blur.

I learned there is no real time in hospitals. The doctors don’t follow any logical time pattern. Friends and family never show up when they say they’re going to. The time difference between when you fall asleep and are awoken by the nurse to check DOP’s blood pressure is about 32 seconds. The cafeteria, which is “just down the hall and around the corner” takes 8 minutes and 37 seconds to walk to. A 4 hour brain surgery actually takes 6 hours and 10 minutes. And a 45 minute MRI lasts 30 days….

Brandy says I should be used to it all because my previous traveling days seemed to run about the same way. Perhaps. But the difference is…my daughter’s life was at stake.

And I would do it again….

DOP has been home for just over a week now. She is doing really, really well. When we run into friends or see our neighbors, everyone asks how she is doing. We definitely have felt the love from everyone. So I figured I would give a post-hospital update for all those who wanted to know.

The incision point is healing very nicely.

The incision point is healing very nicely. By the time her hair grows back, only about an inch will be below the hairline. If she keeps her hair at a decent length, nobody will even be able to notice.

DOP came home with a walker, a wheel chair and a shower seat. She only uses the wheel chair when we need to walk long distances, like in a store or to an appointment in the hospital. She also uses it in high-traffic areas, like at church. Yes, she has been to church twice since being home…her friends missed her lots!

Having fun baking with mom.

Having fun baking with mom. Definitely, her wild personality is still there!

She can walk around the house on her own now, although she is still very slow. The last few days she has put the walker aside and just used counters or walls for stability. She can walk up and down the stairs also! Woot! No more carrying her!

For her daily therapy, she works on her arms with a pull strap and plays with a hard putty to work her fingers. She still uses the walker for her exercises and is capable of getting all the way to the mailbox and back….that’s about 600 feet total. She has built up a bit more confidence, although it still wanes after a while. She will have PT and OT therapy for 6 to 12 weeks at least. But she is doing well.

Occupational Therapy.

Occupational Therapy.

Her eyes are still seeing double. She says they’re getting better, but we’re not really sure. She wears a patch during the day and switches it back and forth. We have a follow up appointment with the surgeon next week and we’re hopeful she can talk to us more about this. Please keep praying for her eyes to get better.

The talking is back…yep {sarcasm}. Sigh. I failed to enjoy the silence while we had it……

Thank you everyone for your continued prayers and support for DOP and our family. You all are the best!

A sock fell. She had to figure out how to get it herself.

A sock fell. She had to figure out how to get it herself.

Here is some other interesting data and facts about the hospital stay. Well, I think it’s interesting.

All of this took place during the 30 days in the hospital…

A PICU doctor once prescribed the wrong medicine. It was really early in the morning and even in my sleepy state I could recognize that something in the medicine’s name didn’t seem correct. I immediately asked about it…turns out, it was the wrong med! Parents, pay attention to the meds when in the hospital. If you don’t know what it is….ask! On another occasion the nurse gave DOP the wrong dosing of medicine. I didn’t catch it until it was too late, but no harm was done. Generally speaking though, she had FANTASTIC nurses and doctors.

DOP got thirteen visits from Northpointe Church staff, none less than an hour long. Honestly, we were completely blown away by their love and support and care. This church knows how to care for their sick kids (and parents)!

62 Starbucks drinks were purchased. I know the name and face of four of the Starbucks employees who work at the hospital location. After two weeks of ordering the same tea at night, the baristas knew my order…so I had to change it up to make myself feel better.

2 of the night guards know me by name and face.

I ate 26 grilled cheese sandwiches with fries or tator-tots.

DOP had 6 MRI scans.

13 days in PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit).

3 days in a recovery room.

14 days in the rehab center.

The operating room is billed by half hour increments.

1 unit of blood was given during surgery.

296 medications given.

314 general and hematology labs performed.

9 chest x-rays taken.

1 page…the total length of the form giving permission to perform brain surgery. One. Single. Page. (Car salesmen could learn something from hospitals)

28 pages….the detailed billing for just the first 20 days in the hospital.

I wrote 9 papers and read 3 and a half books for my university classes. Don’t ask me what they’re about…I have no idea.

DOP took 23 visual, verbal and motor skill tests over two days for a Neuropsych Evaluation.

87 bazillion….the number of texts and private messages Brandy and I received and sent.

3” by 2.5”….the size of the tumor.

4”…the length of the incision on the back of DOP’s neck.

54 meals were brought to Brandy and the kids at home or to me at the hospital.

Our best friends, Randy and Monica, spent countless hours at our house watching our other kids, making meals, and making sure our kids did their school work and chores. One of our babysitters, Sam, also spent a significant amount of time helping too.

Our other kids went through 50 boxes of Kleenex and 10 bottles of Musinex because they were all sick during the same time…for almost as long.

1 visit to urgent care for Brandy.

2 feverish kids.

7 people swooped in to help our family within a half hour of us posting on FB about our daughter’s condition.

56 nightly visits from Little E (in to see Brandy) because DOP was “not in bed.”

I took 23 showers (don’t do the length-of-stay comparison here….)

3 kids started public school for the first time (on surgery day)

7 hours…the exact amount of sleep I got during the whole month. Total.

All this for one Daughter of Purpose. Our family is exhausted, but we are on the recovery now, thanks to living low while at home and all the support we received from everyone.

Nathan and Brandy