Shawn is a lifelong teacher, coach, and trainer with a passion for dogs and service to others.
When Shawn adopted a sweet and sensitive Labrador retriever from a breed rescue organization, he was excited to homeschool her to receive certification to become a therapy dog/handler team. They enjoyed making visits to assisted living facilities and attending programs for school children. Shawn also volunteered at a local animal shelter, where he provided dog care and adoption support. These experiences launched Shawn on a path focused on the different ways that the partnership between dogs and people could help with healing, as well as bring people together.
Shawn discovered his passion for training assistance dogs when he became a puppy raiser for an Assistance Dog International (ADI) member-organization. He loved the process of preparing puppies to be service dogs through comprehensive socialization and training, participating in a community devoted to a shared mission of preparing and placing assistance dogs, and serving in public as an educator and ambassador for what service dogs can do. Recognizing that each puppy raiser or foster home serves an important role, Shawn felt that he could do more than focus on “just one” pup at a time. This need seemed all the more pressing given how long the wait-lists can be for people seeking to receive dogs from non-profit organizations and how few resources exist for owners interested in training their own dogs for assistance work.
Shawn was inspired to devote his time and energy to increasing the number of teams comprised of well-trained assistance dogs and people with disabilities benefiting from the partnership. A former law clerk and legal scholar, Shawn voluntarily relinquished a tenured professorship at a law college to become a full-time professional service dog trainer. In addition to his work with PAWS Training Centers, Shawn volunteers as a puppy raiser, foster home, and trainer with a Washington-state ADI based member-organization.