Meet Our Newest Search Dog Recruit: Paul!


Paul, a smart, energetic Malinois mix, comes to us as a stray from the Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina, thanks to SDF Recruiter Charlie Freeman.

When Paul, originally named Carlos,  got off the plane at the airport, he acted as if he and our SDF Canine Care Specialist Jami had known one another for a long time —jumping, playing and having a great time! He always seems to be smiling.

During the Petco Foundation Helping Heroes Awards Gala in June, SDF Founder Wilma Melville spoke about the longtime SDF-Petco partnership that began with former Executive Director Paul Jolly, who sadly lost his battle with ALS in 2014. She then presented Petco Foundation Executive Director Susanne Kogut with a very special gift from SDF – the naming of current Search Dog candidate “Paul,” in honor of Paul Jolly.

From the moment he entered our program, Paul started learning how to bark for the toy, which will be his reward for the duration of his career as a Search Dog. He is super smart, motivated, and crazy about the toy, making his progress in training both easy and fun. Our trainers share that he has something to say about everything, vocalizing (a.k.a. barking) quite a bit to show his enthusiasm and learned quickly how to be a Search Dog.

Paul is excelling in most of his disciplines here at our National Training Center. Mentally, Paul is a “young dog,” according to trainer Mandy Tisdale, who says he is always excited, ready to go, and happy to bark! He also loves playing games and socializing with people and other pups, so he needs plenty of time in training to learn slowly with many repetitions of each skill to reinforce what he learns.

Although he has a ton of drive and heart, he has some difficulty negotiating the more difficult areas of our rubble pile and is displaying some displacement in his searches. Trainers are slowing him down, revisiting the parts of training that have been successes for him and transitioning him to new disciplines more gradually. Trainers are also doing ladder work and cavalettis to build up his confidence and find success in the areas he has mastered.

We are also implementing celebrations for his success when he finds his “victim” to build loyalty—the reward reinforces that he did something great! Ain’t no party like a Paulie Party!

Trainers continue to see tremendous Search Dog potential in him, but are being patient and methodical to teach him at his own pace. He enjoys Direction and Control tremendously and he is a rockstar in the new canine gym—acing every challenge thrown his way. His success is helpful for his strength and confidence as he learns to overcome the challenges of training on our rubble pile.

Keep an eye out for Paul on social media candidate updates, and keep your paws crossed for Paul’s continued success as he goes on to pair with a handler next year!

Read more about the debut of Paul’s new name at the Petco Foundation Helping Heroes Award Ceremony.