All Invited to Mobility Dog as it Celebrates its Sixth Birthday

By Mikaela STONE


Mobility Dog (, a nonprofit organization that raises and trains service dogs, celebrates its sixth birthday with an Open House and Party on Saturday, March 2 from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm at 75 S. Grand Ave. in Pasadena. Entirely volunteer-run, so every cent goes to dog training, Mobility Dog has come a long way from a coat closet in the house of Executive Director Janie Lynn Heinrich. Heinrich grew up with a standard poodle named Bon Bon. At the age of 50, her family gifted her Phoebe, a poodle who would go on to train as a service dog after Heinrich suffered a spinal injury. When Phoebe retired, Heinrich was told she was too old for another service dog.

But that wasn’t the case as Heinrech and her service poodle Beckett have fostered a welcoming community of dogs, handlers and volunteers over the years. While Heinrich loves all service dogs, her poodle nostalgia and the breed’s hypoallergenic hair make standard poodles Mobility Dog’s top pick. Prospective puppies play with their littermates on a variety of surfaces from wood to carpet to concrete before slowly being introduced to elements such as sirens and blowing leaves … and plenty of people. By introducing these in a “safe, secure, loving environment” puppies learn that there is nothing to fear. Throughout the process they still get to play and be dogs, as Heinrich believes “It’s the canine spirit that makes service dogs so amazing.”

Because of service dogs, students have the ability to attend college as “everyone deserves to live their lives and their dreams regardless of what their medical condition is.” The nonprofit hopes to expand by creating a center of health and wellness next to the blue or gold line in Pasadena.

Mobility Dog needs volunteers to be greeters, send emails, wrangle Google workspace and be puppy raisers (who will be equipped and trained). Heinrich hopes to see plenty of people at the birthday open house enjoying a cupcake and learning about how to join the fight to grant independence and destigmatize disabilities.

She adds, “Words, attitudes and actions toward people with disability affects people’s lives much more than their disability.” Heinrich wants a world where disabled people are treated the same as their able-bodied peers.