Training Paws With A Cause dogs keeps Bella Long intrigued


Bella Long (right) next to her mom (left) standing next to Jeter, their Paws With A Cause dog.

For as long as she could remember, junior Bella Long has always wanted a dog. She could not coerce her mom into buying one, so they made a compromise that Bella doesn’t regret three years later. 

“When my sister went off to college,” Bella said, “I was trying to talk my mom into [adopting a dog], and she was trying to talk me into [training one] because she didn’t want to take care of a dog when I went to college. I eventually gave in and agreed to it.”

Bella now trains Paws With A Cause dogs alongside her mom. She began training Paws dogs in her freshman year of high school. She is currently training a dog named Jeter, who is a black lab.

Paws With A Cause is a charity that helps provide service animals to those in need of a helping hand. There are hearing dogs for those who have hearing problems, seizure response dogs that help people with epilepsy and other seizure disorders, dogs for children with Autism, and service dogs for those with a physical or mental disability along with chronic illness.

[But] knowing that they are going to go on and do great things for someone else is a really good feeling.

— Bella Long

Paws gives qualified people a dog to train with a strict set of rules for them such as no laying on the couch, no sleeping in beds, and only in a kennel. When people first get a Paws dog, they have to go to weekly classes at Paws headquarters in Wayland, Michigan, to learn how to properly train the dog. After a certain amount of time, the dogs move up levels, and from there, the meetings become less frequent. The dogs are anywhere from 8-12 weeks old at the beginning of training. The class takes about a year to complete so the dogs will be grown up by the time they finish. 

“When we do those puppy classes,” Bella said, “a lot of it is more to train [us] and how to train the dog. We take what we learn in those training sessions and train [our dog each day].”   

Bella had two other Paws dogs, both of them being black labs. Jeter is Bella’s third Paws Dog and she has to say goodbye to her on February 8, 2021. 

“It is really hard to give [the dogs] up,” Bella said. “[But] knowing that they are going to go on and do great things for someone else is a really good feeling.”

Having a dog is something Bella always wanted, but being the youngest in the family, that meant her mom would have to take care of the dog while she was away at college. Bella’s mom is super invested in the charity and had heard about adopting a Paws dog from a friend. Their compromise, in the end, was to adopt and train Paws dogs. 

Her mom keeps Bella sticking with the program by helping her train Jeter—she also helped Bella train her previous Paws dogs. But at the beginning of her journey, her motivation was simply because she wanted a furry friend.

‘Are you ready to get a dog?’ I remember being so happy in that moment and ready to have a best friend.

— Bella Long

“[When having] a companion [that] is trained really well, you can take them a lot of places like restaurants,” Bella said. “They’ll let you have [the dog] be in there and it isn’t the same as having [one] to hang out with because they have to be under the table the whole time. But it is really [cool] to bring them everywhere with me. 

Bella says that having a Paws companion has made her “less selfless” because it forces her to give up something that is so dear to her for the greater good. 

“The first day that I found out we got the call that they had a dog ready for us, my mom pulled me out of sixth hour,” Bella said. “I came down to the office and I was like ‘What’s wrong?’ and she goes ‘Are you ready to get a dog?’ I remember being so happy in that moment and ready to have a best friend.”