Since 2014


Our History

Pawsitive Friendships was founded by Tosha Tharp in 2014. When her son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of four, she quickly realized that no diagnosis was “one size fits all” and that each child should be considered and treated on an individual basis.

The idea for Pawsitive Friendships occurred to her while she and her son were practicing their regular home exercises. He was VERY non-compliant because the exercises were difficult and because he was unable to communicate his feelings. When he asked to have Zoe, their French Bulldog, join him on the swing, Tosha was stunned. Both boy and dog loved every minute of it!

From then on, Tosha incorporated Zoe into other exercises, and soon his compliance ceased to be an issue. Rather than focusing on what he couldn’t do, he was focusing, instead, on Zoe. This prompted Tosha to train Zoe as a therapy dog, ultimately culminating in their becoming a Registered Pet Therapy Team through Pet Partners.

By combining her determination to help her son succeed with her love of dogs, Tosha formed Pawsitive Friendships. “If my child can smile, enjoy therapy and build his confidence at the same time,” she reasoned, “there must be others who would love to be given that same opportunity.”

Tosha’s passion is her goal: to positively effect change in the lives of children like her son through the unconditional, non-judgmental love of dogs, together with the compassion of parents willing to “look outside the box”.

What Drives Us

Our Mission

Our Mission

We help children with special needs who are not engaging, complying, or progressing in their therapy by providing Animal Assisted Therapy, thereby supporting and encouraging the kids through the unconditional love of an animal-human friendship.

We believe that working hand-in-hand with the children’s therapists, aids, and teachers in schools and clinics, our animals can encourage the children to achieve their therapy goals.

Our Vision

To strengthen the skillsets of children with special needs, giving them the confidence they need to achieve their personal goals. To help them develop both physically and socially, and to improve in the areas of emotional self-regulation and motivation.


Board of Directors

Tosha Tharp-Gaitanis


George Rambow

CRPS, Board Member

Rickey Woolfolk

MBA, MEd, Board Member

Shanna Baglio

BS, SLPA, Board Secretary

Treva Griffin

Board Member 

Steve Olson


Our Volunteers

Treva Griffin

Volunteer Training Coordinator

Bryan Gaitanis

Community Relations

Nomi Berger

Content Editor

Dawn Emery

Graphic Designer

Leila Hoy

Graphic Designer

Hailey Scott

Program Coordinator