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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

C-P.A.W.W. Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors

Health Research Initiative for Veterans

​Welcome to C-P.A.W.W., Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors: a Health Research Initiative for Veterans in the College of Nursing, University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus. The C-P.A.W.W. initiative was established in October 2013 to advance the health and well-being of members of the armed forces. At C-P.A.W.W., we are committed to the evolution of nursing knowledge within the context of research, education and practice in order to better assist the military population. We invite you to explore our site, which is aimed at advancing the standards of care for our military veterans in our region and beyond. 


The mission of C-P.A.W.W. is to advance interdisciplinary research, education and practice protocols for wounded warriors and veterans through the development of evidence-based and restorative interventions, to support military-related health initiatives by building community partnerships, to investigate therapeutic interventions that positively influence health outcomes and to emphasize system planning and protocols of care development for the armed forces.


C-P.A.W.W. joins with community partners who provide support for our military, advance evidence-based practice protocols in military-related clinical settings and promote the delivery of culturally-congruent and competent care for the military members.

​Military-Focused AAI Research

Veterans and Service Dogs: An in Depth Exploration on Restoring Independence

The C-P.A.W.W. team is currently recruiting subjects for a research project. If you are a military veteran, between the ages of 18-89, and own a service dog, please contact us about participating in our study. For more information:Participation Flyer.pdfParticipation Flyer.pdf

Stakeholder-driven Veteran's Suicide Protection Advisory Group

Exciting news! PCORI has approved funding for our project. The PCORI Pipeline to Proposal Awards have been created to help build the community and capacity necessary to later develop a patient-centered comparative effectiveness research project. We are very pleased that the Veteran’s Suicide Advisory Group had received this support. View our study here.

Canine Visitation and Hospitalized Older Veterans: An Innovative Approach to Impacting Stress Indicators

This study investigates the effects of canine interaction on stress responses (salivary cortisol, salivary alpha-amylase, immunoglobulin A, blood pressure, and heart rate) in senior veterans receiving palliative care at the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System in Denver, CO.

Working Dogs for Wounded Warriors: Understanding Patient Stress in Aeromedical Evacuation and the Impact of Animal Assisted Intervention

Dr. Krause-Parello is the associate investigator of this study investigating the biobehavioral and psychobiologic interface among animal-assisted intervention and stress indicators, salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase, and IgA, as well as blood pressure and pulse, in wounded warriors undergoing aeromedical evacuation from Ramstein, Germany to the Aeromedical Staging Facility at Andrews Air Force Base.

AAI Research

Dr. Krause-Parello has many AAI initiatives. Below are some of her funded projects involving AAI: 

Behavioral and Psychobiologic Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Traumatic Stress Disorder in Child Survivors of Sexual Abuse 

Dr. Krause-Parello is the principal investigator of this study dealing with canine companionship for children who have suffered from sexual abuse. 

The Effects of Canines Visitation on Older Adults and their Caregivers Living in the Community

This study examined the effect of pet visitation on blood pressure and pulse in older adults and their caregivers with Dr. Krause-Parello as principal investigator.

Measuring Cortisol and Immunoglobulin A in Human Saliva

As principal investigator, Dr. Krause-Parello aimed to examine the relationship among stress, pet interaction, and health (using in vivo and in vitro measurements).

Relationships Among Loneliness, Human Social Support, Pet Attachment Support, and Subjective Well-being in Older Adults

The goal of this project was to study the relationships among loneliness, social support, pet attachment support, and subjective well-being in older adults. Dr. Krause-Parello was the principal investigator.


This program of research is dedicated to Dr. Krause-Parello's dachshund, Samantha who has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.



Animal-assisted intervention (AAI) is an interesting and innovative approach to well-being and health across the lifespan. Below are some samples  of the media attention Dr. Krause-Parello’s work has received.

KEZW Radio Dr. Krause-Parello was interviewed on radio station, KEZW, on April 29, 2015. On the program, she speaks about the development of the C-P.A.W.W. initiative and future steps to be taken. You can listen to the entire segment on Soundcloud​.

7News Den​verColorado researcher hopes to change face of veteran care with service dogs

"'Twenty-two vets a day are dying by suicide,' said Parello. 'They can't wait two years for a service dog.'"

CU Connections
CU Anschutz Researcher Examining Impact of Service Dogs on Returning Vets

"'Through the C-P.A.W.W. program, veterans are reporting that they are more empowered to speak about their own experiences and advocate for their own health needs. With this knowledge, we hope to pair more service animals with more veterans, and ultimately, change the face of veteran care and public policy.'"

Rutgers Magazine:​ Sit, Stay, Heal

"'It's that reciprocal relationship and that unconditional love and commitment,' says Krause-Parello, a lifelong dog owner. 'If there's stress of something upsetting or something happy, they;re right there by your side, always looking out for you and having your back.'"

Cat Fancy: Feline Comfort- Evidence Suggests that Cats Can Help People Cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.pdfFeline Comfort- Evidence Suggests that Cats Can Help People Cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.pdf

"[Dogs] can be trained much more quickly, but [research assistant, Nora Mund] says there's no reason why other pets, including cats, would not be great companions, because the 'unconditional love' factor is huge when it comes to anxiety, depression and loneliness."

Rutgers Spotlight: Helping Wounded Warriors through Research and Action

"[Dr. Krause-Parello] has expanded her research to examine the relationship between human-animal interaction and stress biomarkers in vulnerable populations including military veterans and children of alleged sexual abuse."​

CU Newsroom: A Veteran's Best Friend

The C-P.A.W.W. team and partner, Jill Wilschke, were recently featured in the Top 10 stories of 2014 by the CU Newsroom!​ Greetings from ISAZ and IAHAIO 2014

Dr. Krause-Parello was recently written up in a Swedish blog post about her presentation at the 2014 ISAZ conference. The blog post is in Swedish, but google translate can put the post into English.

Imprint- The Professional Magazine for Student Nurses: ComPAWWsionate Care: Sarni Combines Nursing School with Research

"For Sarah, being involved with C-P.A.W.W. is more than just a nursing school endeavor. It is her way of giving back to military families and the country... 'We really have a lot to do. It's not just the canine aspect. It's a veterans' health initiative.'"

2014 ANA National Awards Ceremony Highlight Video​

Dr. Krause-Parello was recognized by the American Nurses Association for her work. The above link takes you to the point in the ANA video where Dr. Krause-Parello is highlighted.

CU ConnectionsFive questions for Cheryl Krause-Parello

"Her dissertation examined how companion animals (dogs and cats) affected loneliness, social support and well-being in older adults. Over the past five years, Krause-Parello expanded her research to include 'human-animal interaction and stress biomarkers in vulnerable populations including military veterans and children of alleged sexual abuse.' Long-term, Krause-Parello hopes to find ways to use canines to moderate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on returning active-duty military members and veterans."​

American Nurses Association New York: Nurses’ Convention Keynote Promotes Importance of Service Dogs.pdfNurses’ Convention Keynote Promotes Importance of Service Dogs.pdf

"Krause-Parello has worked widely in the field of animal/human interaction and is currently focused on research that measures the effect of service dogs on stress markers in veterans seeking palliative care. 'Many people enjoy relationships with pets, but with service animals we believe they can have a significant impact on improving care for veterans in the hospital and in their lives' Krause-Parello said. 'We are continuing to develop the evidence that service dogs are an effective intervention with the goal of getting service animals to more veterans.'"

CU Newsroom: Cheryl Krause-Parello: Recognized nationally by nursing colleagues


"Krause-Parello is widely known for improving the health of wounded warriors through animal-assisted interventions. She has built a portfolio of scholarship and advanced research measuring psychobiological outcomes of animal interaction among military veterans, culminating in October 2013 when she founded C-P.A.W.W. [...] Through this program, she has created a network of veterans' organizations and health care facilities to partner in her research and, based on her findings, to implement animal-assisted interaction to improve military health."

The American NurseHer innovative projects to improve health of veterans, wounded warriors.pdf

"Then as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continued [...] I wanted to do something to give back, especially to those who sacrificed so much for our freedom. I expanded my research to see if animal-assisted interventions can improve the health of military veterans. I'm really trying to build the science around the therapeutic use of animals, because once that happens, we can change public policy and make it an evidence-based, reimbursable treatment."

Pets in the City MagazineHelping Our Heroes: Can Dogs Aid Returned Veterans?

"'Plenty of anecdotal evidence indicates that dogs help. Dogs are nonjudgmental and supremely compassionate,' says [Research Assistant, Jessica] Grey. 'The goals of the research are to provide objective data that indicate how canines relieve stress and to find the cases in which canines can be a reliable source of stress relief. Ultimately, we hope the data will make it easier for those need this kind of assistance to get it.'" (pg 16-17)

CU Connections: Man's best friend may actually help heal

"Animals have been serving humans for thousands of years, but scientific research indicates that they may also play a key role in healing, especially for those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Imagine hearing this from your provider: 'Play with your dog for two hours and call me in the morning.' Research by Associate Professor Cheryl A. Krause-Parello, PhD, RN, may lead to just that."

Orange County Register: Keeping stress on a leash

"There is evidence that interacting with and owning an animal can decrease certain stress markers. But there has not been much research about the effects of service dogs in improving the mental health of veterans with PTSD, nor enough research to define what a service dog is versus a companion dog, said Cheryl Krause-Parello, an associate professor in nursing at the University of Colorado."

ReadTheSpirit Online Magazine: Dogs, Bees and Us: Does "Lassie" reduce stress?

"If a lab analyzes your saliva for stress biomarkers, you'll find that they have fallen after watching the canine clip. Watching Lassie reduces stress. That's the conclusion of research conducted by Cheryl A. Krause-Parello, currently an associate professor at the University of Colorado [Denver] College of Nursing and Director of Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors- C-P.A.W.W."


Waffle.Cheryl.CU  239 x 248.jpg

University of Colorado Denver: A Veteran's Best Friend: Therapy and research with dogs help returning service members

"'Our instincts tell us that animals make a difference, that they have an effect on people they visit,' Krause-Parello said. 'But it's not enough to just say it happens. You need research and you need to measure the difference animals make.'"


USA Weekend:
Why pets are good for us

"In recent years, research has demonstrated the healthful benefits of pets. Now, investigators are trying to figure out why pets are good for us. Krause-Parello, assistant professor and director of the Center for Nursing Research at Kean University in Union, N.J., learned that people feel better after watching a Lassie flick because their levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, take a free fall."





Living Media: People On The Move: Cheryl A. Krause-Parello

"Their innovative two-year study, commencing at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD this summer, will explore how  animal-assisted therapy may reduce the stress biomarkers present in saliva, such as cortisol and immunoglobulin A (IgA), in combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and combat-related traumatic brain injury. 'We will be looking to see if their stress indicators reduce, if blood  pressure falls, if they look forward to the dog coming, and if there’s a lasting effect from the canine visitation. We will take the physiologic  measurements before, after and 30 minutes after the canine’s visit, and compare the results to routine care. This is an investigation to see where  this type of research can lead to,' Dr. Krause-Parello says."

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