2018 Convention

April 6–8, 2018 in Solvang, California

Registration has ended and we’re done accepting sponsors for our 2018 convention. Start saving for future conventions or look into sponsoring one of them today. Sponsorship is a flashy way to get some name recognition while helping a unique charity’s community thrive!

The Santa Ynez Valley News and Santa Maria Times both published an article on April 16, 2018 about PSDP’s 2018 Convention bus training in Solvang, California. Board member Chanda Hagen is featured in the article titled “Santa Ynez Valley Transit donates bus, driver’s time to help train service dogs”.

Bronze sponsors:

Banfield Pet Hospital logo with orange cross containing dog and cat silhouettes"The Bark" logo. Orange text:, large on top: "BARk". Gray text underneath: "the dog culture magazine".CalmWave Productions logo: all within a circle, purple script name rounded on top of beach wave picture with white wave lines edited into the sand.Picture with text: Black lab wearing shiny blue plastic vest. Text in diagonally placed script reads: Holden Scott's Dog Gear".Margie Cantwell smiles and sits with Jack (a Jack Russell Terrier) in her lapRaley's red text logoSimple logo with text: Santa Ynez Valley TRANSIT, Solvang • Buellton • Santa Ynez • Los OlivosVCA Animal Hospital navy blue logo, with "VCA" in capital letters and a map of the contiguous US attached to the right of the "A".VIP Petcare logo in blue, green, and orange with three icons: dog, cat, and paw with medical cross inside

Banfield Pet Hospital (both Rohnert Park & Santa Rosa, CA), The Bark magazine, CalmWave Productions, Holden Scott’s Dog Gear, K9sBehave dog training, Margie Cantwell, Raley’s grocery store (Rohnert Park, CA), Santa Ynez Valley Transit, VCA Westside Animal Hospital (Santa Rosa, CA), VIP Petcare (Windsor, CA)

Attendees smile in a circle discussion at the 2017 PSDP Convention

Smiling friendships and inclusive openness are plentiful at PSDP conventions

Good times and good friends await you in Solvang, California! Our 2018 Convention returns us to a familiar haunt. Consult your calendar now for the first *full* weekend in April!

The quaint, walkable Danish town of Solvang features a diverse choice of eateries and shopping opportunities, with green spaces at regular intervals for nature lovers (and the canine call of nature). Solvang is flagrantly tourist-oriented and a mild-weathered, international vacation destination, sporting Nordic-seeming architecture, neo-Nordic culture, and cosmopolitan consumers. The area is reminiscent of a theme park, but without an admission price, all with a splash of wine country thrown in!

Solvang sits roughly eight miles inland from the Pacific Ocean amid a region halfway between the major coastal California population centers, making it drivable for several prospective attendees. For those not able or inclined to drive the whole distance, minor and major airports and train stations dot the region.


Our convention activities begin Friday evening on April 6th in the Legion Wing of the Veterans Memorial Building at the end of the main drag in Solvang, California. We’ll keep you engaged throughout the weekend on the 7th and 8th. Most attendees prefer to arrive or depart with an extra day or two, both to recover from the stress of travel and especially to spend more quality time with loving peers. This especially includes a traditional Monday morning breakfast together.

Registration is open until March 2nd. Details are on the 2018 Convention Registration page.

We may have scholarships available. Find out more on our Scholarships page; applications are due January 31st (deadline has passed for this convention).

Info packet

Here’s where we feature new info packet sections or announcements every week or so leading up to the convention, so you can keep checking back to stay up-to-date. If you want to look ahead, you can check out the whole (pdf) info packet for the 2018 convention below:

2018 Convention Info Packet

February 2nd, 2018: Schedule (subject to change)

Friday, April 6th
7:30 p.m. Sign-in and welcome meeting, mandatory, convention meet & greet

Saturday, April 7th
8:30–10:30 CGC & public access test (mandatory breakfast at 8:00 at Birkholm’s Bakery, cost not included in PAT fee)
9:00–10:30 Social breakfast for non-testers
10:30–11:00 Committee meeting (closed meeting)
11:00–12:30 Training opportunity: A bus at our pace (interactive activity)
12:30–2:00 Lunch on your own
2:00–3:00 Re-thinking what it means to be a service dog advocate (circle discussion)
3:00–3:30 Break
3:30–5:00 Setting yourself (and your dog) up for success (circle discussion)
5:00–7:00 Dinner on your own
6:30–7:00 Committee meeting (closed meeting, tentative)
7:00–8:00 Social hour (informal)

Sunday, April 8th
8:30–10:30 CGC(A) & CGC(U)
9:00–10:30 Social breakfast for non-testers
10:30–11:00 Committee meeting (closed meeting)
11:00–noon Living with your disability and embracing your service dog use (circle discussion)
noon–1:30 Lunch on your own
1:30–3:00 Training spotlight: Teaching retrieve (interactive activity)
3:00–3:30 Break
3:30–5:00 Handling the general public, with practice (interactive activity)
5:00–7:00 Dinner on your own
7:00–8:00 Decompression and closing thoughts, room cleanup

Monday, April 9th
9:00–10:30 Social breakfast on the town (Birkholm’s Bakery)

What’s it like? Are there pictures?

PSDP conventions are times to network with service dog handlers through workshops, training, and support. For a taste of what they’re like, enjoy the quotations below and the 2018 convention pictures and videos, and find more on the pages of previous conventions.

Group photo at the 2017 PSDP Convention

Your community is waiting to welcome you!

Our 2017 convention was rated 4.836 / 5 overall by convention-goers! They had the following to pass along to those considering joining us at future conventions:

This was my first convention and I can honestly say “that meeting the other attendees has changed my life for the better” If at all possible I will be at next year’s convention. I found it to be a very profound experience. I had no idea meeting “my own kind” so to speak would affect me so deeply.

Meeting new people was better than I thought. Everyone was so accepting

The annual convention is like a family reunion I actually want to attend.

I loved meeting new convention goers. I made some good friendships.

I look forward to and save for the annual PSDP convention every year starting the day that the last convention is over. The conventions give me so much life, inspiration, hope, and education. For once I am the “normal” one. Everyone there understands my mental illness, and my service dog, and all are so supportive. The best part of my year!

This convention is really the only place where I am completely accepted, and understood, with my MI and my service dog.

I feel as if I belong when I am at the convention. I am not the weird person with a dog. I am part of a whole.

PSDP Convention is a great way to grow as a service dog team. Yes, I was nervous going but the benefits sure outweighed the challenges of my MI. Everyone was so welcoming and understanding.

WONDERFUL convention – helped my husband understand & accept validity of benefits from my service dog

The convention is a meetup like no other, full of priceless experiences and surprisingly fast friendships. If you’re a PSD handler and want to know what home feels like, do an enormous favor for yourself and be sure you make it to a PSDP convention!

Wow! I’m left wanting more and plan to attend all the future PSDP conventions I can.

Great work planning committee! See y’all in California!