2021 Convention

Charlotte, North Carolina

October 1–4, 2021

Four service dog users joyfully smile at the camera as they sit on rocking chairs outside of a Cracker Barrel restaurant.

The convention is a place for friends, old and new.



Note: The 2021 convention was shifted from May 14–17 to October 1–4 due to the pandemic.

Our 2021 convention will be among the friendly faces of Pineville, North Carolina—an affordable suburb of Charlotte. This is close to our past Rock Hill, SC conventions, but significantly closer to the prominent Charlotte, NC Airport.

The convention will take place sandwiching the first weekend in October. There are no guarantees, but we’re hoping this date and new social policies will enable us to stay safe when it comes to the pandemic.

We’ll return to the lovely lodging of a Hilton Garden Inn for our convention. While not designed for pedestrians, the hotel is within walking distance of a choice selection of eateries and a shopping center, and is near a beautiful park and the Carolina Place Mall. Plan to arrive by Friday, October 1st for the welcome meeting that night (attendance expected) and to leave no earlier than Monday, October 4th (officially scheduled activities run into Sunday night).


Registration closes on August 27th. Details are on the 2021 Convention Registration page.

Scholarship applications are due July 1st.

Info packet

Our info packet has much of what you want to know about the convention, plus the policies you need to know about if you’re considering joining us.

The convention info packet is linked in this sentence. Its details are subject to change.


Across the room there are five women with their service dogs (one a service plushie!) during a circle discussion.

Convention-goers are free to relax as they learn, share, and have fun.

What’s it like? Are there pictures?

PSDP conventions are times to network with service dog handlers through workshops, training, support, and a lot of fun! The 2021 convention pictures come in three links below:

Pictures: part 1 (Friday night and Saturday)

Pictures: part 2 (Sunday)


The long-form testing video is on Youtube and embedded below.

For more of a taste of what they’re like, enjoy the quotations below and the 2019 convention pictures—and find more on the pages of previous conventions.

Health guidelines

We will continue to monitor and follow CDC guidance and local requirements. Respect one another. Masks are required indoors. At least one COVID vaccine shot is required. Anyone who is feeling unwell should expect to isolate/visit urgent care.


Update, 8/4: Unless the situation significantly turns around, there will be an indoors masking requirement for the convention, in accordance with CDC guidance. We strongly advise all participants to respect others’ health by doing their part not to incubate virus variants. Some of our beloved community members have physically fragile health—we all more than appreciate the increased safety of a vaccinated peer group.

Update, 8/9: Our planning team has been seriously thinking about how to keep our fellow community members as safe as we reasonably can at the convention.

Here is our context. Rates of COVID are sharply increasing in the US. In the county where our convention is being held, the current percent positive rate for those getting tests is above 12% (very high) and unvaccinated COVID patients are straining hospitals across the country for everyone. We have some medically fragile people in our community and coming to our convention.

With all this in mind, we are having a 1-shot minimum COVID vaccination requirement to be as safe as we can for convention-goers and the public.

It is too late in the game to require everyone to be fully vaccinated, so we are being realistic in requiring everyone to have a minimum of one shot. If you haven’t gotten yours yet, be sure to get it at least two weeks before travel so it will be effective.

Masks will still be required indoors, per CDC guidance. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Update, 9/1: We are gravely serious about protecting convention-goers from the airborne-based COVID-19. As we previously noted, masks will generally be required indoors and convention-goers are required to have at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot.

In addition, ventilation is an extremely important factor in preventing the indoor spread of aerosolized viruses. We will have a large meeting room in proportion to the number of people (approx. 15 people in approx. 1500 sq. ft.), inside and outside doors open in our meeting space, and air circulators running. This will create a high ACH (rate of air change per hour), which scientists indicate is key.

We will eat outside or spaced apart whenever possible. We will not have the planned walled-off section for short documentary interviews, in order not to create stagnant air spaces. Instead of a documentary this year, we will be setting up equipment for enjoyable (individual) team portraits, which will allow for greater airflow, with an air circulator in place to ensure greater safety for everyone when any photography subject is maskless.

While COVID-19 is not significantly spread by surfaces, rather than air, we will have unscented alcohol wipes and unscented soap and sinks in the room. If you plan to bring hand sanitizer, please remember our policy against using scented products.

By respecting one another’s health in these ways and taking all due precautions, we strive to have the safest small convention we can.



We’re accepting convention sponsors through August 27th for 2021 and we’d love to have you partner with us. If you have a donation of goods or services, volunteers like Deanna Thompson—our Goodie Bag Guru—await you with a warm heart and a smiling face. Come on board—it’s rewarding and easy! (2020 sponsors carry over to 2021 due to the 2020 cancellation.)

Gold sponsors:

Seated at a table among other formal tables, a bearded man in a suit and tie smiles with also-smiling young woman in red shirt and glasses holding a drink. Graphic with text. Ruffled oxblood border with a large red heart, text overlaid. Text: In memory of Gabriel, a great soul who assisted his partner for 8 wonderful years and let us see how truly remarkable a service dog can be.

In honor of the Efthimiou family, In memory of Gabriel

Silver sponsors:

"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. logo for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Piedmont Tri-County Stylized drawing of a tooth sitting on a slightly curved grass-green line, in three brushstrokes. The two strokes composing the tooth are sky blue and turquoise.

The Bark, Calm Wave Productions, NAMI Piedmont Tri-County, Park Dental Group

Bronze sponsors:

Stylized text logo for BlueCollar Working Dog Logo with black background and aqua silhouette of a person standing next to a large dog. Text: Holden Scott's Dog Gear & Design @holdenscottsdoggear #holdenscottsdoggear Logo of a red chili with a green apostrophe s Logo with a dog silhouette stretched out leaping and the text "K9 Activity Club & Lodge", with a pawprint shape as the empty area in the top part of the number 9. Logo "mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakery" in orange, with yellow cartoon mushroom person in blue hat smiling and holding up a slice of pizza as if about to eat it Logo graphic, black background gold text and Asian border design on top; text says "Z My Zen www.shopmyzen.com" Logo with text that says "petSupermarket" with no spaces in with letters with "Super" in orange and all of it underlined in white. Logo "spcaLA Friends for life." Text in black except "LA" is in blue and the "A" has a cat silhouette within a dog silohouette. A slight woman with medium-length dark hair in a tan brimmed hat stands at a microphone and plays a ukelele. Logo with text that says "unleashed by Petco". "unleashed" is large, with "un" in sage green and "leashed by petco" in milk chocolate brown, and "by petco is small and horizontal on the right, looking like an exclamation mark. UPS logo, which is a brown shield with a gold or bronze border and the letters "ups" in lowercase in the same color. VCA 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 Logo with text. Logo is a green-outlined black circle with connected letters V and E inside in white. Text: Vital Essentials Purely raw. Instinctively healthy. Logo of a red-headed smiling girl with pigtails out to the sides with blue bows and a blue and white striped high collar, all sticking out of a circle.

BlueCollar Working Dog, Chili’s Bar & Grill—Rohnert Park, Holden Scott’s Dog Gear, K9 Activity Club & Lodge, Mellow Mushroom—Rock Hill, My Zen, Pet Supermarket—Rock Hill, SPCALA Marketplace, Star Blue, Unleashed by Petco, The UPS Store—Fulton Road Santa Rosa, VCA Westside Animal Hospital—Santa Rosa, VIP Petcare—Windsor, Vital Essentials, Wendy’s—Rock Hill


Three women in a bowling alley look up at a scoreboard.  All three women are smiling, and one is clapping.  One of the women holds a Chihuahua for another bowler.

We’re looking forward to having a ball together!


Our 2019 convention was rated 4.639 / 5 overall by convention-goers! They had the following to pass along to those considering joining us at future conventions:

If anyone out there with a PSD or wanting a PSD feels alone or like there is no one that understands or that can relate to them and the way they live or the way they feel and think, come to a PSDP convention and you will find the people that you have been looking for your whole life. That is how it as for me.

The people stood out to me the most. Very helpful, understanding and most of all caring. They cared about not only my comfort and the comfort of my dog but also my safety overall.

The thing that stands out to me is the love and acceptance I feel from my PSDP family. The knowledge I leave with is priceless.

This was a great Convention! We enjoyed everything!

The portion that stood out to me personally was being able to associate and speak with members of my community. Everyone understood to some degree where everyone else was coming from in their problems and triumphs. I felt so at home when I allowed myself to relax.

I look forward to conventions all year long!

PSDP has been an important resource in my service dog journey. Being able to actually meet everyone that have helped me so much over the years was life changing. The convention has helped me feel less alone and more connected with those in my circle. I have expanded my world just a little bit more because of PSDP and the convention has helped confirm that.

I have never been so far away from home yet felt so at home before. This is the best gift I could ever give myself and my service dog.