K9 Partners Program Grows as BW Students Train Therapy Dogs on Campus
BW students working under the guidance of OhioGuidestone, in partnership with the BW Department of Psychology, are at it again this semester: reducing stress on campus as they increase the number of therapy dogs-in-training at BW.
The K9 PARTNERS program allows students of any major to learn about service animals as they help an assortment of canine companions train for the Therapy Dog International (TDI) test. The TDI assessment not only examines the dog's ability to obey basic commands but also monitors how they'd react to unusual situations they may encounter on a day-to-day basis acting as a service animal.
Last year around 17 students participated in the program, this year there are 35 students and 7 dogs, making it the largest group since K9 PARTNERS began. It’s anticipated that all seven current dogs will pass their TDI tm test which is a “testament to the student trainer’s engagement, enthusiasm and hard work with the dogs.”
OhioGuidestone, which works with youth and families to provide specialized therapy programs, will use the certified dogs to reduce anxiety and function as a companion and listener for those who need it most. Four dogs that "graduated" from the BW program now work at these facilities.
Bonus for BW Community
The bonus? Not only are the dogs preparing for their therapy dog exam, but they're training in places all around campus, which means students benefit from the calming effects, as well. This is especially important during finals week when the dogs are stationed in places like the library, were students have been studying for hours. Even the handlers say that they experience a therapeutic benefit.
Luca, the Great Dane, an original "graduate" of the BW program and the first OhioGuidestone K9 PARTNER, now helps select the student trainers and new dog additions to the program along with performing his role of increasing clients' self-esteem.
BW students can look for Luca, who makes a difference for all other dogs from the program, past and present, in Ritter library during the Spring 2016 finals week.