There are some new members of the UD community that have been sleeping under desks during class and even sniffing around neighbors’ porches.
Even so, they are making many friends and leaving their paw marks all over campus.
4 Paws for Ability has returned to campus for the second time. The nonprofit, which raises, trains and places service dogs with children worldwide who have disabilities has assigned eight dogs to teams of UD students during the fall semester to help socialize the animals for their future roles.
The program on campus began in spring 2015 when graduate student Amanda Prater decided to bring the campus’ first service dog—Crash— to the University for social training. She learned about the program when she was a University of Kentucky undergrad.
“It [was]my goal to implement this program on University of Dayton’s campus because being involved with 4 Paws for Ability is a great way for UD students to get involved with their community, and the campus is also a great environment for the dogs to be socialized in,” Prater, who is studying in the school of psychology, said.
Since then, UD’s program has grown and five dogs are already set to arrive spring semester.
“I’ve really come to respect the role of service dogs,” said student handler Meg Mahoney ’18, who is a foster parent for 5- month old Mike, a half lab and half golden retriever. “It’s been a great opportunity being able to educate others on what these dogs will do.”
The animals go everywhere with their handlers whether it’s class, grocery store shopping, restaurants or strolls through the neighborhood—all to make sure the dogs are ready for the next step, Advanced Training at the 4 Paws office in Xenia. Prior to coming to campus, the dogs are first trained at prisons by inmates, where the animals learn basic commands.
The dogs will eventually be trained and placed as: hearing ear dogs, autism assistance dogs, mobility assistance dogs, seizure assistance dogs, diabetic alert dogs, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder assistance dogs, facilitated guide dogs, multipurpose assistance dogs or search and rescue dogs.
“It is a blessing when you get to witness your foster dog meet their child for the first time,” Prater said. “When you see the child smile and hug the dog you worked with and love so much, you know you have to foster again.”