Meet Nubbin, the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professionals’ most recent service-to-be dog. For the first time ever, the puppy training program — which prepares dogs to be working service animals — has expanded from the School of Physical Therapy to various other schools within RHCHP.
We sat down with Shelene Thomas, assistant professor, School of Physical Therapy, to talk about what this new initiative means for Regis, the benefits pet therapy provides, as well how faculty and staff can get involved.
How is this new expansion different than the current puppy training program?
This new expansion within our Canine Companion program will allow graduate students from the School of Physical Therapy, Pharmacy, Counseling and Creighton-Regis Pathway Occupational Therapy, as well as undergraduate Health and Exercise Science students, to help raise, train and socialize Nubbin, preparing her to become a full-fledged service animal. One of the great things this interprofessional aspect provides is a distinct emphasis on the idea of a patient-centered focus within the professional health care workplace. The collaboration between these groups of students teaches them how to affectively work together, putting the patient’s needs above all else.
What are some of the benefits to pet therapy, both for students and patients?
Canine Companions does an incredible job of preparing these dogs to become a primary source of support and love for their owners. The dogs that graduate the program become one of four things: full-service dogs (work one-on-one with adults with disabilities), companion dogs (work with children with disabilities), facility dogs (provides comfort to patients in places such as court rooms, schools or other public settings) or dogs that work with the hearing-impaired.
Students have gained a chance to take on leadership roles, to work more in the community, and learn about what goes into training dogs to be service animals.
How can faculty and staff get involved in the program?
We are always looking for volunteers to take on leadership roles and become involved. Regis is one of the only institutions that offers this kind of puppy training program to its students, and we would love more than anything to see it continue to grow.
To get your paws on one of these adorable fur-helpers, and to learn more about Regis’ School of Physical Therapy, Pharmacy, Counseling or undergraduate Health and Exercise Science programs, contact your admissions counselor.