Make no bones about it: Regis University is going to the dogs.

Meet Zuma, the School of Physical Therapy’s most recent service-to-be dog.

The School of Physical Therapy equips students with skills to adjust to any environment. As part of its cutting-edge curriculum, the school incorporates a pet therapy program for its doctoral students.

Wendy Anemaet, associate professor in the School of Physical Therapy and puppy trainer extraordinaire, recently sat down with to talk about Zuma, what goes into training a service dog and the benefits of this unique aspect of Regis’ curriculum.

Incorporating therapy dogs into the physical therapy program is something that is pretty unique to Regis. How did this all come about?

I had a service dog that graduated from Canine Companions, a nonprofit organization based out of California that provides highly trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities at no cost. After having such a wonderful experience working with this organization, I knew I had to bring that to Regis. Our program has been flourishing for five years now and in the process, has successfully trained five dogs.

What goes into this training, and what kind of support will she provide once she “graduates”?

Physical therapy doctoral students can apply to be in the puppy raising program after their first year. Eight have been chosen to care for and train Zuma for a year and a half as part of a service project, teaching her basic commands, socializing her and exposing her to as many things as possible. Once Zuma has completed her training at Regis, she will go back to California to complete an intensive training course, ultimately preparing for and matching her up with her forever home.  

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 really shows them what goes into training dogs to be service animals.  

Any memorable moments with Zuma thus far?

We could tell right away that Zuma was a Cali girl — she was not a fan of the snow.


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