By: Hope Brant
There is a new organization at The University of Findlay called 4 Paws for Ability. This non-profit organization that trains service dogs is based out of Xenia, Ohio.
The mission of 4 Paws is to enrich the lives of children with disabilities, veterans from recent conflicts that has resulted in the loss of their limbs or hearing with in active combat, and to educate the public to accept the use of service dogs in public places.
The president and founder of 4 Paws for Ability on campus, Rachael Quandt, who is a junior pre-vet major, was touring colleges before coming to UF when she visited a university that had an organization similar to 4 Paws for Ability. When Quandt heard about this, she fell in love with the idea of training service dogs.
“When I decided to attend The University of Findlay, I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to train service dogs in training,” said Quandt. “So, I decided to start a club here to not only train my own but, all other students at the university.”
Joining the club, is as easy as coming to the meetings and joining. Meetings are held in Davis room 102 every other Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. It only has a $10 fee and that covers the whole year.
The main organization, 4 Paws, places a dog with a “raiser” (student club member). It provides food, a kennel, a bone, two tennis balls, monthly medications, leash and collar, tags, and a service vest for the dog.
As of right now 4 Paws on campus only has one dog in training, Bravo, and Quandt is his raiser. 4 Paws at UF only does basic socialization and behavioral training in regards to training the dogs.
Not everyone needs to raise their own pup. Skyla Reynolds, secretary of 4 Paws for Ability lives in a resident hall on campus so, she is not raising her own pup. However, members like Reynolds can still become a puppy-sitter.
“I am training to be a puppy-sitter, so I will only be with a dog when a raiser is not able to watch their dog. This includes if one of the puppy raisers on campus is at a lab,” said Reynolds.
“The officers are currently going through the 4 Paws training. After being an active member for a semester you can apply to the UF 4 Paws Club to be a sitter. Once approved by the club, and 4 Paws and complete training they are able to sit any 4 Paws dog even outside of the university,” said Quandt. “After being a ‘sitter’ for a semester, then the student is able to apply through the club to be a ‘raiser’. Once approved, 4 Paws will place the student with a service-dog-in-training.”
As a member of the club on campus, the student does not need to be a sitter or a raiser. And if they are a sitter, they do not need to become a raiser. It is up to the student member to decide what they want to do with the group.
Quandt is already attached to Bravo, but at the end of the day she hopes that she will have trained him successfully so he can one day serve someone in need. Quandt is dedicated to giving Bravo to someone in need.
“Ultimately he will be such a large part of someone else’s life and that is all that matters.” said Quandt.
Quandt is not the only one that feels that way. Caroline Christoff, vice president of the club, is a puppy sitter for Bravo and she, like Quandt, is very much attached to Bravo. She says it will be hard to let him go.
“I cannot imagine how much harder it will be for Rachael,” said Christoff, “We are in this for the greater good so that he can go on and help someone else. So that is just part of the process. Loving an animal or person or anything is worth the loss to me at the end.”
The pups have to go through basic training with a handler and that amount of time can vary between puppies. However, they have to be at least a 1 old or more to go onto advanced training.
Christoff has found this organization very gratifying, in many different ways.
“The most rewarding part of this experience so far has been taking Bravo in public,” said Christoff. “See him behave so well for a 6-month-old pup… I also love to have him ‘hit it’ and open automatic doors like he may likely do in the future!”
4 Paws does not cost The University of Findlay any expense. The club has not received any funding from Student Government Association yet due to it being a brand-new club, but the officers expect it will eventually, and for the dogs, 4 Paws for Ability covers all of their costs.