By Natalie Wertz
The Great Dane, Diesel, has been making his way around UF’s campus. But he’s not just a pet.
If you spend a lot of time on The University of Findlay’s campus, you may often see dogs. A man’s best friend and our cuddly sweet companion yet, most of these dogs aren’t pets. Instead, many of these furry friends are actually registered as service animals, UF 4Paws trainees, or Emotional Support Animals (ESAs).
At 171 pounds, this large furry friend lives in the dorms on campus. UF freshman and Equine Studies major Lily Weikel is Diesel’s handler.
“Diesel is an emotional support animal,” Weikel said in an email interview. “I met him when he was 8 weeks old.”
Diesel is now 7 years old and is an unofficial UF Oiler.
“It’s just him and I [in the dorm],” Weikel said. “I am very fortunate for that, he is very large but with it just being him and I, it works out very well.”
A real-life Scooby-Doo, Diesel the Great Dane loves to sleep.
“He’ll sleep all day if he gets the chance,” said Weikel.
Weikel also shared that when Diesel is on campus, he loves to go outside, go on walks, and meet everyone on campus.
“He is such a people loving dog,” said Weikel. “Anyone he meets, he falls in love with.”
Diesel’s name came from an agreement she made with her dad, being that they had to decide on a name they both agreed on.
“It took us months to come up with his name,” Weikel said. Many people on campus now know his name and call to him.
“He gets so excited,” Weikel said.
ESAs are not pets and they are not service dogs. A mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychologist, has to prescribe ESAs. Weikel explained that she has to go through her therapist to talk about requesting an emotional support animal. It is a process that is dissimilar to a process of getting a service animal, because they are very different.
“ESAs are not allowed in public areas [restaurants and classrooms] like service dogs are,” Weikel said. “This is so dangerous for people who have actual service dogs because ESAs may not have the same training as service animals do.”
ESAs could distract the service animal from the job that it must complete.
ESAs do not have to go through any specific training like service animals do, but they must meet vaccine requirements and must go through a licensed professional. An ESA registration cannot be completed online but instead, needs to be a letter signed by your doctor.
“ESAs are not just so you can bring your animal around campus. That puts a bad reputation on ESAs and service animals,” Weikel said. She expressed that if someone acts like their dog is a service animal when it is not properly trained is very dangerous.
“Be wise about it, talk to your doctors about it, and make a decision based on that!” said Weikel.
“Diesel has always been there for me whether he was registered or not,” Weikel said. “He’s comforted me by just being there when I felt like I had no one, when it was just me and him. He has saved me in more ways than one.”