In the club’s history, 13 dogs have been placed
By Lauren Wolters and Pulse Staff
The University of Findlay’s 4 Paws for Ability club has 12 dogs in training now but only had one service dog in 2019 when the club began. Since then the club has had 13 dogs graduate, move through advanced training, and be placed for service.
Those dogs are helping people with everything from seizure alert and mobility assistance, autism assistance and tracking, and Down syndrome assistance.
4 Paws trains dogs to eventually be able to assist children with disabilities and veterans. It is a nonprofit organization that partners with UF to take care of and train dogs for service.
The current President of 4 Paws at UF, Theresa Lamantia, says in an email interview, the organization provides the volunteers in the club dog food, a kennel, a bone, two tennis balls, monthly medications, leash and collar, tags, and a service vest for each dog in the training program. It does not cost the volunteer trainers any money to care for the dog. The UF chapter of 4 Paws does both behavioral and socialization training for their dogs.
Lamantia says she has never been involved in something as rewarding as this program.
“As president of the club, it is incredible to watch a community of dedicated volunteers come together to work towards a single purpose of helping change lives,” Lamantia said. “The dogs always connect so quickly with their person, and it is gratifying to watch as they give their new family a sense of normalcy.”
Now that the club has been operating for more than three years, several dogs have graduated and begun serving the public.
Bali, now called Tesla, was the first UF service dog to be placed with a child. Bali helps a child with autism and mobility assistance.
Ansley is the first and only UF dog to serve as Veteran assistance.
“Unfortunately, we do not get many updates once the dogs are placed with a family to work for,” Lamantia said. “It is up to the family to be willing to stay in communication with us regarding how the dog is doing.”
Several families have been more than willing to keep 4 Paws updated on their dogs.
Aquaria, Layton, Majolica (now Jojo), Prairie Dawn (now Molly), and Riley are all serving as autism assistants.
Jiggly (now Hank) is helping with seizure alert and mobility assistance.
Justice, Macaron, and Pazko are both now doing autism assistance and tracking.
Mozley is a multipurpose service dog used primarily as a seizure alert.
Sudsy is a Down syndrome assistance service dog.
While the campus club currently has a dozen dogs in training Lamantia says this number is constantly changing with new volunteers becoming certified and picking up new fosters to train, as well as dogs heading back to headquarters for Advanced Training.
Campus club volunteers get the puppies at eight weeks old and train the dogs in basic obedience and provide socialization for the dogs.
“We take them almost everywhere with us, giving them many opportunities to learn and become confident,” Lamantia said.
At around 10 months old, the dog will be evaluated by a 4 Paws trainer. They will be tested on their confidence level and trainability.
“At around a year to a year and a half, the dog goes on to their next stage of life, whether that be Advanced Training, becoming a breeder, or living the pet life as a Fabulous Flunky,” Lamantia said.
The dogs in Advanced Training are trained for a specific person and specific task, including mobility assistance, autism assistance, seizure alert, diabetes alert, multipurpose, or veteran assistance according to Lamantia.
“To know that us volunteers here at the University of Findlay play a role in getting the dogs to their families is a great feeling,” Lamantia said.
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