Dogs on campus provide positive reinforcements

Paige Sanders, Reporter

Dogs can provide support and companionship for many people, and owning a dog can benefit people in many ways. Several students living on campus at California Lutheran University have dogs that positively impact their lives. 

Mia Deck is a junior at Cal Lutheran who has a dog named Josie living with her on campus. Josie is currently eight months old and is a mix of golden retriever and labrador retriever. Josie has been living with Deck since May of last year. 

Josie’s purpose of being on campus is that she is a service dog in training for Canine Companions for Independence. Having her in the college campus setting really allows her to become familiar with different social interactions and distractions,” Deck said in an email interview. 

Deck talked about the many benefits of having Josie with her around campus and in her classes. 

“The best thing about having Josie with me is she’s the cutest companion to have in the dorms and in the classroom,” Deck said. “Having her in my presence is just very comforting and she loves snuggles which is great for when school becomes a lot.”

Since Josie is a service dog in training for Canine Companions for Independence, Deck explained CCI and the training process for Josie. 

“CCI is a nonprofit organization that provides free of charge service dogs to those who need them. We receive the dogs at 2 months old and have them until they’re around 1.5 years old,” Deck said. “Throughout that time, we’re socializing them in different settings, teaching them their commands, taking them to puppy classes, and preparing them to go off to advanced training.”

Deck further explained the training process Josie is currently going through. 

“After 1.5 years, they go off to advanced training. During advanced training, these dogs work with professional trainers and learn more advanced skills,” Deck said. “If they pass advanced training and all their tests, they’ll go through a matching process where they’ll find their forever person. If they do not pass, they become ‘change of career’ dogs and the puppy raiser can keep them.”

Whether or not Josie passes her advanced training tests will determine if she will be a service dog or if she will remain with Deck. 

“Josie will ideally be a service dog for somebody in a wheelchair or maybe a veteran who suffers from PTSD. She could also become a ‘Facility dog’ meaning she’d be in a hospital, courtroom, classroom, etc. She might even be a breeder or get transferred to the hearing-dog program,” Deck said. 

Diesel is another on-campus dog, living Taylor Waters, a junior at Cal Lutheran.  Diesel has been living with Waters on campus for one and a half years as an emotional support animal. 

“Having Diesel on campus has positively impacted me because he helps me immensely when I’m stressed or dealing with panic attacks,” Waters said in an email interview. “He also helps me be active by going out on walks.”

Waters said the experience has been living with Diesel in the dorms has been able to positively impact other students as well. 

“It’s amazing to see that, not only does he help me, but he has helped so many other people,” Waters said. “I’m not the only student who deals with stress and Diesel has been an outlet for others as well. People would come by my dorm last year just to see him and you can tell how much he affected students positively and brightened their days.”

Senior Cari Monraz has a dog named Cooper, a five-year-old goldendoodle. He been living with her on campus since February of this year. Cooper is an emotional support animal and he benefits Monraz by relieving stress and anxiety. 

“He has positively impacted my mental health by just being there and giving me unconditional love,” Monraz said in an email interview. “He is a very cuddly dog and will sit with me if I get really stressed and have me pet him to calm down. He has helped me through a lot and I am very grateful to have him live on campus with me.”

Cooper recently made his acting debut in the Theatre Art’s Department’s fall production on campus.

“Cooper performed in the CLU Shakespeare in Love play as ‘Spot’ and made a ton of new friends from that cast. They were super fantastic with him and he was so excited to go to rehearsal to see them,” Monraz said. 

Monraz said having Cooper living with her on campus has positively impacted her and her dog. 

“Having a dog on campus is great and Cooper loves all of the attention he receives from people. When we go on walks, we constantly bump into people who want to say hi and pet him and he lives for that,” Monraz said.