Robin is only five months old but she’s already in college. The Canine Companions puppy rooms with sophomore Morgan Bell, a volunteer puppy raiser who takes Robin with her to classes, study sessions and around campus at the University of Central Florida.
Robin, the yellow lab puppy, who arrived at Morgan’s dormitory room with lots of potential, is now on her way to becoming a highly trained assistance dog. The year and a half that Robin will spend in college will allow Morgan to teach her 30 commands, basic obedience and provide many socialization opportunities in preparation for professional training at the Southeast Training Center.
The university saw benefits for students participating as puppy raisers as well. “UCF recognized the learning opportunities that the Canine Companions for Independence program could bring to a residence hall community,” said Christi Hartzler, executive director of Housing and Residence Life at the university. “Morgan underwent a rigorous selection process and has made a huge personal commitment to work with Robin over the next year.”
Prior to committing to the program, Morgan had to get approval from the university’s student housing department, her resident assistant and all of her roommates to be allowed to house the puppy in their dorm room. Morgan knows that being a volunteer puppy raiser is a big commitment and comes with a lot of responsibility.
“Having a puppy live with me in university housing will be an awesome experience. It will increase my capacity for responsibility, will help me structure my days and will give me a feeling of purposefulness. In addition, UCF students, faculty and staff will learn more about assistance dogs and about the impact they have for people with disabilities,” said Bell.
As a puppy raiser it’s important that Morgan takes Robin out and about, allowing her to socialize with strangers, attend classes, walk amid crowds and traffic and otherwise become familiar with the world around them. “College students are some of the best people to train our puppies because they are always putting them in social situations,” said the Southeast Region puppy program manager, LeAnn Siefferman.
Canine Companions puppies are being raised by college students across the country. This has become a popular extracurricular activity for many students and some colleges have even created clubs around puppy raising for Canine Companions. Not only are puppies being well socialized, but college students are great at sharing our mission. And after all, who wouldn’t want a fluffy puppy as a roommate?
More stories and links to our college puppy raiser groups:
University of Central Florida
UCF student starts program for service dogs on campus
UCF photo gallery
University of Delaware
Visit the Instagram account of the puppies being raised at the University of Delaware
Canine Companions is proud of the many puppy raising students and clubs we have on campuses throughout the United States. If you’d like to start a college puppy raising program, contact us at 1-800-572-BARK (2275).