By Lacey Nermergut
Bentley University students and faculty may have noticed a young black lab-golden mix puppy pouncing through the freshly fallen snow around campus lately. The almost-four-month-old puppy named Kesar is currently being trained as an assistance dog for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI).
Kesar, sponsored by the University, has 18 months with Assistant Director of the Residential Center, Tony Martin. Following his 18 months in basic training, he will train for six-to-nine months with a professional CCI instructor.
His CCI training includes 40 advanced commands, typically out of the scope of normal dogs. CCI dogs can become one of four types of assistance dogs: service dogs, hearing dogs, facility dogs, and skilled companions.
“We wanted to have a connection on campus,” said Martin. Some schools currently engage in this program, but they have their commuter students care for the dog. Bentley decided to become the dog’s temporary home and training facility.
“For [President] Gloria [Larson], it was more or less an opportunity,” said Martin. “She knows individuals who have raised assistance dogs. She actually has a retired assistance dog. For her, it was a good opportunity for Bentley to be raising a dog.”
The university is currently sponsoring the dog, covering all necessary costs for his 18 month upbringing.
“If we’re paying for a dog to be raised on campus [then we can] get the publicity out there for the program,” said Martin.
Bentley hopes to generate awareness for the program and thus, encourage greater participation of volunteers in the program. The more volunteers the program can attract, the more dogs that can be sent into the field of assistance to make a significant impact on an individual’s life.
Kesar has been working diligently to learn his commands. He has mastered “sit” and is progressing well with “waiting.” “Waiting” happens when the dog waits to cross through threshold before given permission from his owner. He is also currently working “down.”
Currently, Kesar, though a very social puppy, is working on his “visit” command. Though students on campus might be very excited to run up and pet him, Martin would like to remind them that part of Kesar’s training includes being granted permission to visit before he can play with students.
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