Pet Away Worry and Stress (PAWS)
PAWS@Mac is Macalester’s therapy dog program that provides safe and friendly spaces for students, staff, and faculty to interact and de-stress with certified therapy dogs. It was founded by Dr. Steph (from HWC), who wanted to share her therapy dog Kevin with the Mac community. She wrote a proposal to fund the training of student handlers and asked to bring him to campus two days a week as a pilot program in 2015-2016. HWC provided the funding and many people at Macalester have welcomed him–and other additions to the PAWS team–with open arms.
Where Do They Work?
Be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook (pawsatmac) for updates! Kevin is on a reduced schedule this year (mini-sabbatical) but can be found occasionally in the HWC waiting room area and he attends various events that he is invited to. Finnegan, Leo, & Bubba have times in the library and other spots on campus.
About the Dogs
The PAWS team consists of five certified therapy dogs and their handlers. Kevin with Dr. Steph, Finnegan with Cheryl Doucette from Advancement, and Leo with Andi Wulff from Special Events and Bubba with Ann Warren from Advancement.
Kevin is Dr. Steph’s 5-year-old golden retriever. He lives with Steph, her husband Ryan, and their two kids Elliot and Sydney. He is much loved by their whole family and has been brightening their lives since 2011.
Kevin is named by Dr. Steph’s kids for the rainbow bird in the Pixar movie Up. The dog’s name in that film was Dug, but the kids felt the rainbow bird had more charisma and a better name. He loves jelly toast and empty yogurt containers as favorite treats. He appreciates petting of all sorts and especially loves kids. His first 2 years of therapy work have been on Dr. Steph’s days away from Mac, where she volunteered (and still does) with him at an elementary school in St. Louis Park.
Finnegan is an 11-year-old Golden Retriever. He is fairly dark red and he weighs about 52 pounds. I’ve had him since 2006 when he was surrendered to a rescue because he was a wild child. He was….and still is a wild boy, but he is also incredibly sweet. He’s had a lot of training and still does agility. He has been a therapy dog since early 2009. He is a regular in the Abbott Northwestern Behavioral Health Unit and he visits senior citizens on a monthly basis as well. He is the best therapy dog I’ve handled as he is very tuned into people.
Leo the collie is a former stray from a shelter and is approximately 9 years old. In his free time he enjoys herding sheep and ducks.
About Therapy Training
Kevin completed his puppy kindergarten, Obedience 1 and 2 classes at The Canine Coach and then became eligible to participate in their course for aspiring therapy dogs. He passed his Therapy Dog International certification exam in 2012 and has been working ever since. Other owners have used North Star Therapy Animals or Pet Partners to certify.
To invite Kevin to your event, class, or to learn more about Macalester’s therapy dog program contact firstname.lastname@example.org.