Lovable furry creatures are common on the WKU campus with Big Red and white squirrels, but you’ll start seeing another one soon. Meet CanDoo, a 2-year-old English cream golden retriever.
CanDoo is a facility dog who is being shared by Military Student Services and the Kelly Autism Program. He came to WKU thanks to support from Terry Scariot and John and Linda Kelly and thanks to his trainers at Smoky Mountain Service Dogs in Loudon, Tenn.
“We are delighted and honored and very grateful to Terry, John and Linda and everyone else who has had a hand in getting him here,” WKU President Gary Ransdell said. “We are delighted to have CanDoo in our campus community.”
While his main focus will be assisting students in Military Student Services and Kelly Autism Program, CanDoo will provide a taste of home for students who may be missing their own families or pet, according to Tonya Archey, director of Military Student Services.
“CanDoo draws a lot of attention where ever he goes on campus and because of that he is helping to promote increased visibility to the community of the many benefits and programs offered through Military Student Services,” said Teresa Jameson, military student liaison. “He visited the ‘Russia to 1900’ History class Monday and brought smiles from the entire class. With this one visit, several students stated that they felt happier just for getting to pet CanDoo and many asked when he would be back.”
CanDoo is also a welcome addition to the Kelly Autism Program. “He is wonderful with the children,” said Dr. Marty Boman, KAP director. “He was able to stop a child’s screaming behavior on Monday by applying pressure therapy. This diverted her attention and she was so thrilled with the special attention, that she is now determined to have more ‘CanDoo time.’ ”
College life creates a lot of stress for students—especially freshmen, and CanDoo specializes in helping to overcome stressful situations.
“CanDoo’s disposition is wonderful for this application,” said Mike Kitchens, a WKU graduate and former Hilltopper basketball player who serves as volunteer spokesperson and board chair for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. “CanDoo is a very laid back dog and he’ll be great with autistic children and with veterans. We see his role as a decompressor who can make everybody feel better.”
CanDoo is the fifth dog – and first facility dog — placed by the organization this year. The other four dogs are providing mobility assistance and other services to four disabled veterans in Tennessee, he said.
“It’s been extremely gratifying to do this,” Kitchens said of the organization’s work.
Trainers Heather Wilkerson, Derek Blair and Susan Shemwell visited the WKU campus last week to train and certify six WKU employees in Military Student Services and Kelly Autism Program who are serving as CanDoo’s handlers.
Students can visit CanDoo at the Military Student Services Office in Tate Page Hall 408. For information on times, call Teresa Jameson at (270) 745-2180. Students also may see CanDoo around campus as he will be making classroom visits with his handlers.
Contact: Tonya Archey, (270) 745-5837; or Dr. Marty Boman, (270) 745-8833.