Meet Rooster: Auburn’s newest therapy dog
The therapy dogs Moose and Nessie from the student counseling and psychological services are adding a new four-legged friend to their crew. Rooster, a six-year-old black Labrador Retriever, is in training to become one of the next therapy dogs on campus.
Before joining Student Counseling and Psychological Services, Rooster was part of Auburn’s Canine Performance Sciences (CPS) program at the College of Veterinary Medicine.
According to Rooster Counseling and Mental Health Services psychologist and caretaker, Sarah Schwartz, during his time at CPS, Rooster participated in several detection projects where he learned to recognize various chemical and biological threats.
Rooster was also part of a program that teaches inmates how to train dogs. Upon completion of a dog grooming curriculum, inmates’ experience will count toward an associate’s degree.
Rooster was recently trained to undergo functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Schwartz noted that getting dogs to do this was extremely difficult.
The fMRI project studied the bonding between dogs and humans. Each dog spent several weeks paired with a human, and then the humans and dogs were scanned while being shown pictures and videos of their partner.
“He would actually fall asleep in the scanner,” Schwartz said. “He was one of the best”
Rooster is now concentrating on his new task with student counseling and the psychological service.
His therapy dog training is at Canine Good Citizen through the American Kennel Club and Therapy Dog International. Through these programs, Rooster will improve his obedience skills and “tricks” and help him be attentive to the needs of those around him.
Once trained, Rooster will be busy all day, just like full-time employees.
“Rooster will be involved in individual and group therapy sessions, offering direct and indirect therapeutic interventions, e.g. “Like, mindfully petting him or creating a narration about past experiences and drawing him into the story,” Schwartz said. “He will also be involved in outreach opportunities across campus.”
Outreach opportunities include tabling events held indoors or with campus departments, classroom presentations, and Get Mov’in, a weekly outdoor walking program hosted by college counseling and mental health services. Rooster will also help Schwartz train students and staff in animal-assisted therapy.
During his free time away from the office, Hahn is busy with his toys, especially his treat ball.
“He also enjoys a good cuddle and tummy rub,” Schwartz said. “He firmly believes that there is nothing that a stomach massage cannot fix. Lately he enjoys his afternoon walks around campus to say hello to the students.”
If you see Rooster out and about, chances are he’s sporting his red and black bone to show off. Schwartz encourages individuals to stop to greet Rooster – and don’t be surprised if he approaches you first.
Schwartz says Rooster’s favorite thing about walks is looking for someone empty-handed.
“He runs right over and asks about pets since their hands are obviously not busy,” Schwartz said.
Students and campus departments are welcome to schedule an appointment with Rooster. Further information can be found on the pages of the Student Advisory Service and Psychological Services.