NAIT dogged by caring canine
It’s a “ruff” job but someone’s got to do it. Flynn, an Australian Labradoodle, is NAIT’s assisted therapy dog.
Since September 2013, Flynn has worked with NAIT's Counselling centre, where staff and students can drop in to see him, or catch him roaming the halls with Linda Shaw, his owner and trainer, as well as a registered nurse and health services supervisor.
“People come and sit, pet him and you can almost see the change in their faces,” Shaw says.
She sees Flynn as one piece of the mental health and wellness puzzle at NAIT. Research suggests animal-assisted therapy improves self-esteem and mood, reduces anxiety and stress, and provides physical comfort.
Here’s how Flynn qualifies for the role of Ambassador of Paws-itivity.
Where can you find Flynn?
Flynn, NAIT's therapy dog, makes his way across NAIT campuses throughout the year, including January, the polytechnic's mental health awareness month. From now through May 2023, you can find him on certain days, times and places by checking the schedule below.
Check the schedule (pdf)
Flynn's 'canine' vitae
D.O.B: April 9, 2013
Hometown: Blackie, Alberta
Current address: South Edmonton
Employment history: NAIT
Career objective: Relieve stress and calm students and staff
Certified by Chimo Animal Assisted Therapy, an Edmonton-based organization that helps develop, plan and implement animal-assisted therapy programs
Clicker training - training (for sitting, staying, etc.) by positive reinforcement. A click is associated with an action then a reward
Desensitization training – training, also using rewards, to react positively to triggers that would normally cause fear or anxiety
Successful puppy temperament assessment
- Calming, relaxing and de-stressing clients
- Outgoing, dedicated and confident
- Works well in group or individual settings
- Sign language
- Chasing balls
- Catching balls
- Playing in snow
- Eating. Favourite foods: dehydrated liver, beef broth ice cubes, peanut butter, bananas, apples and carrots
This article has been updated. It was originally publish Oct. 11, 2016.