SUNY Oswego students learn from four-legged friends

OSWEGO, N.Y.–  Students at SUNY Oswego are going out and volunteering at their local animal shelter where they are learning from the shelter animals and helping spread the word about adopting them.

Canine Companions is a Human Development class offered to the students at SUNY Oswego to help them learn about how to properly care, train, and treat dogs. This class has been running since 2003 by Dave Sargent.

”We look at a lot of different training techniques from experts and DVD’s and things of that sort,” Sargent said, who has been working with dogs for over thirty years. He loves dogs so much that he came up with the idea for this class after researching what should be brought into the classroom and taught to the students. One of the many elements of this class is the required lab hours. Students are required to go to the local shelter, sign up for hours, and help either walk the dogs or help socialize the cats that are in their designated cat room.

Another part of lab hours the students are usually required but more requested to come to are when there are guest dogs days. This day usually takes place on the Wednesday opposite of the actual class time. Sargent will ask students to get the word out about guest dog day to get different people and dogs into the class room so the students can get diversity with different dogs.

Along with the students in this class, Sargent also has a teaching assistant accompany him in the classroom. Margaret Choroser, helps take attendance, organize guest dogs, and help with the lessons on different class days. She is no longer required to go to the shelter any longer but loves to stay actively participating with them to help encourage the students, and help animals at the shelter get adopted.

“I mean any chance I get I post things on social media about potential animal for adoption. I’ve helped one cat get adopted already, I’ve done photos for them to put up on their Facebook to get the word out about certain animals, and by the students putting up these pictures it’s spreading more awareness that there’s these animals that need to be adopted and are looking for a home,” Choroser said.

The shelter is not only a shelter, but also the local animal control. So, when some of these dogs come in, they may have been surrendered, left behind, or abused to the point they need to be taken away. These present different challenges with the dogs as each one has a different personality than the rest. But, these challenges also give the students a better learning experience, and the students get to help these dogs and or cats get socialized and ready for adoption.

“They get to use our people for socialization and increase possible adoption, and we get to use their dogs to observe and try out paradigms and procedures,” Sargent said.