Meet Flynn, NAIT's animal-assisted therapy dog
It’s a “ruff” job but someone’s got to do it. Flynn, an Australian Labradoodle, is NAIT’s new assisted therapy dog-in-training.
Since September 2013, Flynn has worked in the Main Campus health services office, 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. He also does classroom visits and may soon have a therapeutic role at the counselling centre.
“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.
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
When and where to visit Flynn
NAIT's animal-assisted therapy dog, Flynn, drops in at all four campuses - Main, Souch, Patricia and Spruce Grove - throughout the year. Check out the schedule and mark your calendars to "paws" for a break with our favourite furry friend.