Dog majors in service

Author: Malcolm McDowell Woods

Published Date: 9/21/2017

Categories: Animal Behavior F1RST Fall 2017 F1RST Magazine

Kia is a good dog

Student finds Carroll's campus wide open to her service dog

The time Kia had a slight outburst on the first day of class could have been a problem. The Carroll  Compact holds students to a pretty high standard of behavior—and barking in a biology class, while not specifically mentioned in the compact, would seem to deviate from that standard.

Monica Heath-Brost was horrified. Kia is her service dog and is also held to a high standard. Heath-Brost immediately asked to be excused and took the dog outside to get it refocused. “Really, a service dog should be almost invisible,” said Heath-Brost. “When she is on campus with me, she is working and needs to remain focused on her job.”

Heath-Brost, a third-year student majoring in animal behavior, transferred to Carroll from another university, unsure of how Kia would be received. “When I got a service dog, I expected a lot of doors to be closed to me. But from the very beginning, Carroll has been a totally different experience from my previous college. It’s been so welcoming here.” Indeed, the professor in that first class welcomed Heath-Brost and Kia back in and allowed her to speak to her classmates about service dogs.

Navigating student life is difficult enough, but finding your way with a service dog by your side can be even more challenging. Kia, a German shepherd husky mix, has been trained to help Heath-Brost deal with a variety of medical issues and is her constant companion. Still, a dog on campus is an unusual enough sight that it attracts attention.

“When I applied to Carroll, I was scared I wouldn’t get in. But immediately, I had no lack of help. All of my professors have been so helpful and encouraging and the students have been great, too. I’ve had them educate others about the need to ignore Kia.

“It’s been phenomenal here, the answer has never been no, it’s always let’s make it work.”

Heath-Brost says the experience she has had at Carroll has changed her life and expanded her dreams. “In the past, I expected to hear, ‘no, that’s not doable with a dog at your side.’ There had been things I was passionate about, but thought there was just no way I’d ever do them. Now I’m realizing that I’m not limited like I thought I was.”

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