Future service dog receives special training at College of Pharmacy

May 24, 2018

Natalie and Mazey
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No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you – that was a dog walking past you on the first floor of Parks Hall. But don’t worry, the dogs that you may sometimes see in the building are here studying, just like our students!

Natalie Koeritzer, a recent Ohio State graduate and student assistant to Tami Boldman, the College of Pharmacy’s Facilities Service Manager, is a handler for the 4 Paws For Ability student organization. As such, Koeritzer has been training service dogs for the past three years, and is normally seen walking through Parks Hall with her trainees.

Amaze, also known as Mazey, was Koeritzer’s most recent trainee and likely a familiar face to those in the building often. Koeritzer was Mazey’s handler since the dog was 10 weeks old. As Mazey’s handler, Koeritzer socialized her trainee by taking Mazey everywhere with her, including class, work at Parks Hall, and even her mother’s elementary school classroom to get more comfortable with children.

“Having Mazey and other service dogs around the building has made a positive impact on the college,” Boldman said. “She makes people smile and brightens up their day.”

Mazey finished her basic training at the end of May and will now move onto advanced training and will be one step closer to becoming a full-time service dog.

While we won’t see Mazey around Parks Hall anymore, it’s possible more service dogs in training will be walking the halls. Service dogs are identifiable by the vests they wear, which are normally red or orange. Currently, there are more than 30 dogs on campus thanks to the 4 Paws organization, and Koeritzer gave some special advice in case you run into them.

“When you see a service animal, it’s important to act calm and follow the handler’s lead,” Koeritzer said. “Use a normal voice, make sure you’re not distracting the dog from their training, and check before giving them pets or treats.”

On reflecting with her time at the college, Koeritzer feels that Mazey benefited greatly from her interactions with people in Parks Hall.

 “I’ve really enjoyed my time working in the College of Pharmacy and Mazey has too,” Koeritzer said. “Everyone has been so helpful and welcoming. I know Mazey is ready to graduate and help kids because of the love and care she received in Parks Hall.”

Founded in 1998, 4 Paws For Ability is a service dog organization based out of Xenia, Ohio. Their mission is to place quality service dogs with children with disabilities and with veterans who have lost the use of their limbs or hearing. The organization helps with animal rescue, and provides education on the use of service dogs in public places. In the past ten years, 4 Paws has placed more than 100 service dogs with children and veterans around the United States.