Hero is the Veteran Student Services Center’s facility and emotional support dog. She came to us after much research, time, and thought.
In 2013, Rebecca Chidester, an AmeriCorps intern, found articles about facility dogs helping in a military program in Colorado Springs and started researching facility animals in regards to veterans’ recovery.
There was a lot of information on the positive effects of dogs being able to comfort veterans’ emotional needs, especially with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more extensive hospital recovery.
After more research about what breed of dog would best fit our needs, it was determined that a Labradoodle would be the best fit based on their temperament, level of activity, grooming and other factors. After deciding on the breed, more research went into finding a reputable breeder and trainer.
Hero comes from Snake River Doodles, a local breeder with an outstanding reputation for providing service animals for seizure assistance. The owner of Snake River Doodles, Nicole Jorgenson, helped Todd Johnson, our director, select Hero. She was chosen for her love of people and her desire to make them happy.
According to Nicole, “Hero wanted to start giving kisses before her eyes opened. She would fall asleep for hours on her back and make us all giggle. She loved to be hauled around by the kids and was never startled or nervous about new things. She played very cautiously and gently with the baby bunnies and I knew Todd and Rebecca needed a dog to be confident, gentle, and loving I just knew she would be great for the sanctuary.”
Hero was born on May 14, 2014. She has completed a month of resident training with a service dog trainer where she learning initial etiquette training. As she grows, she does more extensive sensitivity and support training.
Hero is a facility and emotional support dog, which is different from a service dog. A service dog is trained to provide assistance and support to one specific person. A facility and emotional support dog provides support to the community.
In Hero’s case, she provides emotional support to the ISU community, especially the veterans and student service members who come to visit her in the Veteran Student Services Center. Through play, spending time with the veterans, walking, or just having the person pet her in a high anxiety or stressful time, Hero does her job around the ISU campus.
Hero’s feeding and care are supported by donation only, so any gifts to the “Hero Project” are helpful and greatly appreciated. The “Hero Project” is managed through the ISU Foundation. If you would like to contribute, you can do so online by directing a gift to The Hero Project.