Carroll College - An example of collegiate partnership
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Carroll College, Helena, Mt.

By SMI Aycock



There have been numerous times when those of us within the frame of ASCT have been asked by those outside of ASCT – why do you focus so much on collegiate contact and work?


Typically, the answer isn’t formative to those outside of ASCT because it’s more than just a simple explanation.  But the general basis of that explanation is that universities have a massive amount of availability of research that pertains to what we, as K9 trainers, use: chemistry, physics, neuroscience, biology, they all have places in K9 training.


ASCT has encouraged certified members to research and educate themselves and others regarding the expert information and science that relates to our work.


Here is an example of it being in practice:


Carroll College, Helena, Mt. is nearly 100 years old and belongs to a small, elite corps of Catholic Diocese’s. Carroll College ranks very highly as U.S. News and World Reports "One of America's Best Colleges." 


    Master Trainer Tom Brownlee has been in Montana for a number of many years. He has been training service dogs for a few years and has embraced the ASCT concept of collegiate contact. Three years ago, due to a then new American Disabilities Act addition to their Science Building, Tom approached Carroll College and asked for, and received, permission to train Service Dogs on the Campus.  Tom was alert to the possibility of assisting the college and the college assisting him.


     Meanwhile Psychology Professor Dr. Anne Perkins was putting together a Human - Animal Bond program for her Department, which was to be the first of its kind in the nation. The curriculum would cover a number of courses encompassing learning theory, benefits of animals in service, and a variety of related topics, with particular emphasis placed on canines in all manner of service from Guide Dogs to Law Enforcement K9, Etc. plus in-depth Equine studies.


      Needing example of direction, Dr. Perkins discovered Tom and asked for his help.


Dr. Perkins had to propose her program concept - and the required funding - to the Board and the faculty. Without knowing it, Tom’s service dogs were to become ambassadors for the success of the proposal. The faculty had noted Tom training his dogs, at all hours of the day, for months, and were quick to comment on the impeccable behavior and ability of the dogs. The board promptly voted to support Dr. Perkins’ program. Dr. Perkins program would entail a number of students training Service Dogs on campus.


    Once the program was underway, in 2006, Tom was contacted by Dr. Perkins and asked to be a guest lecturer at her Human- Animal Bond classes. His opportunity provided the students with a weighted measure of knowledge and also provided Tom with collegiate professionalism and advanced knowledge. Subsequently, he was invited back for another lecture, then a third, and was voted by the students as their favorite guest lecturer. Topics of the programs of Tom’s lectures included: seizure alert and response training, basic tenets of positive reinforcement training, and neuroscience, which Dr. Perkins was very well versed in.


Tom is now a regular lecturer for the program and his contribution to the program, the professor, and Carroll College itself, has been very strong.


Becoming involved with universities and the programs they offer is not easy.  It takes professionalism, dedication, and the realization that there are those out there who are experts in fields that we utilize but cannot grasp.  Making a collegiate connection or two can add a massive amount of substance to a trainer’s abilities and education.  Tom’s example is just that.  He is dedicated and hungry for knowledge.  And it pays off in dividends.






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