Campus Campaign brings special pooch to OU-Tulsa

Fall 2013

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Funds from the Campus Campaign were instrumental in bringing Niko, a yellow Labrador puppy, to the OU-Tulsa campus. Once he completes his training, Niko will become the first service-dog in-residence at the University.

Funds from the Campus Campaign were instrumental in bringing Niko, a yellow Labrador puppy, to the OU-Tulsa campus. Once he completes his training, Niko will become the first service-dog in-residence at the University.

With funding from this year’s Campus Campaign, the University of Oklahoma- Tulsa was able to recruit a very special student, one who is paws-itively thrilled to become a part of University life. Niko, a nine-week-old yellow Labrador retriever, took his place among fellow students during HSC’s Welcome Week earlier this semester.

The pup’s name is of Greek origin, meaning “people of victory”, fitting for an animal that can offer autonomy to individuals with conditions such as PTSD, physical disabilities and autism. Niko will take his service training from instructor Mary Isaacson, an assistant professor and academic fieldwork coordinator at OU-Tulsa.

Usually, Isaacson will place a trained service dog with an individual, but she has different plans for Niko. Once he graduates, he has a career lined up as an “adjunct” on the OU-Tulsa campus, providing an opportunity for students to learn about the benefits of service and therapy dogs in their future practices.

“We think that we’re probably the first campus ever to do this,” Isaacson said. “There may be dogs that help individual students, or dogs doing therapy before exams, but I’m not aware of anywhere else that has a dog full-time on faculty.”

Isaacson had often envisioned the benefits of having a permanent service dog as a teaching aid. Students would gain first-hand experience working with what she calls “a piece of living technology.”

The Campus Campaign is a fundraising effort by faculty, staff and retirees to support academic programs and scholarships at each of OU’s three campuses. The 2013 campaign raised over $2 million.

“One of the projects we emphasized during our Campus Campaign was the OU-Tulsa Service Dog Learning Project,” said Leah Brumbaugh, executive director of development at OU-Tulsa. “It’s just part of the spirit of giving back.”