Students paws to train dogs

With cold weather setting in, students have the opportunity to spend time with a warm companion by becoming involved with Wags for Mags, a program that trains service dogs.

Students start their involvement by attending weekly training sessions at Markin Recreation Center. According to co-volunteer coordinator Kirsten Zeman, about 30 to 50 students attend.

“If you are just a Markin volunteer, you don’t have to go to every training class,” the junior biology major said. “It’s just whenever you are free. It really depends on how much you want to get involved with the organization.”

Students looking to become more involved can apply to become a student trainer. About twice a week, foster homes bring dogs to campus for the trainers to take to their daily activities.

“[The dogs] will usually come to Bradley when they are closer to being placed,” co-volunteer coordinator Leslie Zeman said. “We sometimes get the puppies that just need to be around people and get used to being in crowds, but most of the dogs are in further stages of their training.”

Kirsten has been a student trainer since her freshman year, and she said it has taught her several life lessons.

“That experience has helped bring [me] out of my shell,” Kirsten said. “It also continues to help with job searches [because] it’s something that I’m really comfortable talking about [in interviews].”

There is an application process to become a student trainer, and there are requirements to meet once accepted. Requirements include going to weekly Markin training sessions and Tuesday night training sessions and completing eight hours of on-campus training.

“There is so much interest in Wags for Mags that we can’t have everybody be a student trainer,” Leslie said. “We look for people who come to our Markin trainings. The more you come to the Markin trainings, the more likely you are to get more involved with student training.”

For more information or an application, email a coordinator at wagsvolunteercoordinator@gmail.com.

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