College students help train future service dogs at Mississippi State

Puppies with a Purpose is a campus organization affiliated with the Guide Dog Foundation.

MISSISSIPPI STATE, Miss. (WCBI) – College students are helping train future service dogs at Mississippi State University.

Puppies with a Purpose is a campus organization affiliated with the Guide Dog Foundation.

The organization allows students to train dogs in basic commands and help them socialize in different environments. After anywhere from 8 weeks to 14 months, the dogs return to New York to the Guide Dog Foundation to receive their formal training.

Puppies with a Purpose President Audrey Crocker said a college setting can be beneficial for the dog’s training.

“These dogs are trained to understand college life so they are really good at settling in public places. When we go to class, they settle underneath our feet and fall asleep. It is also really good on campus for socialization purposes. There are a lot of weird things they will see here that they will not see anywhere else,” said Crocker.

Dog Raiser Kaidence Ham agreed that a college campus helps the dogs become calmer in certain situations.

“We take these guys pretty much everywhere. We want to get them socialized and desensitized to a lot of things. There are a lot of electric scooters and bikes on campus and we want to desensitize them to things like that so they are not reactive. We want them to remain neutral about everything rather than reactive,” said Ham.

The other important part of the organization is advocating for and educating the surrounding community. They aim to teach the Starkville community how to behave around guide dogs.

“We advocate for service dogs in the Starkville community and educate people on how to handle service dogs they see in public. The idea is that you are not supposed to interact with a service dog when they are in public. You are supposed to ignore them and act like they are not there so they can work efficiently. That is not something that most people know about so we work to educate our public to make sure these dogs have good access rates and people act respectfully around them,” said Ham.

You can connect with Puppies with a Purpose or learn about being a raiser through Facebook or Cowbell Connect.

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