Written by Logan Jones
Zoey the Comfort Dog is an important member of the Concordia University of Wisconsin (CUW) community as she continues to help students and staff cope with stress.
Zoey is a Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog who works as part of the CUW Counseling Center. She roams the halls with one of her trainers during the weekdays, putting smiles on the faces of students.
Nate Hasenstein is one of Zoey’s handlers here at CUW, and has been working with her for the past four years. Before Hasenstein was able to work with Zoey however, he first had to undergo training that would certify him to be one of Zoey’s Alphas.
“I went to train to be a handler at Lutheran Church Charities in Chicago. The training lasted an entire weekend, Friday through Sunday, and was about eight hours per day,” Hasenstein said.
According to Hasenstein, although greeting students in CUW’s halls is the most common interaction with Zoey, it is not the most important.
“Her most important job is in the counseling center, dealing with students who need extra help with difficult situations in their lives,” Hasenstein said.
According to CUW’s website, Zoey has also gone on trips to help comfort victims during tragedies. Most notably, she made trips to Baton Rouge and Orlando to comfort the victims and families of the mass shootings that occurred there.
Zoey does more than work though. According to Hasenstein, Zoey has a completely different personality when she is not wearing her work vest.
“When Zoey’s vest is on, she knows she’s working. When we take her vest off to give her a break she is very upbeat and knows she gets to play,” Hasenstein said.
CUW is now looking for a second comfort dog to accompany Zoey. This new dog will focus specifically on comforting the occupational therapy and physical therapy students.
Image taken from Zoey’s official Facebook Page @ZoeyComfortDog.