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Siggy, an English cream golden retriever, sits on a checkered black and white floor wearing a harness.

Siggy is an English cream golden retriever who works as a community resource K-9 at Quinsigamond Community College in Massachusetts.

Quinsigamond Community College

Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, Mass., now offers students the opportunity to connect with a community resource officer, but this one has four legs and a fluffy golden tail.

Meet Siggy, the college’s 4-month-old English cream golden retriever and one more tool in the toolbox for supporting student success. Siggy works alongside Community Resource Officer Nicholas Yacuzzi in supporting the campus community and providing a destressing technique for learners.

The background: There are lots of dogs on college campuses, from service dogs to therapy dogs, comfort dogs and facility dogs.

Community resource officers provide education to the community including safety and crime prevention. As a community resource dog, Siggy (a play on the word “Quinsigamond”) partners with QCC’s community resource officer to respond to incident calls and engage the campus community.

Siggy’s handler, Yacuzzi, was inspired to add a dog to the force after watching other resource officers partner with dogs to build relationships with people who may be hesitant to engage with police.

Different Breeds of Service

What’s the difference between the different jobs that dogs hold on college campuses?

  • A therapy dog is trained to provide comfort and care to a person, typically in a clinical setting. A comfort dog or wellness dog provides the same types of care but does not have the same level of training.
  • Some students have their own emotional support dog for mental health reasons, which is based not on the dog’s abilities but on the student’s needs.
  • A service dog has specialized training to assist a person with a disability with daily living. Service dogs are allowed special access privileges in public places, including college campuses.
  • A facility dog receives similar training to a service dog but works along one staff member in a larger setting, such as a courthouse, school, counseling center or hospital.

A dog in the life: Siggy joins a number of resource dogs at institutions across the Boston area, including Cooper at Northeastern University, Ruggles at Salve Regina University, Beacon at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the newly introduced Bean at Boston University.

Siggy is in training with Golden Opportunities for Independence, a group that specializes in training dogs for service areas like schools and health-care facilities. The group trained Roger at Babson University, who is also an English cream golden retriever. Siggy attends trainings four days a week.

To effectively do his job, Siggy must be calm and confident in all settings, so he’s learning to navigate large crowds. He also knows basic behavioral commands and will be trained in search and rescue, as well.

Siggy performs a command with his officer

Siggy can follow basic behavioral commands. Once he finishes training, he’ll be equipped to respond to students in crisis and assist in search and rescue missions.

Quinsigamond Community College

Once he completes training, Siggy will work on campus five days a week, Monday through Friday, attending events, responding to calls and also holding office hours for people to drop in if they need some comfort from a canine friend. Since starting, Siggy has already helped one student who was having a panic attack.

“Over all, the reception of Siggy is amazing,” Yacuzzi says. “Whenever I am walking around and do not have Siggy with me, the first question anyone asks is ‘Where is Siggy?’”

QCC does not have current plans to add another community resource dog, but “we always will welcome the opportunity to expand our K-9 unit,” says Police Chief Stephen DiGiovanni.

Does your college use animals to engage with the campus community? Tell us about it.

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