Apr 172012

Bullet has been a little out of control lately.

The four-year-old Golden Retriever and therapy dog “generally functions well,” said his owner Amy Christen, but once he gets on a leash, walking can get “pretty hectic.”

“He’s pulling us around and telling us where to go,” Christen said. “We just need some tips to help him be happier.”

Christen was at the CSU Pathology building Saturday morning hoping to get just that –– help and insight on how to train Bullet.

The CSU Veterinary Behavior Club sponsored a free symposium for pet owners like Christen, offering a chance for the public to learn about animal behavior from CSU professors and clinicians.

Three lectures included shaping the behavior you want, fun travel with your pets to the vet and dog leash reactivity.

Behavior Club president and third-year veterinary medicine student Heather Kihara said one of the goals of the club is to educate people and increase awareness of ways to improve the human/animal bond. Kihara said better behaved animals are more likely to stay with a family.

“Increasing good behavior makes someone’s pet a better community member because they really are members of the community,” Kihara said.

Dr. Dean Hendrickson, director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital said he believes the VTH plays a vital role in both the community and the university. From surgery to research to medicine, the hospital provides an opportunity for students to learn different aspects of veterinary medicine.

The community also benefits from advanced veterinary care that may not be available in other cities.

“We have the opportunity to have a very large number of specialists and diagnostic capabilities,” Hendrickson said. “This in turn provides a lot of opportunities and options for clients and their animals.”

Hendrickson said the student clubs offer “great integration” into the community with the wide range of outreach programs that vet students participate in.

“When we take excellent care of our clients and community, we are successful in our mission statement,” he added.

Not only does the VTH hold events on campus, but it also has programs where students are out in the community improving the lives of animals.

Every other week, third-year vet student Wendy Herliehy is at the Animal House Canine Shelter with her classmates as part of the Behavior Club’s “Manners for Mutts” program. This program allows students to gain hands-on experience with training animals.

Using a clicker training device, the students work with shelter dogs to improve manners so they are more likely to be adopted and stay in a loving home. Focus areas include walking on a leash, training the dogs not to jump and how to sit and make eye contact with people to help them get adopted.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Herliehy said. “Students get to put what they learn in the classroom to use and help dogs get into homes.”

Another ongoing program within the VTH, the Pet Hospice Program, has student volunteers going into the homes of people with terminally ill pets. Volunteers offer advice to owners on how to provide their pet with a safe, comfortable environment at home during their final days or weeks.

They also provide emotional support and information to help the family make difficult medical decisions about their pet’s well-being.

“It is an honor to help these pets and their families during difficult times,” said veterinary medicine student and hospice volunteer Talia Agone. “It is also a great learning experience for veterinary students.”

This wide range of programs is one of the reasons CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is ranked number three in the country by Us News and World Report.

Clinical coordinator for community practice and Behavior Club Advisor Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie said that an incredibly supportive faculty and pro-active student body also factors into the high ranking.

“We have an incredible student body,” Dr. Ruch-Gallie said. “Most of the time it’s a student that has an idea for a new program that approaches me to see if we can do something to implement it.”

Collegian writer Austin Briggs can be reached at news@collegian.com.

What’s coming up from CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital?

What: Fast and Furriest 5k walk/run
When/Where: 9 a.m Saturday, April 28th at the CSU Oval
Animals: Participants are encouraged to bring well behaved lizards, ducks, goats, dogs and any animal less than 500 pounds
Registration: Preregistration is available online at runningguru.com, or at the local Foot of the Rockies and Runner’s Roost stores. Preregistration is $25. Race day registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and will be $30

What: Free eye exams for service dogs
When/where: Friday, May 4 from 9:30 a.m to 3 p.m at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 300 W. Drake
Registration: Owners must first register at www.acvoeyeexam.org. Registration is open until April 30. Once registered online, the owner will be assigned a number and should then contact the VTH at (970) 297-4136 with the registration number to schedule the exam.

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