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Four-legged Saints graduate at Carroll College

Posted at 6:46 PM, May 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-05 20:46:09-04

HELENA — On Friday evening, seven dog graduates and a cat walked across the stage at Carroll College’s Canine & a Cat Graduation Ceremony after a nine-month training program through the Anthrozoology Program.


“So, our program at the heart is really just discovering the human-animal bond. And I think as we progress as a society, our animals are becoming more of our children. And so, we really want to dive into what that means and how we're impacting animals’ lives and how they impact ours, as well,” says Canine Training Professor, Madie Brustkern.

This program gets animals more well-trained and adoptable. In the first semester, the pets work through basic obedience and passing a behavioral test. In the second semester, they are trained in a specialty field such as scent work, therapy, or service work.

Keela the dog came to the program as a puppy and was officially adopted on Friday evening.

Keela the dog.jpg

Keela’s new owner, Nathan Hicks, took her leash on Friday night. A veteran, fly fisherman, and soon-to-be double-major graduate of psychology and sociology, Hicks looks forward to many outdoor adventures with his new companion.

“You know, I graduate this semester, as well, as a nontraditional student. And Keela, in a way, is also a nontraditional student. So, she graduates today. I graduate 8 days from now. So, it felt fitting. I was looking for a travel companion to help me, you know, get outdoors and do more fly fishing, and Keela’s going to be that medium, I guess,” says Hicks.

Human graduates from the Anthrozoology program can move into various careers such as veterinary school, animal training, physical therapy, and more. For example, after Grace Carter, Senior Anthrozoology Major, graduates, she plans to continue her work with dogs.

“I am planning on working for Canine Companions, which is the service dog organization that I was talking about earlier, that Rufus is a part of. And hopefully becoming either a trainer or an early care technician to play with puppies and make sure they're on their way to becoming service dogs,” says Carter.