therapy dog looking at camera with owner
UTPB students will soon be able to take full advantage of having a therapy dog on campus

Meet UTPB’s new therapy dog in training, Ghost!

Ghost is a 7-month-old Husky. He is currently learning how to be a good boy by taking basic manners classes. In a few months, Ghost will take a test for the AKC's Canine Good Citizen certification. From there, he’ll be able to test for his therapy dog certification through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs after he turns a year old in July.

Ghost’s owner is J.C. Ausmus, an Assistant Professor of Counseling in the College of Education and the Interim Director of University Mental Health and Wellness.

ghost-therapy-dog.jpg“When I got Ghost, he wasn't supposed to be a therapy dog, just an emotional support animal (ESA). I struggle with severe anxiety myself and have had an ESA since I was 17 but lost my ESA, Goggles, in April. The people closest to me realized that once I lost Goggles, my anxiety seemed to take an uptick, and my parents worked to surprise me with Ghost when I went back to Kentucky over Thanksgiving break. Corey Benson, UTPB’s Dean of Students, called me when he heard about Ghost and asked if I'd be willing to have him trained to be the counseling center's therapy dog, and now here we are!”

UTPB students will soon be able to take full advantage of having a therapy dog on campus. Ausmus explains that animals have overwhelmingly positive benefits for mental health and hopes that students won’t hesitate to stop and pet him when they see him around campus.

We hope to incorporate Ghost into the counseling center full-time once he has completed his training and receives his certification. Right now, we're just taking him around campus, letting him get his face out there, and meeting the people. I try to bring him with me to teach my classes at least once a week, so you will definitely see him running around the 3rd or 4th floor of Mesa!”