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Viking Pup Graduate

A young woman and the dog she's been training since the Fall graduated from Augustana College yesterday. Sarah Adam received her diploma with her service dog-in-training, Bobo.

While attending classes since September, Adam has been a foster caregiver for Bobo. Adam says helping to train the two-year-old Labrador retriever has been one of her most memorable experiences in college, but also one of the most difficult.

"I've loved every minute of it," said Adam. "Obviously it's a lot of work, and a lot of time commitment, because the dog is always with you. I think people think of it as just, 'Fun, you get to play with the dog all the time.' And it is ocassionally. It's not that it's always work, but everything that you do revolves around making sure that the dog gets the training that he needs."

Bobo is now a graduate from the Viking Pups program, a club founded in 2011 at Augustana. In the coming months, he'll become a full-time service dog for a high school student in Davenport with the developmental disorder, William's Syndrome.

"We joke that Bo is our 'Lazy Boy'," says Adam. "A lot of our dogs really love working, and want to learn new things and do more. But Bo just wants to cuddle and lay with the people he's with. Which is perfect because his client really needs that emotional support. So he works perfectly for his client. But for us, sometimes he's just goofy and stubborn. He's very unique. Definitely different than the other dogs that I've worked with."

In the fall, Adam will begin graduate school at Washington University in Saint Louis for occupational therapy. And she plans on doing research on animal-assisted therapy.

Bobo is the second dog placed by the Viking Pups program since it began. There are currently three dogs being trained on campus by twenty volunteers.