Doc - CSUCI therapy dogCamarillo, Calif., Nov. 21, 2018— CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) President Erika D. Beck will host a welcome ceremony for the university’s first therapy dog at 2 p.m., Monday, Nov. 26 in the East Bell Tower courtyard.

The guest of honor is a five-year old yellow Labrador retriever is named “Doc” after renowned reconstructive and plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Grossman, who established the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks.

Doc is the first member of a campus therapy dog and veterans’ service dog program made possible through a generous gift from the Dr. Richard Grossman Community Foundation. The $220,000 donation will allow CSUCI students to benefit from two campus therapy dogs and for five student veterans with post-traumatic stress to receive individual service dogs.

“We are so grateful to have Doc as part of our campus community,” Beck said. “He provides a calming presence that helps our student veterans tremendously as they work toward attaining their educational goals.”

Elizabeth Rice Grossman, a friend to CSUCI, presented the university with the gift in the spring, with $150,000 designated for various services and programs offered to CSUCI student veterans and $50,000 for a service dog program for veterans with post-traumatic stress.

The remaining $20,000 is going towards procuring and training Doc as well as one other campus therapy dog who will arrive sometime in the future. His or her name will be “Lon” after Lon Morton, who served on both the CSUCI Foundation Board and the Dr. Richard Grossman Community Foundation Board.

Doc was trained through the San Luis Obispo-based service dog training facility, New Life K-9s. The dogs who will follow in his paw prints will also be trained there.

New Life K-9 staff also chose among five CSUCI staff applicants who offered to act as handler for Doc and keep him at their home on nights and weekends. The winner was Assistive Technology Specialist Jerry Garcia, who has a yard and a family with young kids who love to pet Doc.

“He’s pretty easygoing and calm,” Garcia said. “He likes to go for walks and sniff around.”

Doc has been spending his days working at the CSUCI Veterans Affairs office, where his job is to nap on the floor, greet potential ear-scratchers and huggers, and be available for a spontaneous game with any willing participant.

“He loves tug toys,” said Assistant Director for CSUCI’s Veterans Affairs Program, Jay Derrico. “He’s available to any age and he likes being hugged on by anybody who will hug him.”

Although Doc has been on campus just a couple of weeks, he has already helped numerous visitors, including one student who overcame her fear of dogs by spending time with Doc.

Doc was able to calm another visitor who had test jitters. 

“Another student came in and said ‘I’ve got five minutes before my midterm and I need to spend those five minutes with Doc,’” Derrico said. “She came back and said she had a really good feeling going into her midterm and that feeling stayed with her.”

Plans are underway for the other therapy dog and the five service dogs, but Derrico said details are still being worked out. There are also plans for Doc to visit other programs on campus.

To learn more about the CSUCI Veterans Affairs Program, visit: https://www.csuci.edu/veterans/.