Butler Student is able to Thrive with her Dog’s Help

Published June 7, 2018 at 12:00 pm Laura Shockley and her service dog Stryker

A service animal helps a student be able to attend classes.

Stryker attends classes at Butler Community College with his owner Laura Shockley. This German Shepard/Belgian Malinois is a little less than two years old and lies down next to Shockley in the classroom during his master’s agriculture and general education courses. Stryker is working while Shockley is in class. He’s her service dog.

Shockley, an Agriculture major, has both PTSD and a degenerative disk disorder.

“If the disk moves, I am stuck in a standing position. I can’t move,” Shockley said. “I can use Stryker to stabilize me.”

Before Stryker, Shockley’s Great Dane, Cash, 8, would come to classes with her. Shockley, who is from Eureka, Kan. has trained dogs for decades, wanted to give Cash some time off.

Cash and Stryker not only help guide and stabilize this mother of six, but the two dogs can smell if her body chemistry changes.

Shockley was trained by Frank Catania in Kansas City. Catania worked in a K-9 unit during the Vietnam War and trained service animals after he left the military. For decades, Shockley has rescued and housed hundreds of animals.

When animals are wearing a vest that says “Service Dog,” they are working. Because they are working, no one but their owner is supposed to touch or pet them. Their job is to focus on helping their owner. If the animal is distracted, he might not be able to protect his owner from medical harm.

Shockley is transferring to Kansas State University this fall. Stryker will be attending classes there as well.

“I am a bit anxious about it being such a large campus,” Shockley said. “But I know he will do well.”

Shockley has enjoyed her time at Butler. She said the students were welcoming to her and her animals. She is one of 250 students who come to Butler with some type of disability. Butler’s Disability Services department is always ready to step in and help students who have questions.

“Usually, when I tell people not to pet him they are respectful,” Shockley said. “Butler has been a great place for me.”

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