Flint, MI—The Disability Network’s fuzziest team member, Onyx the facility dog, recently visited Michigan State University (MSU) to provide comfort to students.
Workers at Greenline, a student call center for annual giving at MSU, like many at the university, were affected by the recent shooting on campus.
“After the tragic event that took place on February 13th, we have been looking for any ways to support our students when they return to the workplace,” said Nikki Hawthorne, Assistant Director of Annual Giving-Telemarketing. “Some of our callers returned to work the week Onyx visited, and it was great to have a sweet dog greet our student employees at the door while they entered the office.”
Onyx headed to MSU on March 1 at the request of call center leaders, according to a press release from The Disability Network, a center for independent living in Flint.
“Onyx met with students throughout the day providing companionship and calm,” the release read.
Meghan Slaght, Onyx’s handler and youth specialist for The Disability Network, explained that due to some medical issues, Onyx had been off of work as facility dog and had recently returned to his role.
“As soon as we walked into the room he went to certain students, it made me feel proud because he’s been off for so long and he didn’t forget his tasks,” Slaght said. “His tasks are to make people feel happy, to feel comfort and to feel safe. He brought joy to the environment.”
Rachel Dodds, a Greenline student, said she had been experiencing some anxiety prior to Onyx’s visit.
“But he came right up to me and made me feel so much better. You can tell he really knows what people are feeling, and he just relieves any stress someone may be experiencing. His handler was equally as amazing, and the two made a great pair.”
Onyx has been with The Disability Network for seven months. Serving alongside Slaght in high schools throughout Genesee County, his primary job is assisting youth with disabilities by providing a feeling of comfort, safety and being a non-judgmental friend.
Onyx came from Paws with a Cause (PAWS), a Michigan non-profit that custom-trains assistance and facility dogs.