features

Meet Tomo and Keeva: Therapy Dogs on Campus!

Nicole Letendre ’23

Chief Features Editor

Likely you’ve come across these furry friends on campus at one time or another and can’t help but smile. After all, animals bring so much joy to the lives of countless students at their homes, and it’s fitting that our campus home is frequented by these mellow dogs, Tomo and Keeva. Tomo is a first year on campus, and Akita is turning just 11 months old on Sept. 16 and remaining in training for about two more months.  He has mastered a couple commands, such as “shake” and “high five.” He was just three months old when Kim Fontaine, Gracie’s trainer, first got him. Fontaine has spent four years at College of the Holy Cross, is the president of Animal Assistant Vet Services, has a degree in Veterinary Tech., and works overnight as a 911 dispatcher. Fontaine showed her affection towards Tomo, stating, “He is a complete goofball…just really silly. He likes to rub his face on people like a cat.” Fontaine described the process for a dog to become a therapy dog. They must first pass the Canine Good Citizen public access test and then learn their specialized task, with the entire process taking about four to six months. Tomo has a good-natured personality and loves to spend time playing; he will soon be traveling to Kansas to participate in the 2021 Akita Nationals, which is a performance-based competition. Tomo will likely go on to work in a prison as a therapy dog. On the other paw, Keeva has spent seven years as a therapy dog, and will soon retire. When I met the dogs and chatted with Ms. Fontaine, Keeva had just had her veterinary checkup! Keeva mainly does therapy work and crisis response after traumatic events. In May, she reported to the Rotunda within the U.S. Capitol while an officer was being laid in honor. Keeva works with first responders to provide comfort and stress management, as well as regarding line-of-duty deaths of firefighters and police officers in Worcester. Keeva has also worked in the school setting, from grades Pre-K all the way through to the college level. Keeva likes napping, and just like her buddy Tomo, is a very mellow dog. Tomo and Keeva will be hanging out on the Hoval every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., so be sure to stop by and say hi to these furry friends! 

Photo Courtesy of Nicole Letendre ’23

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