Scooter and Dr. Shana Markle will be leaving Butler on Sept. 15. Photo by Natalie Goo.
LILY O’CONNOR | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
Scooter, one of the campus therapy dogs, will be saying farewell to Butler on Sept. 15. Scooter and his handler, Dr. Shana Markle, the associate director of Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS), will be leaving Butler to pursue her private psychology practice full time.
On Sept. 8, Scooter and Markle hosted their last event on campus, Scooter’s goodbye party. Many students stopped by Star Fountain to hang out with Scooter one last time. Members of CCS and the other therapy dogs joined Scooter at his party.
“Scooter’s going to miss walking around campus and eating pizza crusts and other things he finds on the ground,” Markle said. “He’s gonna miss walking in the woods behind the [Health and Recreation Complex] and walking over to Starbucks for pup cups.”
Scooter, a 5-year-old Cavachon, was the university’s first therapy dog. Markle adopted him in 2018 at 8 weeks old and then enrolled him in the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program to get his therapy dog certification when he turned 1. Scooter also received the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Certification and passed the Alpha K9 University Advanced Obedience Test. Scooter was then able to begin his career as a therapy dog for Butler’s Animal Assisted Therapy Program in 2019.
“It is pretty standard that [dogs] need to have gone through the Canine Good Citizen Test,” Markle said. “[The test] is often just basic manners for dogs to see if they’re able to sit, stay calm or accept a friendly stranger who wants to come pet them.”
Markle has been an employee at Butler for almost 15 years. She started her private counseling practice in the summer of 2020 because she was uncertain what would happen to her job at Butler amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, she and Scooter have worked part time at the private practice while still working full time at Butler.
“I used [the pandemic] as an opportunity to make a part-time private practice,” Markle said. “I’ve decided that it’s time to pursue that full time, so [Scooter] will have to take his therapy dog skills to my private practice.”
For the past four school years, Scooter has served the student population through events on campus, therapy appointments with Markle and the CCS dog support group, Scooter and Friends, which will now be called Dogtor Hours.
One of the many students that attended Scooter’s goodbye party was sophomore elementary education major Abby Harvish. Scooter helped ease her transition to college and adjustment to being away from her own dog.
“I have a dog at home, and I miss her like crazy, and having [the dogs] here is a great reminder of her, which is always nice,” Harvish said. “I also feel like it’s just a great, different alternative for therapy.”
According to Markle, Scooter has made a huge impact on campus. He draws students in and introduces them to CCS, as well as directly boosting their mood, which improves students’ overall mental health.
“Every year we get calls from parents who are worried about their children and then don’t know how to help get them connected to counseling,” Markle said. “When they find out that we have a dog here, then they say, ‘Oh, they may not come just for counseling, but they’ll come to see the dog.’”
Last year, Butler’s Animal Assisted Therapy Program expanded to also include Bella, an 8-year-old English bulldog. The newest addition, Lilo, a 7-year-old Shih Tzu and Chihuahua mix, will complete the CGC program and be able to serve Butler students later this year. Bella’s handler, Dr. Christine Kiray, psychologist and current assistant director of CCS, will be taking over Markle’s position of associate director of CCS this school year. Kiray came up with the idea for a therapy dog program at Butler as a doctoral intern and is excited to continue Scooter’s legacy with her own dog.
“Yeah, it’s gonna be a huge loss both with — obviously — Scooter but then also Shana as well,” Kiray said. “There will be a big gap left by them, so Bella will do her best to fill Scooter’s shoes, and I will do my best to fill Shana’s shoes, but it really isn’t possible. They both have left a huge mark on this place.”