Nibs is a Labrador/Golden Retriever crossbreed that was bred, raised, & trained to be a service dog by Canine Companions (canine.org). Canine Companions is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and a lifetime of support completely free of charge. Facility dogs are expertly trained dogs who partner with a facilitator working in a health care, visitation, or education setting. Canine Companions facility dogs are trustworthy in professional environments and can perform over 40 commands designed to motivate and inspire clients with special needs.
Nibs was born in California in 2011 & moved to sunny Florida at 8 weeks to be raised by a volunteer puppy raiser. At approximately 15 months of age, Nibs moved to the advanced training center in Orlando, Florida, where she received 6-9 months of continued training. She learned to perform over 40 commands, including opening doors, retrieving dropped items, & “visiting” clients by placing her head on their laps. During the 2-week participant training, Nibs was matched with Dr. Tracey Zeiner, OTD, OTR/L. Dr. Zeiner graduated as a facilitator with Nibs on Valentine’s Day, 2014.
Facilitators are working professionals responsible for handling and caring for the facility dog. Dr. Tracey Zeiner is an occupational therapist with over thirty years of clinical experience. She continues to receive annual training and support by Canine Companions and received approval to transition from full-time clinical work to academia with clinical experiences in 2016.
One of the most valued qualities of a facility dog is the unconditional love and attention she gives to the clients, patients, students, faculty, and staff with whom she interacts. Nibs is trained to provide services in many settings.
Educational setting - engage students in schools and special education classes.
Healthcare setting - activities such as grooming, feeding, and playing fetch can aid clients in medical rehabilitation and psychiatric programs.
Courtroom setting - encourages feelings of calm and security for clients in a visitation setting such as a courtroom.
- Basic commands; Florida volunteer puppy raiser; 2012-2013
- Advanced training; Canine Companions Training Center; Orlando, Florida; 2013-2014
- Teaches occupational therapy students how to utilize animals as a therapeutic intervention
- Worked with adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in an interprofessional clinic
- Worked alongside speech language pathology students, physical therapy students, and faculty in an educational outpatient clinic
- Interacted with children in a specialized reading program
- Continues to be available as a therapeutic modality in our on-campus IPE clinic.
- Participates in research related to animal-assisted activities.
- Graduated puppy raising, 2013
- Graduated advanced training, 2014
- Matched as a facility dog with occupational therapist Tracey Zeiner, February 14, 2014
Areas of Interest/Expertise
- Works well with all ages and abilities
- Detects increased levels of stress and provides support as needed