Meet Barklee, Public Safety's Resource Dog
Petting an animal, such as Barklee, Berklee’s new resource dog, couldn’t be further from the demands of mid-terms or late-night rehearsals—and that’s kind of the point.
“College is hard, so being able to provide some comfort to students, kind of a home away from home, I'm able to do that with Barklee," says Felix Vicente, police sergeant for Public Safety and Barklee’s handler. “He doesn't have any police-related tasks or anything like that,” he says. “It's strictly emotional support.”
Vicente likens their partnership to that of a celebrity and a bodyguard, saying it's not uncommon for prospective students to be aware of Barklee before learning other details about the school.
While the idea of a therapy animal visiting a school during high-stress periods of the semester isn’t new, more and more institutions are integrating resource animals into their communities full-time, particularly as part of the public safety team. As Inside Higher Ed reports, “Working alongside campus safety officers, comfort dogs provide stress relief, emotional support and positive interactions between officers and community members.”
Currently, Barklee still has his own degree to earn, as he’s working through obedience training as well as the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program. “He has to go through a vigorous stage of tasks to be certified as a therapy dog. We're hoping that in November of this year, he'll be done,” says Vicente.
Once Barklee's fully trained, Vicente hopes to set up "office hours," where students can reserve 15-minute time slots to de-stress with Barklee whenever they're having a tough day, feeling stressed out, or need a break from studying for an important exam.
Of course, Barklee's role extends beyond just helping students. Vicente knows that having a dog by his side not only makes people feel safe but also makes him more approachable.
"Everybody knows Barklee. Everybody enjoys it when he's around," Vicente says. "He's only been positive—for us and for the school.”