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Meet Barklee, Public Safetys Resource Dog

06/10/2023

Meet Barklee, Public Safetys Resource Dog Working with Sergeant Felix Vicente, Barklees main job is to bring comfort and emotional support to the campus community.

By

Bryan Parys

October 6, 2023

Image by Kelly Davidson

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, Im able to do that with Barklee, says Felix Vicente, police sergeant for Public Safety and Barklee's handler. He doesnt have any police-related tasks or anything like that, he says. Its strictly emotional support.

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Read about how Kate Chuilli, Berklees first LGBTQ+ liaison officer, boosts collaboration and awareness with the campuss queer community.

Vicente likens their partnership to that of a celebrity and a bodyguard, saying its 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. Were hoping that in November of this year, hell be done, says Vicente.

Its like he's a celebrity and Im his bodyguard, Sergeant Vicente says of his bond with Barklee.

Image by Kelly Davidson

One big thing that I really want to do . . . is Barklee office hours, where students can . . . block off 15 minutes to spend with Barklee, says Sergeant Vicente.

Image by Kelly Davidson

Hes going through training, but once hes home, hes a dog, Vicente says. He knows that hes off. Hes like, Im not working, Im just gonna relax. Im gonna jump on the couch, do whatever.

Image by Kelly Davidson

I really needed to pet a dog today. Thank you for coming over, said Myranda Peterson, administrative coordinator/project assistant, Office of the President.

Image by Kelly Davidson

Once Barklees fully trained, Vicente hopes to set up office hours, where students can reserve 15-minute time slots to de-stress with Barklee whenever theyre having a tough day, feeling stressed out, or need a break from studying for an important exam.

Of course, Barklees 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 hes around, Vicente says. Hes only been positive-for us and for the school.

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