Library Forum Focuses on Service Dog's Calming Companionship

Published 10.22.2013

Faculty & Staff

Alfred M. Thomas II and JesseAn article in the Fall 2013 issue of One College Avenue magazine, which prompted Tuesday's library forum, is displayed on a table of resources.Two friends settle in for an afternoon chat.Soothing camaraderie formed the gentle heart of Tuesday's Fall Forum in Madigan Library, where a 17-year Penn College faculty member shared the spotlight with the border collie that keeps his postwar anxiety in check. “Not All Disabilities Are Visible” featured Alfred M. Thomas II, a Vietnam veteran and associate professor of collision repair in the School of Transportation & Natural Resources Technologies, and his service dog, Jesse. The well-attended session, held in the library's second-floor reading loft, afforded the audience a rare opportunity to interact with a working animal. The dog remained at Thomas's feet for much of the informal presentation, but circled the room a few times to satisfy his curiosity and assess any perceived threats. The hourlong talk included ample time for Q&A, covering a freewheeling range of topics that included Thomas's training of similar dogs to help other veterans, his "made in heaven" 40-year marriage, public misunderstanding of PTSD, organic farming (among the presenter's eclectic interests), and the gift of his children and grandchildren.