Let’s say you owned a place that trained service dogs. What kind of animal would you expect to be your star student? Probably a dog, right? That’s just sensical. And yet, at just such a place called Support Dogs, the stand-out pupil is actually a cat — although his name is DOG, just to make journalism even more confusing.
The St. Louis-based non-profit trains assistance dogs for people in need — meaning they teach puppers how to interact with those who have mobility issues or other difficulties. After the dogs complete a two-year training program, they’re placed (for free!) in homes that need help, or are lent to courtrooms to provide support during difficult situations.
Sounds great! So what’s with all the praise for a cat?
DOG (pronounced Dee-Oh-Gee) is a six-month-old black-and-white kitten who has one job: help acclimate the 23 doggos who are currently in support school.
“Our dogs have to be so well-behaved and not be reactive in many situations, so when a cat goes scampering in front of them and they’re in a down-stay, the command, they don’t go running after him,” President and CEO Ann Klein told ABC News. “They have to be well-behaved and not get distracted. He’ll go scampering by and they have to be good, obedient.”
And DOG knows how to administer a pop quiz. He pulls at the pups’ tails and bats at their noses — and, of course, snuggles up in their dog beds. “He rules the roost. He is the boss,” says Klein. “He’s definitely earned his keep, even though he’s a cat.”
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