Wilkes faculty of practice in education Tracy Kaster and her husband, Lt. Col. Mark Kaster, director of veterans affairs, adopted Ace two years ago when he was placed in the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue. But now it seems Ace is the one who is saving members of the campus community from stress as an emotional support dog. Ace frequents campus, snagging treats and snuggles from students.
Name, age and breed of dog:
Ace is a rescue, so, based on his teeth, he was three when we adopted him, so he is approximately five now. He is a golden retriever.
How did you come up with his name?
Ace is a rescue from Puerto Rico. He came with the name Aquilles, so we changed it to Ace since our last Golden retriever’s name was Chief (after my father-in-law who was a chief in the Navy). So Ace made sense.
Where did you rescue Ace from?
An interesting side note is that we adopted from Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (DVGRR), an animal shelter outside of Reading, Pa., that specifically rescues golden retrievers, labs and doodles from area puppy mills as well as from Puerto Rico, Turkey, South Korea and from parts of the United States that suffered from recent hurricanes such as Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. Dogs range in age from puppy to senior and the shelter has an extensive adoption process where they match the dogs to a potential owner and even provide monthly meet-and-greets where the public can come and meet the dogs. We went through the process and met Ace at a meet-and-greet and he was totally in love with all of us, but he went to another family. Needless to say we were heartbroken, but after a month, I received a phone call stating Ace was available for adoption due to an allergy in the family, so he came to us.
Does your dog have any special training?
Ace is registered as an emotional support dog and we plan to eventually get him certified as a therapy dog. Ace is naturally a calm dog and makes people feel happy when they can sit and pet him, so he is a natural therapy for everyone.
What is dog’s favorite spot on campus?
Ace enjoys going to my office and attending class with me from time to time.
What is your and your dog’s favorite thing to do at Wilkes
Ace loves to go for walks around the greenway and on some days take a stroll to Kirby Park!
What is the most pet friendly thing about Wilkes?
I would say Ace loves the new gateway with its wide sidewalks as well as places to sit and relax. He also loves how friendly the students are at Wilkes and the smiles he brings to their faces.
Do you bring your Ace to campus, your office or to class? How do students react?
Ace comes to campus one to two times a week-weather depending! He comes to my office (in Breiseth Hall) where he is spoiled with treats as well as lots of back rubs and hugs from everyone in the education department as well as from students who are passing by. He will also come to class with me and the students love it when he does. Prior to midterms, a student from one of my classes emailed me and asked me to please bring Ace to help her “de-stress” since she was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Ace also goes with me to Heights-Murray Elementary where our Professional Development School (PDS) is located. Ace is allowed into various classrooms and is quite a celebrity. He brightens the day for students as well as teachers when they see him and pet him. Many times student’s attitudes and emotions will change when they spend a little time with him. I have seen many tears turn into smiles in a matter of seconds.
What is your dog’s favorite treat?
Ace likes pretty much anything and everything, but cheese and peanut butter treats are particularly his favorite.