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Library Forum Focuses on Service Dog’s Calming Companionship


Alfred M. Thomas II and Jesse
Alfred M. Thomas II and Jesse
An article in the Fall 2013 issue of One College Avenue magazine, which prompted Tuesday's library forum, is displayed on a table of resources.
An 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.
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.

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