About Buckeye Paws
Buckeye Paws was initiated in March 2020, with the mission of supporting the mental and emotional health of staff at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center through highly trained, certified therapy dog-handler teams.
Due to the success of the program and support from President Kristina M. Johnson and the Buckeye Paws Advisory Board, in March 2022, Buckeye Paws announced their expansion to provide therapy dog assistance to students, faculty and staff of The Ohio State University.
The dogs of Buckeye Paws are certified through Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD).
Meet the Team
BrienneBrienne is a Yellow Labrador Retriever named after Brienne of Tarth, a Game of Thrones character. Brienne was born January 21, 2017. Her best friend is her fur brother, Henry, and her favorite treat is pineapple. Brienne’s handler is Beth.
EllieEllie is a German Shepherd. She was born April 20, 2013. Ellie’s hobbies include playing ball and swimming in the creek with her fur family Tucker, Cassie and Jewellz. Ellie was a gift from Guide Dogs of America to handler, Emily, to aid in her recovery after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. Ellie’s therapy dog career technically began at 8 weeks old!
RadarRadar is a Labrador Retriever. He was born on July 23, 2014. Radar’s hobbies include camping, taking long walks and spending time with his family. Radar’s favorite toys are deer antlers and his best friend is Mattis K9 from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Radar’s handler is ReNea.
ShilohShiloh is an English Cream Golden Retriever. He was born September 3, 2017. Shiloh’s best friends are his fur brother, Grady, and cat, Izzy. Although he isn’t sure Izzy likes him. Shiloh’s favorite toy is his Billie bear and his special talent is that he can do an Elvis impersonation! Shiloh’s handler is Mary.
EllieEllie is a Border Collie mixed breed. She was born on February 19, 2015. Ellie was adopted at 8 weeks old from Sierra’s Haven for New and Used Pets in Portsmouth, OH. She was one of 14 puppies in her litter. She will retrieve her Kong or catch a Frisbee all day long. She loves running along the beach and chasing birds. At the end of the day, her favorite thing to do is be next to her humans. Ellie’s handler is Judy.
AshbyAshby is a sweet and gentle Golden Retriever. He was born on August 3, 2016 in California and moved to Columbus, Ohio when he was 3 months old. He was named after Ashby Lake in Ontario, Canada, where he enjoys going to vacation at his family's cottage - he loves to swim and play fetch in the water! His favorite toy is his green snake. He absolutely loves all humans and dogs and is in heaven when he gets to cuddle and be petted. Ashby’s handlers are Sharon and Brian.
CharminCharmin is a Great Pyrenees/Shepherd mix. She was born on February 6, 2020. Charmin was rescued from a high-kill shelter in southern Ohio in March of 2020 and at the start of the pandemic (hence the name Charmin!). She and three other littermates were dropped off at just 7 weeks old and were luckily brought to Columbus by Colony Cats & Dogs rescue. Charmin now lives with two fur sisters and enjoys trying to get them to play with her non-stop. She truly loves everybody and everything – except maybe baths! Charmin’s handler is Beth.
RockyRocky is a Boxer. Rocky had a difficult upbringing in an abusive home. He was rescued by Canine Castaways in Indiana and was adopted by his handler, Jeannette, on March 13, 2019. Rocky loves his squeaky balls, running with his mom and snuggling with his sister, Raven. Rocky’s handler is Jeannette.
HudsonHudson Hetzel-Hausmann is a Golden Retriever. He was born on November 9, 2018. Hudson’s favorite activity is fetch, he can retrieve his ball all day long! He would do anything for a puppuccino from Starbucks. Whether it’s flying to Miami Beach to dig in the sand or burying himself in piles of Ohio snow, Hudson is always down for an adventure! Hudson’s handlers are Gabby and Jake.
AnnieAnnie (Golden Dancing Annie of Sunbury) is a Havanese. She was born on February 3, 2015. Annie has a laid back personality. She loves people and seems to have a sixth sense about them. She will do a turnaround dance if there are treats involved! Annie’s handler is Mary.
ZiggyZiggy is a Goldendoodle. He was born on June 19, 2016. Ziggy loves to play ball, go for walks and run with any dog that is able to keep up with him. He also likes to steal flip flops and take them into the backyard so that someone will chase him! Ziggy’s handler is Mandy.
CooperCooper is a F2 Goldendoodle. He was born on April 20, 2020. Cooper loves riding the car, especially going through drive thrus because he knows all the places that will give him treats! He doesn’t understand how big he is and loves to sit on your lap. Cooper’s handler is Jen.
McDuffMcDuff is a Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever cross. He was born on April 29, 2016. Originally born into the Canine Companions for Independence assistance dog program, McDuff had a change of career in 2018 and was adopted to become a pet dog and therapy dog on the side. McDuff loves to help out in the kitchen by picking up crumbs and using his "push" command to close cabinet doors and drawers. His favorite toy is his Kong (filled with food) and his favorite activity is "zooming" around the yard with his dog friends. McDuff’s handlers are Morgan and Keith.
CascadeCascade is a Greyhound. She was born on November 15, 2014. Cascade is a retired racing greyhound, and although still pretty fast when she wants to be, she is mostly a couch potato now! Cascade is also blood donor at the OSU Veterinary Hospital and when she is really happy she “chatters” her teeth, which is the greyhound way to “purr.” Cascade’s handler is Carrie Anne.
AshbyAshby is a Labrador Retriever. He was born on April 19, 2019. Ashby was originally born into the Canine Companions for Independence program but changed professions when he was adopted and became a therapy dog. Ashby has numerous fur siblings and human siblings. He loves to hike, camp and play with squeaky toys. He will never miss a meal or an evening walk! Ashby’s handler is Ann.
DexterDexter is a basset hound mix born October 28, 2011. He is named for the hit showtime series ‘Dexter!’ Dexter is new to Ohio and he can run an 8 minute mile on his tiny legs. He has traveled across the country visiting at least 30/50 states, 3 countries and numerous national parks. His photo is from the top of the space needle in Seattle! He enjoys long walks around the neighborhood and hates when him pawrents leave him home alone. Dexter’s handlers are Hannah and Dan.
WallyWally is a Shih Tzu. He was born on March 21, 2018 in the Buckeye State of Ohio. He was named after his dad’s favorite Nascar driver "Rusty Wallace." Wally loves to play with his stuffed babies and take a leisurely float on his raft in the pool during the summer. Wally wants to be held and cuddled. If you stop giving him attention, he will let you know that it is time for you to resume. Wally’s handler is Kelli.
VegasVegas is a Mini Goldendoodle. She was born on May 13, 2016. Vegas’s full name is Vegas Bella Johnson. She loves to swim, her favorite toy is a tennis ball and her favorite bedtime snack is orange cream yogurt. Yum! Vegas’s handler is Sheila.
FinnFinn is a Labrador Retriever (Red) born on December 9, 2020. Finn loves sticks (the bigger the better) more than any other toy but food will forever be his favorite. When he must settle for toys, he loves stuffed squeaker toys and will often bring you two at a time. He loves attention and sometimes gets jealous of his brother, a cat named Dexter. Finn has been working toward his goal of joining the Buckeye Paws team since he was brought home January 2021. Finn’s handler is Jillian.
StellaStella is a Belgian Malinois born on October 31, 2018. Stella’s favorite toy is a tennis ball or her training tug. She loves to go everywhere with her dad but specifically loves the river and swimming! She went to the ocean one time on a camping trip and loved playing in the waves. Whatever the adventure, she is always ready! Stella’s handler is Ben.
EllieEllie is a Shih Tzu, Dachshund, Chihuahua mix born on August 1st, 2020. Ellie was a rescue from the Columbus Humane Society. She loves to run, loves to play, loves to run and play. Her free time is spent watching birds and squirrels out the window. Ellie loves people and is so excited for her new job with Buckeye Paws! Ellie’s handler is Jackie.
IrohIroh is a Golden Retriever born on January 10, 2021. Iroh loves going to the dog park and camping! He loves to play tug of war with his toys and playing fetch. He enjoys getting Pup Cups from Dairy Queen and KONGS filled with peanut butter. He’s very cuddly and affectionate at home when he’s not running around the back yard. Iroh’s handler is Jeremy.
GusGus is an Australian Shepherd. He was born on June 29, 2018. Gus is a rescue from Speak for the Unspoken. He likes peanut butter, Starbucks Puppy-cinos and playing fetch with his beloved squeaky ball. He has never met a stranger and gets a case of the "wiggles" when he is excited, and his whole back-end shakes. Gus’s handler is Emily.
VioletViolet Mae is a Bichon Frise. She was born on December 27, 2020. Her all-time favorite activity is being outside, laying in the grass soaking up the sun and she enjoys digging holes and getting dirty. Thankfully, she LOVES bath time and relaxes like she’s at a spa. Her favorite toy is a pink crinkle monkey. Mom has had to buy quite a few because Violet likes to chew off the arms and legs. Violet’s handler is Stephanie.
SullySully is an English Cream Golden Retriever. He was born on December 8, 2020. His favorite treat is anything dad is making in the kitchen and his favorite snacks are bluebs (blueberries). He loves going to doggo camp, stalking deer and bunnies in the backyard, and snuggling. Sully is such a good boy! He prays before his meals and does not destroy his toys. Sully’s favorite toy is his plush deer he picked out at Cabela’s. He is such a love bug and wants to be everyone’s friend. He is very excited to go to work with his mamma as a Buckeye Paw! Sully’s handler is Kari.
BoBo is a Golden Retriever. He was born on July 5, 2018. He enjoys rolling around in the grass, zoomies, and his bedtime treats. When gets very excited, he sings! Bo’s handler is Daphne.
PennyPenny is Shih Tzu. She was born on June 23, 2014. Penny truly defies that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks because she passed basic and advanced training to be a Buckeye Paws dog at the age of 8 years old. Penny loves to interact with people and will wiggle when she is excited. Penny’s handler is Lori.
SkylerSkyler is an Aussie Mountain Dog, born on December 28, 2020. He likes to swim, chase squirrels, and fetch sticks. Skyler will never turn down a treat especially chicken, peanut butter or popcorn. Fun fact, his left eye is half blue. Skyler’s handler is Sara.
ToulaToula Lou is a Golden Retriever, born on November 13, 2013. Toula’s favorite foods are cheese and fried eggs. She loves cuddling with her 8-year-old hooman sister, Claira. Toula is ‘Hero’ # 2184 in the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. This is one of the largest, most comprehensive prospective canine health studies in the United States. The Study’s purpose is to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer in doges. For more information you can visit Golden Retriever Lifetime Study | Morris Animal Foundation. Toula’s handler is Jessica.
NormanNorman Fuzzy Britches is a Red Golden Retriever. He was born on July 5, 2021. His best friend is his big brother Ollivander Fluffy Bottom, who is an Orange Tabby Cat. Tennis ball is life! Give Norman all the head scratches behind the ears. He loves some McDonalds french fries, popcorn, and doing tricks for treats. Please give him all the love and kisses, he is here to make your day brighter! Norman’s handlers are Hilary and Jared.
SimoneSimone is a Golden Retriever. She was born on December 20, 2019. Simone is excited to be taking on a part time job in addition to her full-time nanny position for four kids. She looks forward to not being dressed up, going to the “vet” office run by a 5 year old and being invited to tea parties where she isn’t allowed to eat food. She loves water flavored margaritas, ice for a treat and never misses the chance to go for a swim. In the snow she turns into a kangaroo and forgets how to walk but loves to go sledding! Simone’s handler is Molly.
GooseGoose is an English Cream Golden Retriever. He was born on February 2, 2020. Goose weighs 110 lbs., his favorite toys are sticks and Lamb Chops and he loves cheese! His favorite song to sing to is “Is It True,” by Tame Impala. Goose’s handler is Katie.
RussellRussell is a Labrador Retriever. He was born on February 4, 2018. Russell is a career change guide dog from Leader Dogs for the blind. He had a unique upbringing, as he was raised by a prison inmate until he was a year old. It definitely gives him some serious street cred at the dog park! Russell has a few nicknames, and Slider is one of them. He earned this moniker after the iconic character in "Top Gun" and because he loves to slide into a Superman position on any hard surface flooring. When he's not showing off his sliding skills, you can call him Russ or Big Russ. He's a playful and affectionate companion who's always up for an adventure and snacks. One of his favorite treats are bananas. Russell's got a heart full of love, loyalty, and a wagging tail that never stops. Russell’s handler is Dennis.
ZekeZeke is a Retriever Mix. He was born on June 29, 2016. Zeke was rescued from The Rescue Inn in northeast Ohio, 2 fur sisters (Moose and Izzy). He enjoys sunning in the grass, loves pup cups, going for walks/runs and all car rides! His favorite snacks are peanut butter or cheese dog treats. Zeke’s handler is Katie.
NormanNorman is a Doberman/Vizsla mix. He was born on March 24, 2022. Norman loves toys, birds and squirrels. His favorite teams are The Ohio State University Buckeyes and Buffalo Bills. His best friend is his fur sister, Cookie. Norman’s handler is Paul.
VeraVera is a Sheepadoodle. She was born on May 25, 2021. She loves to play chase in the backyard with mom and dad, play with her cat brother, Nelson, and clean her doggy sister’s ears! Vera’s favorite treat is cheese and she was born on her mom’s birthday! Vera’s handlers are Dan and Gabriel.
IndyIndy is a Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever mix. His birthday is March 24, 2022. Indy loves to eat…almost everything! He especially enjoys all kinds of fruit—bananas, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, apples, and pears. And he adores his big brother, Shiloh. He’s also the older half-brother to Columbus Police Department’s Therapy Dog, Maverick! Indy’s handlers are Rhonda and Mary.
Sign up for a visit from the Buckeye Paws program
The Wexner Medical Center launched Buckeye Paws, an innovative animal-assisted therapy program, on March 6, 2020. Targeted specifically to help improve staff, faculty and student resilience, certified therapy dogs visit to provide comfort and emotional support.
An expansion into The Ohio State University was launched on March 7, 2022. President Kristina M. Johnson supports the Buckeye Paws expansion as it provides an example of how the university supports the health and safety of the community. The university is committed to a culture of caring and meeting Buckeyes where they are.
Visits may be requested and scheduled by emailing BuckeyePaws@osumc.edu. There’s no charge for the visit and the dogs will come to you.
Within The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Buckeye Paws are not able to visit Peri-op, Procedural and Oncology (James) units 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16.
We understand that people may have personal, cultural and medical reasons for avoiding or disliking dogs or pets. We’re cognizant of these issues and will avoid these interactions. The program follows a strict policy to ensure safe contact for everyone.
Be part of the program
Current openings: Dog-handler Team for The Ohio State University only
You must be faculty or staff of The Ohio State University and bring your own dog. Prior to being accepted to the Buckeye Paws program, each dog-handler team must pass a temperament test with the Buckeye Paws Master K9 Trainer and have Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification and Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) certification. If the Master K9 Trainer recommends additional training before being accepted into the program, that will be at the cost of the dog’s owner.
How to give
Buckeye Paws Program Fund - 317037
This fund supports the certified therapy dog program through The Ohio State University and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Funds to be used for, but not limited to, programming, research, training, education, supplies, and equipment.
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