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Meet Zeeke! Ohio Northern’s “Polar Pup” In-Training!


Love at First SniffHi! My name is J.J. and I am the volunteer handler of Zeeke, Ohio Northern’s new golden retriever service puppy. I am training him to become an assistance dog for the disabled as my senior honors capstone project.

Next year, you will see Zeeke all around campus – in the dining hall, at sporting events, and you may even sit next to him in class! With the help of President Baker, Zeeke has permission to accompany me everywhere I go. My job is to teach him basic obedience commands and socialize him to new people and environments.

Zeeke LOVES attention and really enjoys meeting new people, so when you see us, please say hi. However, remember that he is in training to be a service animal, so always ask before you pet/call him (this is so he learns not to lunge at people passing by).

Zeeke is a unique dog with a very special destiny – to help a disabled person gain independence and dignity. He will perform tasks such as pulling a wheelchair, flipping on/off light switches, opening doors, picking up dropped objects, etc. He is a puppy from the national non-profit organization called Canine Companions for Independence. This organization places service dogs with “Graduates” (disabled individuals that benefit from the service/companionship of an assistance dog) for free. All efforts, including the raising a puppy from the age of eight weeks to sixteen months, is funded through efforts of volunteers.

ImageCheck back to follow Zeeke’s training process over the next year.

J.J. Coate is a senior from South Vienna, OH.
She’s majoring in biology and pre-veterinary medicine.

To learn more about Canine Companions for Independence, visit the website at