Service Dog Brutus

June 23, 2020

Late in life, Brutus is building up quite a résumé.

The loveable mutt, rescued from a California shelter, was a family pet before he trained to become a service dog for his Cliffside Park owner.

Last month, after Brutus helped Jasmine Steinwand graduate from Centenary University, his memorable senior year on campus moved the chairwoman of the Science Department to present a special “Greatest Science Helper” award.

Steinwand said Brutus, who is about 14, accompanied her to the Centenary campus in Hackettstown for her senior year because she was struggling to manage her food allergies.

“He was trained to be receptive to any sort of anaphylactic shock, and he can retrieve my EpiPen,” she said. “He came to school with me every day and during the lectures, he would just sit on the floor and fall asleep.”

“He senses Jasmine’s needs,” said Prof. Krassi Lazarova, chairwoman of the science department who had Steinwad and Brutus in one of her physics classes.

Before long, Brutus adopted the rest of the class.

“The more amazing thing that I didn’t anticipate was the calming effect he had on all of the other students,” Steinwand said. “Whenever we would take tests or quizzes, he would start walking around the room and checking on people, and whoever seemed to be the most stressed would be the one he would sit next to.”

“It didn’t start out that way,” said Prof. Krassi Lazarova, chairwoman of the science department who had Steinwand and Brutus in one of her physics classes. “It started that Brutus had to be with Jasmine at all times. But then all of a sudden, Brutus had to be with every student at all times.”

“He ended up becoming an iconic part of the campus,” Steinwand said. “People knew his name, even if they didn’t know me.”

Animals are allowed on campus and in dorms after clearing what Lazarova described as “rigorous processes” with Centenary’s Academic Success Center and Disability Service Office.

But service dogs in classrooms are a rarity. Brutus was a first for Lazarova.

A self-described cat person with a soft heart for dogs, Lazarova had initial reservations about Brutus, particularly in science labs.

“My problem with animals in buildings is mostly safety-related,”  she said. “Think about a lab. If you end up with an animal in a lab, you don’t really know what could happen. We’re talking about physics labs, chemistry labs, biology labs. Sometimes, there are sounds, noises or smells, you never know what could be a problem.”

But the mellow border collie mix, adopted from Rocket Dog Rescue in San Francisco before Steinwad’s family moved to New Jersey, quickly proved its worth.

“Brutus alleviates all of my concerns,” Lazarova said. “He really was always out of the way. He was incredibly well-behaved. Usually, service dogs are well-behaved.”

So when it came time for the science department to hand our its achievement awards for the academic year, Lazarova created a “Special Science Helper” award for Brutus, which was presented in a virtual ceremony along with 14 student awards.

“It was a surprise to me. I was lucky enough to win an  award myself [Senior Merit], and then he won an award,” Steinwand said. “It was pretty heartwarming.”

“He is an incredible animal and we were so lucky to have him,” Lazarova said.

Steinwand, who accepted a degree in biology with a concentration of pre-veterinary studies and a minor in chemistry, will continue her studies at NYU, where she has been accepted into an accelerated program for registered nursing.

Brutus, however, will stay home for now, “only because I’ve been able to get my medical involvement under control lately,” Steinwand said.

Lazarova added praise for all the student award-winners who “have distinguished themselves for their commitment to the advancement of science.”

“Despite the pandemic, they found creative ways to continue their studies virtually,” she said. “I’m incredibly proud of every Centenary science student, as well as our faculty, for rising to the challenges presented by COVID-19.”

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    January 8, 2021

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    January 8, 2021

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    January 8, 2021

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    January 7, 2021

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    January 7, 2021

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    January 7, 2021

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more

    Police Dog Attack

    January 7, 2021

    A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday could put to rest a lawsuit filed by Teri Lynn Ehlers, an employee of the Patch Motel, who was bitten by a Duluth police dog named Oakley. Former Duluth Police Officer Marc Johnson was a registered guest of the Warroad establishment May 28, 2018, when […]

    Read more

    PAWS With A Cause

    January 7, 2021

    Pebble Hill Plantation and the Thomas County Public Library are pleased to announce the upcoming Enlightening Bites program, “PAWS With a Cause,” on Friday, January 8, 2021 at noon in the Flipper Room of the Library. The program is being presented by Jeri Anderson, field representative. Anderson is recently retired from the City of Monticello, […]

    Read more

    Police Canine Team

    January 7, 2021

    Kingston Police revealed in a news release late Wednesday afternoon that they’ve been keeping a four-legged secret for roughly three months. The force announced it added a second canine unit, with the arrival of police service dog Dak this past October. He is working with Const. Jeff Dickson, while police service dog Bask is working […]

    Read more

    K9s For Warriors

    January 7, 2021

    K9s For Warriors, a nonprofit organization that provides military veterans suffering from severe PTSD, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma with service animals, recently changed the name of its main campus to honor its leader and founder Shari Duval. Duval began K9s For Warriors in 2011 after her son returned from two tours in […]

    Read more

    More Recent News