Partnering to Provide Comfort on Campus
Kevin Carrigan has been a police officer in the Babson Public Safety Department for nine years, but he has never had a partner quite like Roger, Babson’s new community resource dog, affectionately named for the College’s founder. Carrigan is the primary handler for the 78-pound English cream golden retriever, who celebrated his first birthday in August after being adopted in January from Golden Opportunities for Independence (GOFI) by the Student Government Association. Roger quickly has become the Big Dog on Campus. He not only comforts students who may be dealing with anxiety or other mental health issues, but he also provides bursts of joy when he strolls around campus with Carrigan—usually between 1 and 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Friday—to play with students and pose for photos. (By Carrigan’s count, Roger posed for about 1,600 pictures on one day of Commencement celebrations in May.) Now, after spending almost a year on campus with Roger, Carrigan says the experience has exceeded even his expectations.
What does your job as primary handler entail?
“If you’re looking for the spotlight, this is definitely not the job for you in any way. I’m only known because of Roger. When Roger’s at training and I’m walking around, people are coming up to me, but only asking where Roger is. My job is to care for Roger and to make sure that he’s advocated for as a working dog on this campus, to make sure that people understand what his job is and what his limitations are, and then also take care of driving him around, his training, his social media, because I run Roger’s Instagram, all those things. It’s pretty much like having a child, a child who’s a star. The community engagement piece is huge with me, so I’m kind of the talking end of Roger who can let people know about Public Safety, what we do, and what we can offer to the community.”
Where did the idea for a community resource dog originate?
“The great thing is that it was a grassroots, student-funded, student-idea thing. The Needham police have a dog named Rocket. His handler is R.J. Poirier (MBA’18), a Babson alum who is a police officer in Needham. He brought Rocket here to introduce him to the campus and introduce him to the kids. The students just fell in love with the idea. RJ described what Rocket does on a day-to-day basis and the positive interactions that he’s had with the community. It really grasped a hold of the SGA, and they thought it would be important for us to have our own dog. It’s something where everybody’s invested in the dog. He represents Babson well, but he also represents all the students well.”
How did you get involved with Roger?
“As a dog lover and as one of the officers who does a lot of community engagement, I thought it would be a perfect fit. I like to interact with the community, I like to let people know who we are as a department. Obviously, with things that have happened in the past couple years with police having a bad reputation, I think it’s important for students, faculty, and staff to know that that’s not us. Getting our message out there about what Public Safety stands for and what we do and how we’re trained is important. I think that’s something that really needs to be focused on—that we are part of the community and also that we can be trusted to serve and protect the community. I think that Roger was the perfect conduit to do that. He almost serves as an ambassador of our department, and that is a huge help. Roger brings a new face to it where people are willing to engage us. When they ask about Roger, they ask about us, and then it develops a relationship.”
What was your reaction when you first met Roger?
“When I went to GOFI, it’s hard not to just fall in love with all the dogs there, plus you’re seeing the work that they’re doing. You love them for the dogs they are, but you also fall in love with the purpose as well. When I first saw Roger in January, he was by himself. He was this gangly type of dog whose paws and head were too big for his body, but he was trying to interact with all the younger puppies, and it just wasn’t going well for him. I remember calling him over to me, and he came running over and he looked like a baby horse coming at me. It was love at first sight. I had that immediate feeling that this is our dog, but he was just so lovable, and I knew that the community was going to feel the same way. It was definitely a good moment for sure.”
How important is Roger to the Babson community?
“He’s quite possibly the most important thing that we have going as far as a mental health resource. He’s a priceless commodity on the Babson campus, and most people do take advantage of that, which I think is great. It’s not a small percentage of people; it’s the vast majority of people who have met Roger, know Roger, follow his Instagram. He’s become his own little mascot. I know Biz will hate that I said that.”
Two More for Kevin
What does Babson mean to you?
“The first word that comes to mind when I think of Babson is community, and the second word that comes to mind when I think of my job in Public Safety is family. Because the nature of our job is to always be here, we are with the people we work with in Public Safety more than we’re with our actual family. Because we’re so close-knit in Public Safety, we treat the Babson community as our community. We’re a family, we have the family dog, and we share our family—and our family dog—with the community, and that’s exactly how I look at it.”
Right now, what are you …
- Watching? “Besides football on Sundays, I’m also watching the series ‘Yellowstone.’”
- Reading? “I really like books on leadership.”
- Listening to? “I’m actually getting back into the Beatles. I’ve always loved them, but now it’s almost like listening to a new song.”
- Doing in your free time? “Most of my free time is spent with my wife. We like to go to the beach, we like to go on vacation, we like to try new restaurants. I am also hanging out more with other dog handlers. I’ve made a lot of new friendships.”
Posted in Community