Fanshawe hires a furry new employee

Heartly is Fanshawe's new facility dog. His role totally customizable and he can be as interactive as the student chooses.

Fanshawe’s Counselling and Accessibility Services have hired a furry companion to help Fanshawe students in their sessions. Heartly is the school’s new facility dog. His role totally customizable and he can be as interactive as the student chooses.

“Heartly’s very excited to see clients,” said Lindsey McGuire, Heartly’s handler and a personal counsellor at Fanshawe. “He loves people, he loves attention. He will lay with the students and they pet him, if they let him, he will lick them.”

He is trained for some commands, like resting his head on the student’s lap or giving hugs.

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“Students don’t have to interact with him at all. He can just lay here on the couch and just do his own thing. It depends what the client wants. We usually have a conversation with the student about what they think would be helpful.”

Heartly has already provided some comfort to students who were missing home. For those who have pets back home and can’t see them, it gives an opportunity to love up on Heartly while having a conversation about your pets.

“I’ve seen students who come in who appear to be feeling really anxious about meeting a new counsellor and talking about the difficulties they’re having. Talking about Heartly and about animals, it breaks the ice a bit.”

Heartly wasn’t a new decision for Fanshawe. Counselling and Accessibility Services submitted an application to the National Service Dogs Facility about five years ago. The staff knew the great impact canine-assisted intervention could have and wanted to further benefit students.

“There are two handlers that are trained at the college. We attended training with National Service Dogs for two weeks every day. Because of COVID, only one day was in person. But then we had Heartly with us the next week. So the first week, you learn all the commands, then you have a day of on-site training with them.”

McGuire said National Service Dogs came to the school to assist with the transition a couple of times, so Heartly could get used to the office space.

Now that Heartly is all trained, he shares his days between the London and Woodstock campuses. His schedule for the fall semester will be announced soon.

If you would like to book an appointment with Heartly, you can do so by contacting Counselling and Accessibility Services at 519-452-4282 or at