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Capital Conversations: Officer Faath and Roxy

By Shaylee Staves | May 6, 2024

Officer Kenneth Faath and therapy dog Roxy at the University Police Department.

Photo Credit: Shaylee Staves / The ASP

One of the newest additions to the University Police Department’s (UPD) Community Response Unit is a loveable black labrador named Roxy. She has been working for a year as the university’s resident therapy dog. Although she could not personally share her own words here, she expressed her joy in being included with much tail-wagging.

Officer Kenneth Faath has worked with UPD for over two years, and began working with Roxy in 2023. 

“We call her a freshman in the class of 2027,” he said, rubbing Roxy behind the ears. “I joke that she’s gonna be an eight-year senior because her working life is probably gonna be eight years.”

On top of the basic training Roxy was given by her breeder, she worked with canine specialists at the Albany Police Department to become a therapy dog. There, dogs are trained to work in the various environments and situations that they are likely to be in while on the job. This includes behavior training to refuse human food, recognizing medical devices such as wheelchairs, and remaining calm in the presence of loud noises. 

Officer Faath also mentioned the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test as part of her certification, which proves a dog’s readiness for the job. Roxy became certified at a year old, which is the minimum age to get certified. 

“She’s a smart cookie,” Officer Faath remarked.

As a university therapy dog, Roxy’s services are requested fairly consistently throughout the academic year for mental health support, according to Officer Faath. However, the Student Health Services tries to counteract rising stress surrounding exam weeks by scheduling more relaxing events.

“As far as her programming and the proactive stuff that we do, it does get ramped up over the next few weeks,” Officer Faath said. 

When asked about his favorite part of the job, Officer Faath stated, “It’s got to be interacting with students. We’re not taking calls every hour together for mental health, so when I get to walk through the campus center, a lot of people see a police dog and they don’t know if they can pet her. Then I tell them she’s a therapy dog and they can interact.”

During midterms and finals season, more events are scheduled to help alleviate excess stress for students and faculty, such as Relax With Roxy, in addition to regularly provided services. 

“Getting to know the students is great,” Officer Faath said. “There’s no better way to start a conversation than to have a cute puppy who is trained in therapy and trained to be friendly. It’s really something special.” 

In addition to the services Roxy provides, UAlbany also offers multiple resources to support students and their mental health. Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) provides “compassionate, confidential, and inclusive mental health care to registered UAlbany students.” 

In addition to CAPS, the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program offers “critical peer assistance services to UAlbany students” and specifically caters to times when other services are more difficult to access. This student-led support system utilizes training provided by mental health professionals to offer alternative options to students who might be more comfortable interacting with their peers. 

All of these services are private and free of charge to UAlbany students who need support.

“Students are set up for success with mental health when they come here,” Officer Faath said. 

If you are in need of help, reach out to a trusted professional. Emergency services can be reached through the following numbers:

UPD: (518) 442-3131

CAPS: (518) 442-5800

Student Health Services: (518) 442-5229

Sexual Assault Hotline: (518) 447-7716

Shaylee Staves, Officer Kenneth Faath, and therapy dog Roxy.

Photo Credit: Shaylee Staves / The ASP


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