Meet Dr. Max, Dr. Jack, and Dr. Heather. These “Dog Doctors” are Bernese Mountain Dogs, a relatively rare breed of dog that traces its origin to the mountains of Switzerland. They began life as part of a research program at UGA and quickly showed that they could contribute much more. Instead of growing up in a laboratory, the puppies live in foster homes as part of real families.
The Dog Doctors are part of the Pet Visitation program at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. They have visited numerous classrooms around the state to introduce students – many who have never been exposed to animals before – to the pleasures and responsibilities of dog ownership.
During the visits, the dogs’ owner and breeder, Paige Carmichael, a UGA veterinarian, talks about her research and the roles that the Dog Doctors play in her development of tests to detect genetic diseases in dogs. She answers students’ questions about the dogs, her research, and careers in Veterinary Medicine. She also shows photographs of the Dog Doctors as they grew from babies to full-grown animals that now weigh about 100 pounds each.
Dr. Carmichael and the Dog Doctors have gone to facilities around the state from nursing homes to elementary schools and high schools. The dogs have all completed obedience training and are available to meet with select groups as a public service of the university.