Animals have always been a big part of Kenzie Young’s life, so it’s only natural they’re a key component of her education at Oregon State – including one particular creature who’s become a fixture at Austin Hall.
That would be Wrangler, the 9-year-old dog Young is training to be a service animal.
“He goes everywhere with me,” said Young, who’s majoring in finance with a minor in animal science.
Young has had Wrangler, a border collie/McNab shepherd cross, since adopting him at six weeks old when her family lived in a rural setting in Yelm, Wash.
“He played Frisbee, herded horses,” she said. “He’s pretty much done everything.”
And now he’s learning to be a service dog for people battling depression and anxiety, specifically for a relative of Young’s who suffers from anxiety.
“Depression and anxiety kind of run in my family,” she said.
Wrangler’s training began a year and a half ago in classes attended by him and Young’s mother. At this stage, Young brings him with her as she goes about her daily life and rewards him with a treat every time he responds positively toward someone who looks sad.
Wrangler will conclude his training at the end of the school year, at which point he’ll be evaluated for two weeks by a representative of the United States Service Dog Registry. If he passes his evaluation, he’ll be officially certified, which gives him a formal stamp of legitimacy should anyone challenge his presence anywhere – for example, on a commercial airliner.
Working with Wrangler is part of a jam-packed schedule that Young deals with via “good time management skills” and a “lack of sleep.”
Supplementing her coursework, she’s interning for Linn County, doing auditing in the county’s general services department. She also works weekends as a cashier at Kmart, barrel races for the OSU rodeo team and serves as a brand ambassador for Bootights.
In addition, she’s partnering with College of Business online fashion magazine DAMchic to organize a Mom’s Weekend event that honors women role models on campus.
Career-wise, Young is “leaning toward being a financial analyst.”
“But I went to a Travel Friday to different investment banking firms,” she said. “And that was exciting, too.”