Skip to main content

Back to School and Back to Working Like a Dog

We chatted with Gary the comfort dog and Officer Elliot Lanciani about the summer, and what’s next for fall semester.
By: Sarah Sweeney

It was a busy summer for Gary.

In between meeting Endicott visitors and further familiarizing himself with the campus, the College’s first comfort dog soaked in some leisure time at the beach, enjoyed long naps while trying to keep cool, and spent quality time with his handler, Officer Elliot Lanciani.

But now that the dog days of summer are over, Gary and Lanciani are readier than ever for a semester of spreading smiles.

“Gary missed the students so much,” said Lanciani, who has served as Gary’s handler since March.

On a recent visit to Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream for a doggie sundae, we chatted with Lanciani and Gary about summer on the North Shore and how they’re feeling about the fall. 

This interview has been edited for length, clarity, and barks.

This was your first summer together! Did you two go anywhere fun?

EL: I took Gary to meet some of my family for the first time. We also explored some local beaches. Of course, we also spent lots of time at the dog park.

Gary: I met so many new friends. Human friends and furry friends, too. We went to “the beach.” The sand was cool. But the water is weird. It kept trying to get my toes, so I had to leap a lot.

What were some fun activities you two got up to on campus over the summer?

EL: It was a lowkey summer but one of his favorite things was visiting with some schoolchildren from Lynn. Gary adores kids of all sizes.

Gary: Oh, my goodness. So many belly rubs. So many chin scratches. We played for like the longest time ever and it was GREAT.

What are you most excited about now that the students are back at Endicott?

EL: I like to see Gary happy. While he’s been content over the summer, I know he’ll be much more playful now that the students are back. He loves to be loved and all the incoming students are already an overload of excitement.

Gary: Getting belly rubs. Getting scratches. Getting extra treats. Oh, and hugs. I LOVE HUGS.

What’re some of the ways Gary can help our community?

EL: In general, Gary has been known to boost morale. A quick pat or hug from Gary when he is in a silly mood can be a welcome distraction from the mundane. However, in more serious situations, Gary can maintain his composure and go right into working mode.

For example, anxiety is common in a community like ours. On occasion, anxiety can escalate and become a medical emergency. Gary is trained to comfort those experiencing an attack and help control the environment until a counselor or emergency services can be provided.

Gary: I am not really sure what this question means but my human says I help people by just existing.

What does a typical day in the life of Gary look like?

EL: I think I’ll let Gary answer this one.

Gary: The whole day? Oh, goodie. Well… first, I climb into bed with my human and the kitty. I must be gentle with the kitty because she’s old and grumpy. We’re friends but she is NOT a morning kitty. We listen to music and talk about our plans for the day. Then we have breakfast. My human usually makes themselves some gross healthy stuff. But I am lucky. I get this yummy crunchy food with some dry chicken bits and sometimes peanut butter.

Then we go for a walk. It’s the same walk but I really like it because there are lots of flowers for me to sniff and there is always at least one stick that I can find and carry with me. After our walk, my human comes back and gets ready for work. This is usually when I try to get the kitty to play with me or I find my favorite toy and show it who’s boss.

Once we get to work and put on my vest, I have to say hello to ALL of my police officer friends. I love coming to work because everyone at the station pays attention to me and I feel like a celebrity. Once the humans have their shift meeting, my handler and I go on a lot of adventures. Some of our favorite places to go are the library and the VPAC. My human doesn’t know this, but my goal is to get a pet from every other human I see.

We usually end our day by taking off my vest and going for one more small walk. Then we go home, and I climb into my bed with my stuffed animals. Yes, I sleep with stuffies. I’m still a baby puppy, you know.

Learn more about Gary or request a visit.

Join Gary for a meet and greet at Brindle Hall, 4-5 p.m., on Sept. 2; Trexler Hall, 4-5 p.m., Sept. 4; Hamilton Hall, 7-9 p.m., Sept. 4; Endicott Hall, 7-9 p.m., Sept. 5; Wenham Hall, 4-5 p.m., Sept. 8; Reynolds Hall, 7-9 p.m., Sept. 8; Brooks Hall, 5-6 p.m., Sept. 9; and Hale Hall, 4-5 p.m., Sept. 11.