MILLERSVILLE, Lancaster County — A service dog trained by a Millersville University student has been selected to receive specialized training by the Central Intelligence Agency, the school announced Thursday.
Brian Kirn, who graduated from the university this spring, began training Martin, a Labrador retriever, through Susquehanna Service Dogs in the spring of 2016. He was compelled to volunteer as a puppy raiser by one of his professors, Theotis Braddy, who often challenges his students to consider how they can help improve the lives of those who suffer from disabilities, the school said in a press release.
“I ask students to be intentional because when they do, they actually see that their actions can make a difference,” Braddy said. “Brian saw that right away. He is a very genuine young man who cares about making a difference.”
Kirn was responsible for an hour of training for Martin every day, mandatory outings with SSD and constant work on proper behavior and manners. The dog joined Kirn in class, on dates and at work.
“At first it was hard balancing my role as a resident assistant with raising a service dog, but I quickly made it work by integrating Martin in my position,” Kirn said. “Martin was great because he loved to work and was always eager to learn more.”
Martin joined Kirn while on duty at his desk, during hall meetings, on building tours and for other residential activities. The dog quickly became a beloved member of the community in the South Village.
During Martin’s final training, several representatives from the CIA visited the area and selected Kirn’s trainee for further, specialized training. After a bittersweet farewell to the CIA-bound Martin, Kirn has since co-raised another service dog through the SSD and hopes to raise a third this summer.
He graduated on May 12 with a degree in mathematics.
“Raising a service dog is the journey of a lifetime that you will never forget,” Kirn says. “It is also a great feeling knowing that you are doing something that will give someone with a disability their independence.”