Spirit: A Hero Wearing a Blue Cape


Jon Singleton

Spirit, Pace’s Facility Service Dog, serves as a therapeutic asset for students on campus.

Carmen Ballon, Social Media Manager

For many students, the morning alarm is the worst part of the day. For nursing student Jon Singleton, his 5 a.m. alarm involves barking, licks, and a whole lot of love from his service dog, Spirit.

Not all heroes wear capes, but for this energetic Golden Retriever, there is an exception. With a pump in his step, Spirit greets anyone he sees, wearing a blue cape labeled “Pace Facility Service Dog.”

Service dogs are trained canines that perform tasks for people with visible or invisible disabilities. Facility dogs are specially trained and partnered with a facility worker in the health care or educational field.

Spirit, serving both purposes, was introduced last fall by College of Health Professions professor Dr. Joanne Singleton, Jon’s mother, who showed the importance of service dogs in the healthcare field and to provide demonstrations for their resource.

One of Dr. Singleton’s demonstration is how a service canine retrieves a prosthetic leg, using the command leg and recognizing the object by a green string tied on it. Service dogs can perform over 40 commands, using color to understand the retrieval of items such as medicine, medical bags, or opening doors.

Dr. Joanne Singleton fell in love with service dogs at a convention where she met Veteran Luis Carlos Montanan, who had a service dog that helped with his PTSD. This led to a collaboration of studies about service dogs helping veterans and the arrival of Spirit.

“I finally met Luis and that made my love for dogs, blow out of the water,” Jon Singleton said.

Realizing the importance of dogs in health care, the Singleton family collaborated with Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) to find the best fitting service puppy for the university and their personal use.

Partnering a puppy to a person is an extensive process by evaluating the bond and necessities one needs. Training begins at just 3 days old, using touch and sound, to finally receive certification by completing 3 tasks. At just a few days old, Spirit connected with the Singleton’s and found his forever home.

“When he came home, I was honestly the happiest person in the universe,” said Jon Singleton.

This energetic friend can help an anxious student in need, grab medical bags, and make people smile.

“He is like the flash,” Jon Singleton said. “I lose sight of him.”

Students can meet Spirit every other Wednesday at the Dean’s Lounge for the Health Wellbeing committee events.

“If you guys ever see Spirit on campus, you guys are more than welcome to come say hi because he loves interacting with people,” said Jon Singleton.