Department of Kinesiology

School of Health and Human Sciences

Good Boy: One PAWesome Dog!

Dogs can do some amazing things, but have you ever heard of a Medical Alert Assistance Dog for a Head Athletic Trainer? Kourtney Sappenfield, a first year sport and exercise psychology master’s student had; and she decided to bring the experience to the classroom.

Meet Remington, a happy Golden Retriever who is making a difference in athlete’s lives. Currently serving UNC-Chapel Hill’s baseball team and his mom, the Head Athletic Trainer, Remington is taking his job to the next level. Check out more information on Remington here: Read more on Kourtney’s experience and how she was able to bring the full experience to the classroom below.

“As a first year sport and exercise psychology (SEP) master’s student here at UNCG, I am extremely eager to learn about all that the field has to offer. I was especially excited when a class I was taking this semester tasked us with an assignment to look into the field of SEP and present about it to the class. I decided to think outside of the box and look into a topic we probably wouldn’t dive into normally. This prompted me to think about things I am interested in the field, like sports, and things I am in interested about in life, like dogs. I remembered seeing a news article last spring about a Medical Alert Assistance dog that worked with the baseball players at UNC-Chapel Hill and thought that this would be an interesting topic to explore. Since this is a brand new area in the field of SEP, I worried that the lack of literature would make it not enough for the assignment however, my advisor thought otherwise, so I became invested in learning more about REMINGTON and the work he does at UNC-Chapel Hill.

REMINGTON’S mom Terri Jo Rucinski is the baseball team’s athletic trainer. I reached out to her to learn more about his impact on the baseball team and other sports on campus. She was very nice and worked to fit my class into her schedule as she thought the best way to learn about REMINGTON would be to meet him in person. After a couple of months of communication, it was decided that both Terri Jo and REMINGTON would come visit my class for my presentation.

I was so excited not only because he is a cute golden retriever but also to hear about his job and the positive effect he has.

During the presentation REMINGTON laid quietly on the ground (because he was working) while Terri Jo told his story, the process of getting him, and parts of his job. REMINGTON is a very smart dog who knows over 100 commands, from being able to whisper to taking off someone’s jacket to turning the lights on and off. He also has the ability to sense anxiety and “anchor” on to a person (i.e., curl up at his/her feet) to help provide some relief by letting them pet him. She explained that this and simply his presence have helped the baseball team feel more positive in a sport of high anxiety and pressure. REMINGTON also helps in the recovery of injured athletes, whether that means being there with them the day of their surgery or helping them work on exercises during rehab. She says since his time there, she has seen fewer reports of injury than ever before. However, she did talk about how she has run into some issues regarding him and the necessity of his job. Nevertheless, she explained that everyone who he has worked with sees how special a dog he is and feels the benefits of his presence.

This was such an incredible opportunity and I was so glad I got to meet them and hear their stories, and I am thankful for this assignment for giving me the chance to learn about something new in SEP. I wish them the best of luck in their upcoming season and as they continue to keep positively impacting the people that they meet.”