CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Last week, the new therapy dog at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finally has a name. This week, we talked to his handler, UIPD Detective Tara Hurless, to learn about the big plans that they have for Kirby.

According to Hurless, Kirby will go to the Brevard County Sheriff Department to start a week long training in late September. This is where Kirby will learn different skills and become certified to help people, including U of I students, staff, faculty members and other people in the local communities.

Hurless stated, “They will also look at his temperament and how he acts, especially how he acts when a stranger walks up to him and how he acts in response to me when I give him commands.”

“This is actually what I have been working on since he was donated to the Community Outreach and Support Team in December 2021,” she added.

Hurless and Kirby have attended different campus events. They met many students, prospective students and their parents. They also went to several schools such as Mahomet Junior High and the Monticello Schools.

Hurless said letting people pet and hang out with a therapy dog can help lessen the amount of stress that those people have.

She stated, “It is a calming mechanism for them to feel comfortable and at ease, especially in situations that can normally be stressful for them.”

UIPD Detective Tara Hurless and Kirby.