Onyx is posed in front of the Michigan State University Stadium in Lansing.

Onyx Heads to East Lansing, Provides Support to MSU

The Disability Network’s fuzziest team member, Onyx the facility dog, recently visited Michigan State University to provide comfort to students employed at MSU Greenline, a student call center for Annual Giving.

On March 1, Onyx headed to Spartan Country upon a request from leaders for MSU Greenline. “After the tragic event that took place on February 13th, we have been looking for any ways to support our students when they return to the workplace,” Nikki Hawthorne, Assistant Director of Annual Giving – Telemarketing, shared. “Some of our callers returned to work the week Onyx visited, and it was great to have a sweet dog greet our student employees at the door while they entered the office.”

Onyx met with students throughout the day, providing companionship and calm. Meghan Slaght, Onyx’s handler and youth specialist for The Disability Network, explained that due to some medical issues, Onyx had been off of work as a facility dog and had recently returned to his role, “As soon as we walked into the room, he went to certain students, it made me feel proud because he’s been off for so long and he didn’t forget his tasks.” She continued, “His tasks are to make people feel happy, to feel comfortable, and to feel safe. He brought joy to the environment.”

Onyx the dog receives belly rubs from two students.
Onyx receives belly rubs from MSU Greenline students.

Rachel Dodds, a Greenline student, shared her experience of having Onyx visit, “I was experiencing some anxiety, but he came right up to me and made me feel so much better. You can tell he really knows what people are feeling, and he just relieves any stress someone may be experiencing. His handler was equally as amazing, and the two made a great pair.”

Onyx, a happy golden retriever, rests in front a large Spartan statue.
TDN’s good boy, Onyx, shows that he’s Spartan Strong at a recent visit to MSU’s campus.

MSU Greenline employs about 100 students each semester and “is the largest run call center in the Big 10,” Hawthorne shared.

Onyx has been with The Disability Network, a center for independent living in Flint, Michigan, for seven months. Serving alongside Meg Slaght in high schools throughout Genesee County, his primary job is assisting youth with disabilities by providing a feeling of comfort and safety and being a non-judgmental friend. Onyx came from Paws with a Cause (PAWS), a non-profit in West Michigan that custom trains assistance and facility dogs.