Humans of UK: Lindsay McSorley trains dogs to make a difference


Lindsay McSorely poses for a photo on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Elijah Hendricks

Lindsay McSorley, the recruitment chair of UK 4 Paws for Ability, can often be seen walking around campus with her four-month-old Goldendoodle foster, Emmy. 

UK 4 Paws allows UK students to get involved with the community by training service dogs. It’s one of three organizations on campus that train service dogs, and they specifically focus on socialization and basic commands like “sit,” “lay down” and “roll over.”

Emmy is one of 22 dogs that the organization is currently training to help people who have medical needs like seizures or diabetes, among others. McSorley previously trained another Goldendoodle named Blossom, who now helps with mobility and medical alert. 

McSorley said UK 4 Paws wants their puppies to be comfortable around people in as many types of environments as possible, so she takes Emmy to the park, class and work.

McSorley said training Blossom took around seven months, but the process can range anywhere from a few months to a year and a half, depending on the dog. Once UK 4 Paws has taught their foster dogs as much as they can, they will take the dogs to Xenia, Ohio, to the 4 Paws, 4 Ability headquarters there. At the headquarters, they will test the dogs’ obedience, socialization and confidence. If they pass, they’ll stay in Xenia and learn specialty skills that will depend on what they’re assigned to do. 

UK 4 Paws has 24 dogs that have gone on to become full service dogs.

Those that don’t pass are either sent back for more training or inducted into the Fabulous Flunkies. Fabulous Flunkies can either be adopted by their trainers or adopted out to trusted members of the community. Either way, even dogs that don’t pass are ensured a good, loving home.

“There are people in the community that love to adopt the Flunkies because they’re already trained,” McSorley said.

To join UK 4 Paws, students fill out an application and go through a screening process. McSorley described 4 Paws as a close-knit community that people don’t need previous experience training dogs to join, where members will answer any questions applicants may have.

“There’s a lot of us, so we have several GroupMe’s going, and there’s always someone that wants to go to the park or the tennis courts and take the dogs out to play,” McSorley said. “It’s obviously very hard giving up a dog because we get so close to them, but seeing them go to a family that really needs them is the most rewarding thing. It makes you realize that they have a bigger purpose in life than just making you happy.”