If you’re ever walking outside Stonebridge Hall, you might notice Miami sophomore and creative writing major, Icarus O’Brien, walking his one-eyed dog, Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers is O’Brien’s emotional support animal (ESA) and helps him manage his depression and anxiety, conditions O’Brien struggled with last school year.
Mr. Rogers has helped a lot with O’Brien’s mental health since he got him in late July of this year.
“He turned out to be a really good ESA,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien has a schedule when it comes to walking Mr. Rogers around Stonebridge, and that schedule has been very helpful for O’Brien.
“Throughout the day, going outside and taking care of him has been really beneficial for stabilizing my mental health and keeping me from staying inside too long,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien adopted Mr. Rogers at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter. O’Brien believes that Mr. Rogers is around five and a half years old and is a Yorkie Chihuahua mix, although it is hard to say since he was adopted as a stray. Mr. Rogers’ shelter name was Roger originally, but O’Brien changed his name to Mr. Rogers when he got him.
“Mr. Rogers just seemed like an appropriate change to make,” O’Brien said. Like the television personality he’s named for, Mr. Rogers spreads happiness and warmth.
Shortly after getting him, Mr. Rogers fell ill with an issue in his eye. O’Brien said smaller dogs like Mr. Rogers oftentimes have a genetic issue in which the lens of their eye can come off and destroy the separation of the fluid between the cornea and the lens.
For Mr. Rogers, this caused uncontrollable glaucoma in his left eye. After trying some medicine to help control the glaucoma, Mr. Rogers’ veterinarian determined that his eye would need to be removed.
“He’s been doing better ever since, but he has a blindside, so if somebody approaches, it can be an issue,” O’Brien said.
Despite the blindspot and having to wear a cone around his neck the first week at Miami, Mr. Rogers still enjoys people and company, making a lot of new friends wherever he goes.
“He’s very friendly and loves to sit on people’s laps,” O’Brien said. “If he sees you sitting down, he’ll sit on your lap.”
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Mr. Rogers does not attend classes with O’Brien, which at first was difficult for both of them. O’Brien was stressed about leaving Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Rogers was stressed about being left alone. However, as the days went on it got easier for the duo. Mr. Rogers got comfortable with his crate and O’Brien leaves the TV on for him while he’s gone. O’Brien only has classes two times a day in the mornings as well, so Mr. Rogers doesn’t have to be alone for very long.
“He’s in the crate for maybe three hours, and then I let him out,” O’Brien said.
Mr. Rogers keeps O’Brien company at home in Stonebridge. When O’Brien plays the piano that’s located on the first floor of Stonebridge, Mr. Rogers is always right there, lying on the bench next to O’Brien.
During our interview, people walked past and smiled at Mr. Rogers as he sat on O’Brien’s lap. O’Brien said people are always stopping to ask to pet Mr. Rogers.
“Stonebridge is his neighborhood,” O’Brien said. “He likes it here.”