Meet Bethany McFerrin’s Service Dog, Koby

Front: Bethany McFerrin with service dog Koby; Back: Donna Polk, student program advisor at the Greenbrier Valley Campus and co-sponsor of PTK (left); NRCTC president Dr. L. Marshall Washington; Joanna Post, PTK past president; Terry Holliday, current president of Phi Theta Kappa; Raylene Green and Jennifer Bowman, PTK representatives; NRCTC faculty co-sponsor Lucie Refsland and Dr. Alan Withers, student services
Front: Bethany McFerrin with service dog Koby; Back: Donna Polk, student program advisor at the Greenbrier Valley Campus and co-sponsor of PTK (left); NRCTC president Dr. L. Marshall Washington; Joanna Post, PTK past president; Terry Holliday, current president of Phi Theta Kappa; Raylene Green and Jennifer Bowman, PTK representatives; NRCTC faculty co-sponsor Lucie Refsland and Dr. Alan Withers, student services

Last May, the Beta Zeta Delta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at New River Community and Technical. College surpassed its goal of $5,000 in a raffle to assist Bethany McFerrin, a student at New River’s Greenbrier Valley Campus in Lewisburg. Bethany is wheelchair-bound from cerebral palsy and was in need of a service dog. The raffle was coordinated by PTK members at New River’s campuses in Princeton, Beckley and Summersville in addition to the Greenbrier Valley Campus.

According to Joanna Post, past president of the Phi Theta Kappa, everyone saw a need, “and so we worked together to make this happen.” Post said news of Bethany’s search for a service dog went out on the wire, bringing in funds from several out-of-state donors. The exact amount donated was $6,584, which exceeded their goal of purchasing Koby and so paid the travel costs for Bethany and Sarah to Dayton, Ohio where Koby was raised. She offered thanks to all those individuals and businesses who contributed to this very worthy cause.

Bethany’s mother, Sarah McFerrin, also a New River student, said in their search for a service dog, they found no options available in WV, so they went online to find the Dayton, OH resource where they found Koby, an 18 to 20 months old black male Lab/Great Dane cross. Having passed his basic and advanced obedience exams, Koby knows when he is fitted with his Service Vest, it is his cue to go to work and not play around.

The four days of training in Ohio paid off, Sarah said. Koby and Bethany bonded very quickly as they got to know each other. Koby first had to learn to recognize Bethany’s voice, and then they practised retrieving things like Bethany’s cell phone, the TV remote or a blanket.

Sarah, who has devoted most of her life to her daughter, is very proud that Bethany’s efforts are coming to fruition. She is now back in school this semester with Koby at her side. In June Bethany will be moving with Koby to Huntington, WV where she will be attending Marshall University to follow up on her chosen field of study — journalism. She also plans to write a book about life from the point of view of one with disabilities. Like every other nineteen-year-old, she has goals and plans and is driven to succeed.

Back home in Williamsburg, Koby was introduced to the McFerrin’s five dogs. The first thing they did, Sarah said, was to go out for a “pack walk.” Just like with Bethany, he bonded and fit right in.

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