Who Let the ‘Therapy Dogs’ Out?

The beginning and end of the semester can be stressful for students. Whether it is the strain of final exams or being away from one’s family, the sources of stress are abundant, and the remedies are in short supply. One such remedy comes from an unexpected source: therapy dogs.

“It’s a good opportunity to have folks take a moment to pause and breathe and find relaxation in dogs,” Jillian Strong, the assistant director of Student Involvement, said.

Strong worked with DAWGS (Doing Activities With Great Spirit) to bring therapy dogs to campus on Nov. 30, 2023 in the fall semester and on Jan. 24 this semester.

“We connect with the Inland Empire Therapy Dogs. They’re all volunteer-based, so the dogs who come are different every time,” Strong said.

Last semester, students had a chance to meet Meelo Wiltsie, Paisley Trembly, Aelish Martinez and Lucky Boy by the bulldog statue. This semester, students could hang out with Boo Boo Mitchell, Aelish Martinez, Wesley Wheeler, and Bear Gremard on the first floor of Hunsaker.

Students take a break with Irish Wolfhound Aelish outside the library at the first Therapy Dogs event.

Sue Martinez, Aeilish’s owner, shared that every time she’s been to a college campus, the students there are “just as happy to see [the dogs]” as the younger kids she and Aelish often work with.

“In the moment I see students’ shoulders relaxed; they’re laughing and engaging. It’s a good event,” Strong added.

The therapy dogs act as a mental health break for students, providing comfort and bringing smiles. Although, it’s not just the dogs that are impactful, the volunteers make a difference for students too.

“The folks who come are really good at engaging students with questions that help them process what’s on their mind; they’re really affirming. I remember hearing one student say ‘I really needed to hear that,’” Strong said.

Boo Boo and Mr. Mitchell in the Hunsaker center during the Therapy Dogs event on Jan. 24.

Though it will be a while before the therapy dogs are on campus again, Strong shared that students can expect to see them around finals week. Until then, students can reach out to the university counseling center at 909-748-8108 or access TimelyCare if they are looking for any additional support this semester.

Photos by Madelyn Olsen.

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Madelyn Olsen is a first-year student majoring in Saxophone Performance. She loves writing, making music, and taking care of her chickens in her free time.

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