Pawsitive vibes

Therapy dogs wag their way to SRU

Published by Kayla Raynak, Date: February 27, 2024
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Photo Courtesy of Elissa Druschel

According to experts, therapy dogs are a helpful way to relieve stress. Different SRU organizations often host therapy dogs throughout the year at different locations on campus.

There are various days at SRU where students can take a break from their day and enjoy the company of some loving dogs.

On Tuesday, Feb. 27 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., the McKay Success Studio will be hosting two dogs that visit SRU regularly at Bailey Library. Their names are Cricket and Ziggy.

The McKay Success Studio originally started a specific event called “Fika Mondays.”

“Fika is a Swedish concept meaning gathering for food/conversation,” Professor Linda Zane said.

“The therapy dogs have been a part of our McKay Success Studio since last academic year. We had them come regularly to McKay and continued that this year,” Zane stated.

They are now hosting therapy dogs at Bailey Library.

“We’ve utilized therapy dogs for numerous events…Fika Monday was designed to offer a safe space for students to converse with faculty, other students, and peer coaches while being able to interact with certified therapy dogs,” Lucian Dean, a PAC and student in the Secondary Education Department, said. “Now we strive to bring the program to high-traffic areas. Hence, we chose Bailey Library to be the prime location to host these events. The more students we can assist, the better.”

Cricket and Ziggy are well known at SRU. They are two friendly dogs that have been certified therapy dogs for most of their life. They visit SRU and many other events throughout the year and love to help people.

Cricket is a Boston terrier, she has been a certified therapy dog with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs since August 2021. Cricket loves to run around outside and play with her family and dog friends.

Ziggy is a toy Australian shepherd also certified with the Alliance of Therapy dogs and the HOPE National Crisis response team. He is a very calming and quiet dog, who loves to relax and nap. Ziggy also likes to go camping and enjoys kayaking with his family.

The Alliance of Therapy Dogs is a national organization to get dogs certified.

Elissa Druschel, who works in Academic Records, expressed her love for her dog Cricket and helping the community.

“She’s a special dog, she does a lot of great work and that makes me happy,” Druschel said.

Professor Denna Hayes talked about how proud she is of her dog Ziggy for the hard work he does.

“I always say every time we go somewhere there was a moment during those visits that makes me get almost like physically emotional. Like sometimes I have to fight back my own tears and always just makes me tell him like I’m driving you wherever you need to go to do your work. I’m just the driver. He does the hard work. And I love watching him work,” said Hayes.

There are various health benefits to spending time with therapy dogs including helping improve people’s mood, reducing stress and decreasing anxiety.

“You have a lot of students that miss their own pets at home, having the therapy dogs really provides that extra level of comfort for them,” Druschel said. “The health benefits of visiting with an animal, any kind of animal, really can lower blood pressure, helps with feelings of isolation, loneliness, that sort of thing…they’re a really great icebreaker too so if we have a student that’s maybe not quite as social, they may respond more to the dogs than they would their peers or another person.”

Deborah Hutchins frequently brings her therapy dog Mily to SRU for different events. She believes there are a number of different ways that therapy dogs can help students.

“They say, research shows that petting a dog can help reduce stress,” Hutchins said. “Dogs tend to help them relax, they can be playful, so that helps to increase laughter which also helps to reduce stress.”

There are various times throughout the year students will have the opportunity to visit the several therapy dogs that come to SRU. 

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