A student and a dog are having a positive interaction as part of dog therapy day.
Community Campus Life

Therapy dogs give campus paws to relax

07 October 2022
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As students head into the heart of the Fall 2022 semester, balancing their studies, jobs, and home life can sometimes feel overwhelming. That’s where Patti, Toscane and Dexter come in. In the lead-up to World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10), the trio of canines were on campus on Oct. 6 making  connections with members of the University community and, in the process, bringing a little welcome relief for students in the midst of a busy Fall semester.

 “By having therapy dogs on campus, we hope to provide a bit of comfort, joy and mental well-being to students, staff and faculty,” said Rob McCaffrey, mental health advisor with the University.

The Paws to Relax therapy dog program will make regular campus visits throughout the Fall semester.

A dog is being petted by a student.

Studies show that when stroking, patting, scratching or touching therapy dogs like Dexter, cortisol levels drop - decreasing anxiety and stress, and elevates oxytocin so we feel warm and fuzzy inside. In other words – it’s good for mental wellness.
Credit: University Advancement and Communications


Two of the animal handlers with two dogs on leashes
If you missed their visit on Oct. 6, Toscane (left) and Taffy will be making regular returns to campus, including the weeks of Oct. 24 – 28, Nov. 14 – 18, and Dec. 5 – 9.
Credit: University Advancement and Communications


A large group of students and a large group of dogs interact in positive ways in a large hallway.
Spending time with therapy dogs like Dexter increases the hormone oxytocin, commonly referred to as the love hormone, and decreases the flight, fight or freeze, and anxiety hormone, cortisol. Credit: University Advancement and Communications


A small, older dog wearing a little bib.
When asked about the benefits of spending time with a therapy dog like Taffy the Scottish Terrier, mental health advisor McCaffrey said, “Everyone is welcome to visit, pet, cuddle, and talk with the specially-trained pet dogs that are gentle and provide mental, emotional and physical support to their handlers and strangers.”
Credit: University Advancement and Communications