In the past, Southern Utah University has occasionally brought therapy dogs to visit campus. These dogs would only visit once or twice a semester, usually around midterms and finals week. Starting this semester, they are now in the library every Tuesday afternoon.
These dogs and their owners are members of Intermountain Therapy Dogs. Emily Dean is one such member, as well as her dog Pippa. While Pippa was busy attending to the crowd that had gathered around her, Dean was able to give some insight into why this event has become a weekly appointment.
“The owner of one of the other therapy dogs, Baxley, said she wanted to come in on a more regular basis,” said Dean. “The idea is that we’ll have about one to three dogs here any given week.”
Based on the amount of students attending this weekly event, it seems that increasing the frequency of therapy dog visits has been a positive change. Collegiate life can be stressful, but enjoying quality time with a friendly animal can be effective in reducing that tension. By holding this event every week, SUU students have another consistent resource to improve their mental health.
Last Tuesday, Pippa was the only dog present for the first half of the event. She wasn’t daunted by the crowd, however. Pippa patiently made the rounds, giving each student their fair share of attention. While some dogs don’t visit as regularly as others, Dean says Pippa is a regular of Therapy Dog Tuesdays and will be attending for many weeks to come.
The dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but Dean shares that they all have one thing in common. “The therapy animals have to pass a pretty extensive training and screening,” she said. The dogs at Therapy Dog Tuesdays are trained professionals in comforting humans and easing stress.
Therapy Dog Tuesdays are held in the lobby of the SUU Library every Tuesday from 2-3 p.m. The event is a free service available to all SUU students provided by the owners of the therapy animals.
Article and photos by: Nick Stein