December 9, 2019

Exam-Time De-Stress: Students Find Warm Fuzzies with Therapy Dogs @ WCU

therapy Dogs at west chesterTails will be wagging as West Chester University students snuggle with therapy dogs at the annual Therapy Dog Extravaganza on Tuesday, Dec. 10, in Sykes Student Union.

It’s finals week for all students, some of whom are graduating the weekend of Dec. 13–15, adding to that holiday/year-end stress, so the WCU Counseling Center is bringing in a whole pack of cuddly, comforting canines to help students cope. At this writing, there are a dozen therapy dogs from a variety of local therapy dog organizations slated to be at the event in Sykes Student Union, Ballroom A, on Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (This is NOT an adoption event.)

“Our dog therapy program is by far our most popular outreach with students,” says Rachel Daltry, Psy.D., Counseling Center Director, licensed psychologist, and an associate professor and chair of the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services. “We get constant positive feedback and expressions of gratitude from students for having the dogs on campus. We have even heard from some students that having the therapy dogs visit campus influenced their decision to come to WCU.”

During this semester, which ends on Dec. 13, therapy dogs made 12 visits to campus. Daltry also brings her chocolate Labrador Retriever, Mr. Muddy Puddles, to campus as an embedded therapy dog. Therapy dogs have also visited South Campus, a practice that began this spring.

“This is the second semester therapy dogs have visited Sturzebecker Health Sciences Center,” Daltry reports. “The request came because students attending classes on South Campus can’t always get up to campus to visit the therapy dogs. They have been very well received!”

Emily Duckett confirms that students on South Campus appreciate the outreach. An athletic trainer and instructor in the Department of Sports Medicine in Sturzebecker, she sees smiles when she brings Ace, her yellow Lab therapy dog. “Students see him and make comments like, ‘Ace, you just made my day’ or ‘Now I am ready to take my exam.’ When students share simple moments like that with me, I know we are making a positive impact on their day. For me, bringing Ace to campus to help our students is a small way that I can help support them. I love watching the joy and positive energy that he helps our students cultivate through a few pats and a tail wag.”

Therapy dogs are also making the rounds in the Francis Harvey Green Library, a practice only a few months old. Students can enjoy their company on Monday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 11 to 1 p.m.; and Wednesday, Dec. 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.

Visit the website for WCU’s Counseling Center for additional information on dog therapy and the center’s other services.


Duckett and Ace are connected with Shadowlee Canine, a West Chester-based non-profit organization.


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