Therapy Dogs to the Rescue


Jaia Dunbar

Juniors Natasha Tadlock and Katie Brooks with one of the therapy dogs, Sadie. The therapy dog visits allow students to take a break from stress and find some comfort.

Jaia Dunbar, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – Bridgewater College’s Office of Student Life brings back the weekly therapy dogs after the traumatic on campus events of Feb. 1.

Director of Student Wellness Shannon Pope, along with other faculty members involved in student life, decided that bringing the therapy dogs back to campus would be beneficial to students and faculty alike.

Multiple organizations have reached out to student life including Crisis Response Canines, the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Therapy Dogs International and Positive Paws K-9s Angels of Staunton.

“We were very lucky to have a bunch of organizations reach out to us,” said Pope. “We have had about ten separate therapy dog visits so far.”

There have been a ranging number of students at the therapy dog visits. The biggest amount seen was on Feb. 6 after the Reflection and Remembrance Service where there were about 70 students.

“I loved them,” said junior Kierrya Whiting. “I am not even a dog person and I loved them.”

Many students have gone to see the therapy dogs multiple days in a row to spend time with the dogs or to see if a specific dog was there.

“I have heard students say ‘oh my gosh I love Sage or I love Lacie’ and they want to see that specific dog because they made some type of impact on them,” said Pope.

Bridgewater’s staff use the therapy dogs being on campus as a way to gather as a community.

“It is a great way to just be together and hang out with these adorable animals and not have to talk,” said Pope.

Students have said the therapy dogs have brought a sense of relief to them, while dealing with the stress and heartbreak of everything that happened on top of school work.  

“The therapy dogs provided a great source of happiness from a long day, especially after classes,” said junior Ally Thompson. 

Pope recalled hearing a student say “wow, this really helped.” 

The best part of the therapy dogs for the students is that the dogs are not asking if they are okay, the dogs just want the students to pet them and be there with them.

“The therapy dogs have been a nice way to mend some broken hearts on campus,” said sophomore Caitlin Kiss. “I am very thankful for the opportunity to spend time with the dogs and escape from the hard parts of life for a while.”

Some students have said that they wish the college could have therapy dogs on campus everyday of the week, rather than just twice a week.

“The therapy dogs have brought a smile to my face everytime they have been on campus,” said junior Katie Brooks. “I have not seen them since my freshman year, so I am really glad that they brought them back.”