‘Pawsitivity’ On Campus

Dan Icaza (daicaza@ursinus.edu)

The introduction of therapy support dogs has Wellness and Disability services excited for the future of the Ursinus community. With the help of Danielle Wagner, a staff therapist at Ursinus, and Dee Singley, the Director of Disability Services, students can now interact with therapy support dogs on campus. 

   Conversation about this idea began in March of 2020, but little did anyone know everything would be put on hold. Wagner stated, “Once we shut down for COVID, it went to the backburner because we weren’t allowed to have visitors on campus for the 2020-2021 school year. When I returned to campus in August of 2021, I started coordinating the volunteers, dogs, and going through the approval process with the college. Altogether it took about two months of hard work to get it going.” 

   With the recent introduction of therapy support dogs, Ursinus students are given an outlet to reduce stress and increase self-care during the school year. 

   Singley and Wagner both were enthusiastic about the benefits of therapy dogs for improving life on campus, talking about the positive mental health impacts that spending time with animals has for humans. They are hopeful that the benefits of a therapy dog program will not only help manage anxiety and depression, but motivate students to feel connected to their overall college experience. They both agreed that it will increase our campus’ quality of life by being something free, accessible, and supportive for students to look forward to. 

   Cat Leahy ‘22, an advocate of therapy animals, expressed she is happy that therapy dogs are finally allowed on campus. “Having therapy dogs on campus will help students cope with academic stressors and increase their happiness while at school. It’s a positive aspect for students. It gives us a chance to relax in a safe environment with licensed therapy dogs on campus who may not have an animal at home. For the students who might feel comfortable in the involvement with therapy animals it leads to a better understanding of mental health and the resources provided at this school.” 

   Ursinus students who are unaware of this program will receive information through the Wellness Newsletter and weekly emails. Students can also find information about the program on the “Events” section of the Ursinus website and flyers posted all around campus. 

   The implementation of therapy support dogs on campus can positively impact Ursinus students, as they will feel more comfortable hanging out with a comforting animal to ease their minds. This news will be essential for the well-being of students throughout a stressful year of school.