Student Life

Therapy Dogs Create Warm & Fuzzy Joy Around Campus

(Photo courtesy of Sydnee Horstman)

“Just petting a therapy dog can help increase happiness and reduce depression,” said Angie Thomas, QC CAN (Quad Cities Canine Assistance Network) executive director. 

Therapy dogs are widely popular among the St. Ambrose community, especially during stressful times of the year.  “A therapy dog is a pet that is well trained to be calm and relaxed in almost any situation. Their job is to visit libraries, schools, colleges, nursing homes, mental health facilities and community events in order to give comfort and joy to others,” Thomas said. 

The St. Ambrose library hosts numerous therapy dog events with QC CAN throughout the semester. “I believe having this community organization come to campus is very important. It provides an opportunity for community members to come onto campus and to meet with students. It also brings awareness to what therapy dogs are and some activities they are able to do,” Sarah Godwin, SAU counselor said. 

Hall included, “Having therapy dogs visit your facility can help increase morale, help increase social interaction, reduce depression among staff or students and bring joy and excitement to all.”

“Our past Outreach and Prevention Therapist had them come during the first mental health fair and students, faculty and staff all seemed to really enjoy having them here so planning other times for them to come to campus,” Godwin explained

Mental health is a widely important factor that therapy dogs can help college students with. “Therapy dogs help with mental health by decreasing feelings of anxiety and depression… Focusing on different textures of their fur, their warmth, their cold nose, and wet kisses can take your mind off of your negative feelings and give you something positive to focus on,” Hall described. 

For many students, missing a pet from back home can contribute to their mental health struggles.

“Another positive of bringing them to campus is many students may have animals at home and they miss them. Bringing therapy dogs to campus provides an opportunity to be with an animal and to get comfort from them,” Godwin stated.

QC CAN continues to enrich people’s lives through therapy dogs and is staying connected to the Quad Cities’ communities. Hall says, “I think of all our QC CAN members as a big family, we work together with a common goal to use our sweet therapy dogs to bring joy and happiness to all of those we meet.”