Ivy Leaf - Fall 2010
The Dog Days of September
"You really draw people in with something like this. They've owned a dog, do own a dog, or want to own a dog, so everyone has something in common," Lois Fogle states while looking down lovingly at three of her Golden Retrievers. And that was pretty much the idea behind Dog Days Social, held three Thursdays in September: to generate conversation and create connections between students, faculty, and staff.
Fogle is a certified master instructor at Fogle's Dog Training and Boarding in Ashville, Pennsylvania. She was contacted by Diana Kos, counselor for the Health & Wellness Center, about bringing some of her certified therapy dogs to campus for the Dog Days Social. Fogle was eager to help out. "It's all about the dogs and seeing the joy they bring to people."
It was easy to see that joy reciprocated, as people stopped by to pet, scratch, cuddle, and coo to the dogs. Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, and those in stressful situations. Kos says she got the idea to hold the event from a similar program at Susquehanna University. "We wanted to lessen some anxiety around campus, to get people talking. We also wanted to create a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for students adjusting to college life or missing home."
The inaugural event went quite well, drawing in more than 200 people. Kos says one student came by to spend time with the retrievers before a test. That student returned afterward having aced the exam. She said she would be back for the next social, thinking that playing with the dogs calmed her and helped her focus. Freshman Alyssa Fingerman was another student happy to take part. "I miss my dog back home. Getting to pet these guys here is a little like therapy, not just for me but for all of the students whose pets are far away."
Kos plans to hold Dog Days Social again next September.