Therapy dogs visit campus for the first time this semester


Meghan Hayman

Julia Bartlett, ’16, and Ally Bartlett, ’16, listen to Sue Anderson tell a story about her dog, Danny, during the spring semester’s first therapy dog visitation on Monday Feb 2, 2015.

At the beginning of each month students gather in Reis Hall to pet, hug and play with several of Allegheny’s therapy dogs. This month Isaac, Lily and Danny welcomed their visitors with the always happy attitude dogs have.

The program began eight years ago when Dr. Yvonne Eaton-Stull brought her now 12 year old lab, Maggie, to campus. Maggie has worked as a service dog before coming to campus. Eaton-Stull and Maggie have responded to national disasters and crises.

“In order to come to campus, therapy dogs must be credentialed with a national organization,” said Eaton-Stull.

“I am the person who coordinates the events and invites specific dogs, usually after I have observed their temperament and feel good about their interaction with our students.”

Debbie Myers is the owner of Isaac, the bear-sized black newfoundland. She is also the owner of three other dogs who are also certified to work as therapy dogs.

“Dogs have to be a year old to get certified,” said Myers, adding that Isaac is three years old. She and her dogs have been visiting campus for the past two years.

Sue Anderson has spent seven years in the program with her three dogs. This month she brought Danny, a collie, who is three and a half years old. Anderson and Myers are a part of the Bark Park program that travels between Edinboro and Greenville, Pa.

Mike Smyntek sat by as students cuddled Lily, his four and a half year old pug. Lily is his first therapy dog.

“She recently became certified last fall…technically three months ago,” Smyntek said.

Eaton-Stull decides which dogs visit campus each month after watching the dogs’ temperaments around different students.

The next time students can interact with the dogs is March 2.

 Isaac, a newfindland that likes press his whole body against his visitors, is a regular during campus visits.
Meghan Hayman
Isaac, a newfoundland that likes press his whole body against his visitors, is a regular during campus visits.