Hundreds queue to see therapy dogs


Sophomore Danica Depenhart gets a greeting from therapy dog Ella Oct. 31 in Biddle Hall.

Bri Aultz, Copy Editor

Hundreds of students, faculty and staff gathered to visit with therapy dogs Friday in Biddle 101.

The event was sponsored by the Delta Epsilon Iota honor society and Golden Girls Pet Therapy.

Around 1 p.m., Delta community service chair Ellory Dabbs arrived with Olive, her golden retriever.

Dabbs said she met Olive when the dog was three weeks old, and had a feeling that she would be a great therapy dog. She said she works with Golden Girls Pet Therapy and other volunteers to help people.

The pair visits hospitals, nursing homes and support groups. They also go to libraries, where children read to them.

Dabbs said that every day with Olive is rewarding, because of the work they do together, which includes visiting critical care hospital patients.

“You can actually see their heart rate go down; you can see them relaxing on the monitors,” she said

As the large crowd waited, each was required to sign a waiver, per Student Life’s policy.

Standing outside the Biddle classroom, Delta president Garrett Bowers said he did not anticipate such a large turnout. The entire hallway outside was packed door-to-door.

He said the event’s purpose was to promote relaxation.

“Students are constantly busy and typically stressed, especially at this time in the semester,” Bowers said.

Freshmen Tom Naughton and Valerie Delk said they are both missing dogs back home, so the event provided an additional benefit.

Sophomore Danica Depenhart is not a dog owner, but said she loves dogs. She joked as she signed her waiver, saying the reason it was needed was so she wouldn’t steal the dogs.

Depenhart said she would have waited for hours in the long line, and hopes to see similar events on campus again.

Volunteer Sherri Nicoletti said she hopes to introduce her 8 month old collie, Ella, into dog therapy. She has two other therapy dogs at home.

Volunteer Mindy Leonard brought her English springer spaniel Elli to the event. She said they visit Windber Hospital patients weekly and attend library readings with Dabbs and Olive.

Delta co-advisor Penny Suwak said the group decided to bring dogs to campus to help relieve stress.

She said there was no cost involved for bring the therapy dogs to campus.

Suwak said while she is not currently a pet owner, she considers herself an animal lover.

“My dog Maggie was 19 years old when she passed last year. I look forward to being a pet owner again.”

Both Bowers and Suwak said they believe this is the first event of its kind.

Stepping out of Biddle 101 after the event, junior Lauren Case said she felt happier and less stressed.