Therapy Dogs at West Chester University

Have you been feeling stressed out or lonely on campus? Maybe you need a hug, but you have no one to turn to? Do you miss your furry friend who you couldn’t bring to college? If any of these questions hit close to home, WCU Dog Therapy may be for you! Located at Sykes building multiple times a week, professionally trained therapy dogs are waiting to meet you and brighten your day!

The dogs began coming to campus around 10 years ago and Muddle Puddles, (the director of the counseling centers chocolate lab,) joined the department about 5 years ago. Since then, more and more dogs have joined the group!

Photo credit: Don Wittke @tom_petty_the_golden

When can you see the therapy dogs?

The therapy dogs are on campus multiple times a week for multiple hours each visit. Attached below is a calendar of the dogs scheduled visits for the first semester. If you miss your furry friends one day, you can always see them later in the week!

Students can also request visits from the dogs to their club, organization, and even dorm floor (with RA approval)! You can submit a request and reach out for any further questions through the email [email protected]

The dogs do book up quickly so make sure to reach out ASAP if you have a request!

Meet the therapy dogs

Tom Petty:

Tom is a 2-year-old Golden Retriever who is averse in many talents- including obedience, tracking, agility, and of course making people smile. His owner Don Wittke taught Tom all his tricks! Follow Tom on Instagram.

Muddy Puddles

Muddy Puddles is owned by the director of the WCU Counseling Centers. He is located at the counseling center office Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. He attends events around campus, especially athletic activities. Muddy Puddles loves spending time with students and staff, as well as belly rubs and dog treats. You can pop by the counseling center whenever just to say hi to him! Follow Muddy Puddles on TikTok.

You can also pick up Tom Petty and Muddy Puddles merchandise in Sikes, including stickers and squishys

Many other dogs of all different breeds also visit weekly. Ask a specific dog’s owner when your favorite dog will visit next!

The mission behind dog therapy

Dog therapy is all about bettering the lives of the students and staff at WCU. Meg Hoffer-Collins is the therapy dog coordinator at WCU’s counseling center. In an interview, they describe why they are so passionate about dog therapy stating,

“I’m a huge dog person and seeing the difference they make for students…. Dog therapy makes such a difference in people’s stress levels there’s all kinds of research showing it lowers cortisol levels, the stress hormone to be able to interact with the dog. So it has these kind of like proven health benefits, and psychologically we just gravitate towards them, they’re such amazing animals. So being a part of events like this is the reason I wanted to be in this position.”

Meg Hoffer-Collins Therapy Dog Coordinator

Who knew just hanging out with dogs can severely reduce stress?!

What does it take to be Therapy Dog Certified?

The dogs must go through extensive training to become officially certified. Here are just a few of the requirements they must meet.

  • Must be at least a year old
  • Must pass their “Good Citizenship test”:  Dogs are not a danger to anyone, and they can be around other dogs and people
  • Must be able to stay with their owner walking out of sight
  • Must be calm around a wheelchair
  • Must know basic commands

What else can you find at the counseling center?

The counseling center offers many services for students’ mental and physical health, including:

  • Individual counseling: weekly sessions with a counselor throughout the semester
  • Group therapy (both structured and unstructured)
  • Outreach events
  • Workshops

The counseling center is open Monday-Friday 8-4 if you want to make an appointment or learn more about their services.

If you are interested in anything the counseling center offers, visit their website.

Social Media

If you want to stay updated on the counseling center or dog therapy, follow their social media linked below.

Therapy dog Tom Petty doing tricks at WCU