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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

NIU needs more therapy dogs

(Courtesy of Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University)
Chase Kaminski, ESA with Counseling and Consultation Services, sits in front of fall foliage. NIU should invest in more therapy dogs. (Courtesy of Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University)

NIU should invest in more therapy dogs because of their benefits to the mental health of the NIU community. By helping students, faculty and staff, therapy dogs can assist in developing healthy mentalities throughout NIU. 

Additionally, the increasing number of permanent therapy dogs in and around NIU’s campus would be beneficial. While there is Chase, adding more dogs that are on campus could help students, staff, faculty or anyone who needs to take time to relax and destress. 

As NIU Huskies, dogs are part of students’ identity. While Mission is adorable, he is not enough to decrease the stress of all students. 

Occasionally, other therapy dogs will come to campus for special events. 

In early October, Ivan and Oscar, two therapy dogs, visited NIU’s campus and helped students de-stress during midterms. While the Great Pyrenees and Newfoundland were great temporary help to a stress-filled week, they were just that – temporary. 

We have Chase on campus more frequently in the Counseling and Consultation Services office usually on Tuesdays and Fridays. 

His owner, Angela Kaminski, is an NIU clinical social worker who talked about the benefits of therapy dogs for college students. 

“I think that they’re just, there’s something about being able to pet an animal and have kind of, like, a, an increased sense of, like, calm,” Kaminski said. 

Outside of the emotional benefits, physical benefits exist when individuals interact with therapy dogs. 

“There’s research that shows that when people pet animals that they actually have like a decrease in their anxiety and stress levels and a lot of that is just shown through, like, people’s blood pressure decreases, their heart rate decreases, you know, breathing slows,” Kaminski said. 

College students are, generally, anxious and tentative to participate in classes, according to a 2021 study published by the Purdue University Press. Puppies also had positive impacts on university students, both mentally and physically, according to a 2017 study published by the University of Ottawa Press.

Additionally, Kaminski explained how students tell stories about their pets at home and how much their pets are missed.  

Luckily, Chase and Kaminski have a “Chilling with Chase” program that occurs between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Peters Campus Life Building, Room 150. There are two upcoming opportunities to attend the event: Nov. 14 and Nov. 28. 

Students should attend these events and get connected with Chase. All NIU students need to decompress both before and after Thanksgiving Break. The time around Thanksgiving is when students get homesick and taking time to chill with Chase is exactly what students need. 

While this program is a good start, it should be expanded for students, faculty and staff. The more interest that students show, the more likely NIU is to increase therapy dogs on campus. 

Whether they be scaly snakes or fluffy Pomeranians, everyone loves animals. Relationships between humans and animals are special, and there is significant merit to having connections with furry companions. 

“I definitely see in a lot of students that it (petting Chase) brightens their day,” Kaminski said. 

It is agreeable that the special events therapy dogs take part in are beneficial to NIU’s student and staff bodies. By expanding the events that include therapy dogs, students have more recognition and relationships with some furry friends.

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