Hounds in the Hall connects students with therapy dogs on campus

A group of students gather in the front of New Residence Hall to pet Bugsy the cocker spaniel Monday, during Hounds in the Hall, a Counseling and Consultation Services event.

By Taher Zeitoun

DeKALB — Counseling and Consultation Services is partnering with various dog owners to offer students a chance at stress, anxiety and depression relief with Hounds in the Hall.

The partnership and organization of the event is set up by Angela Kaminski, social worker and outreach coordinator for Counseling and Consultation Services.

Riley Klink, practicum therapist with Counseling and Consultation Services, said she enjoys attending the events to help guide students to the dogs and talking to them about the services offered by her department.

“It’s such an upbeat outreach event, and it’s fun to see the students walk in and have their faces light up when they see the dogs,” Klink said.

Klink said Hounds in the Hall offers much more than just enjoyment for students. She said the dogs offer a relaxing presence for the students which allows them to connect with home.

“Dogs are so therapeutic,” Klink said. “Their calm presence and having [that] ability to have a physical touch helps students who might experience hard times being away from their families and family dogs for the first time.”

David Hall, trainer and owner of therapy dogs GeGe and Charlie, said the puppies have to go through about six months of training and pass 16 tests. He said passing these tests allows the dogs to be certified by Therapy Dogs International.

Hall said GeGe and Charlie began their healing after he attended a destress event at NIU. Gege has been coming to NIU since she was 2 years old, and he is hoping NIU will give Gege her graduate degree when she turns 8 this May.

Hall said Gege and Charlie also bring joy to patients at Kishwaukee Northwestern Hospital though the Healing Paws Team. He said Gege preforms occupational therapy for an autistic child and is a volunteer for the DeKalb police department.

Brandyn Jay, junior mechanical engineering major, said he enjoyed the convenience of being able to play with the therapy dogs on campus. He also said having these dogs visit campus provides mental health benefits for students.

“There have been so many measured scientific benefits in regard to students playing with therapy dogs. It calms them down and helps reduce anxiety,” Jay said.