Ohio University Counseling and Psychological Services hired another furry friend this semester.
Dug, named after the talking golden retriever in Disney/Pixar’s Up, began seeing clients this academic year after the semi-retirement of Buddy, a 10-year-old standard poodle.
Rinda Scoggan, a senior counselor who trained both Dug and Buddy, said though Dug is only 2 years old and is new to the office, he is making significant progress as a therapy dog.
“Coming here, he wasn’t so sure about the size of the building,” she said. “But now he comes in, and he’s good about coming into the elevator now. He didn’t ride an elevator for the first time until the summer.”
She described him as being a “little shy” because he was raised by Scoggan’s son in the country and wasn’t used to being around so many people.
“Dug is slowly evolving,” she said. “He’s still a 2-year-old.”
Dug visits CPS offices on the third floor of Hudson Health Center every Monday.
“It’s helpful because some students have a dog back home, and they miss it,” Scoggan said.
“It just makes their day. They do form bonds that they love to pet him, and he’s so excited to see them. … He cares about them.”
Dug began visiting the offices in lieu of Buddy, who began experiencing arthritis associated with age. Scoggan tried giving him medicines to combat his ailments, but it just made him sick.
“I noticed at that time he had started limping last year,” she said. “I wanted him to be able to relax his body and his bones.”
Buddy’s much-needed break proved beneficial, and Scoggan noticed a renewed pep in his step.
“He’s much better,” she said. “I just think he needed to take a break. As long as he is able and as long as he wants to, I’m willing for him to come in once a month.”
Since Scoggan now has two dogs trained to help students, she said she is toying with the idea of having them come in more than one day a week.
“He really only sees the students who come in on Monday,” she said. “Some people schedule specifically on Mondays to just see him.”
Scoggan said as long as Buddy does not face any more medical problems, she would like to continue switching the two out.
“Sometimes dogs that do therapy can get a little depressed themselves,” she said. “The trainer recommended definitely switching out the dog.”
The therapy sessions are not only beneficial for the students, but also for the canines.
“A few years ago, when my kids all moved out, it was just Buddy and I,” she said. “Buddy started becoming depressed being in the house all the time. … It really helped him. He’s one that really needs to be petted, be loved on. Being in the house all day was not good for him. I just could tell there was a major difference.”
Other programs on campus exist to connect students to dogs, such as Bobcats of the Shelter Dogs which allows students to volunteer at the local dog shelter. Alden Library also hosts therapy dog visits near and during final week. Alden is hosting therapy dog events during finals week, and Dug from CPS will be the featured pup at one of the events.
Mia Chapman, a senior studying biological sciences pre-medicine, has been training a service dog named Clary since August through the OU branch program of 4 Paws for Ability. She said having dogs on college campuses is beneficial for not only students, but also all people who interact with the animals.
“As a student, it always brightens my day to see a dog because it’s a great stress relief and break from my daily activities,” she said. “Fostering a service dog has helped me realize the value that service dogs have to offer people with disabilities. These dogs are highly trained and help those who need them feel more comfortable out in public, as the dogs can help them physically and emotionally.”
Originally published for The Post on November 29, 2017.