Every semester around the time everyone starts preparing for finals, Alden Library facilitates visits with therapy dogs on campus for students. Whether they are stressed from their workload, miss their own pets or a little bit of both, many students are excited to see the dogs.
Due to the pandemic, there was a hold on bringing the dogs to campus. Jen Harvey, events coordinator for university libraries, said there was an attempt to do virtual visits in the 2020 Fall Semester. While some people took advantage of the virtual visits, seeing the dogs’ faces on a screen wasn’t the same.
That following spring, they were able to have the dogs at Wolfe Garden, located across from the fourth floor entrance to the library. Using the outdoor space allowed for people to come see the dogs and stay socially distanced, easing concerns related to COVID-19.
The activities Alden Library puts on every semester are focused on self-care and wellness, and Harvey feels the therapy dogs fit in perfectly with that. Harvey has been working with the dogs’ human, Rinda Scoggan, for a long time to bring the dogs to campus.
“Rinda has been bringing her therapy dogs here since before I started as events coordinator,” Harvey said. “I’ve been lucky enough to continue that relationship with her. We have expanded it a little bit more, asking her to visit more often. She also now brings them to the music and dance library.”
Scoggan, assistant training director for Counseling and Psychological Services, or CPS, has been at Ohio University since 2014. She previously worked at Marietta College, where she started her dog around campus in a similar fashion to what she does at OU.
Aside from bringing the dogs to campus for finals, she has been invited to bring them to various resident halls for things like “S’mores and dogs” and “Painting and dogs” activities. Scoggan holds counseling sessions through CPS and brings the dogs a couple of days a week but enjoys being able to bring them to more events on campus, so they are able to reach a lot more students.
“I really needed to let off some steam before I started studying for finals,” Chanise Kimbley, a freshman studying psychology, said. “I haven’t gotten to have any experience with animals since I’ve been on campus, so I’m always down to hang out with some animals.”
The two dogs brought to the “Finals by Alden” events were named Dug and Penny. Dug is a 7-year-old golden retriever, and Penny is a 3-year-old Aussiedoodle. Dug was born on St. Patrick’s Day and is very laid-back. Penny, on the other hand, is very curious and was certified right before the pandemic hit, so she has been re-training to sharpen up her in-public social skills.
“I’ve had students just hug them and cry because they haven’t seen their own dog for a long time,” Scoggan said. “I think it’s really a unique service to offer, and I love being able to do that, so I love that OU works with me and allows me to do this.”
Kaitlyn Kriska, a freshman studying integrated social studies, thinks having the dogs is a great thing that OU does and was grateful to go see the dogs because of how much she misses hers.
“This is phenomenal, I’m so glad the university is putting this on,” Kriska said. “I miss my dog a lot.”
There will be a visit with the therapy dogs Monday in the CoLab on the third floor of Alden Library from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday in the Music and Dance Library on the fifth floor of Glidden Hall from 11 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.