Nor’Wester Comfort Dogs Visit Bucks


Lulu Berndlmaier

Under the direction of Jennifer Osinski, Deborah Hoelper, and the Bucks Accessibility Office, the Nor’Wester Therapy Dog organization partnered with our Newtown Campus to provide therapy dog teams for emotional support for students and faculty.

On March 1, 2022, the group came to the Bucks with two adorable dogs and the response was incredible.

The dogs were in an open area in the next to the Gallagher Room, in the Rollins Center. These loving animals sat there with their owners, waiting to be pet, played with, and loved.

Many students came by, stopping in to pet the pups.

Alan Beck, ScD, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University says, “Petting your cat or dog feels good. It can lower your blood pressure, helps your body release a relaxation hormone, and cuts down on the levels of a stress hormone.”

“Come pet a puppy, it’s good for your blood pressure,” says Jennifer Osinski, Director of the Accessibility Office, as students walked past.

Osinski says that the Nor’Wester therapy dogs come a total of eight times a school year. With many of these visits coming during stressful times for students, like mid-terms and finals.

Nor’Wester uses registered therapy dogs to enhance the educational environment and to help motivate students in the classroom on a wide range of academic skills. Even coming into classrooms with children who have disabilities, including, life-skills, autistic support, and intensive learning support.

They also work with school guidance counselors and psychologists, to help and assist students with social and emotional support; they’re also on-call to assist grief counselors in crisis interventions.

Research has proven that the presence of a beloved pet or therapy animal can help people control their daily anxiety, improve their moods, decrease depression, and regulate emotional arousals. Therapy dogs are trained to be attentive to people’s needs and offer them unconditional love.

Often, therapy dogs can stabilize intense emotions.

According to Nor’Wester, their therapy dogs are the ideal reading and learning companions. They help to increase relaxation, listen attentively, don’t judge, laugh, or criticize.

They allow students to work at their own pace and are definitely less intimidating than their peers.

Over the next two weeks, the therapy dogs will be making a few more appearances on campus.

Anyone in need of a little time with them will find them in the area next to the Gallagher Room in the Rollins Center from 11 am to 1 pm on March 3, 7, and 9.