Scooter the therapy dog joins Counseling and Consultation Services. Photo by Miriam Rimawi.
KATIE FREEMAN | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
A four-legged friend has joined the HRC Counseling and Consultation Services staff. Scooter, a therapy dog, will now be assisting some counseling appointments at the HRC.
Scooter is a male, black and white hypo-allergenic Bichon-Frise Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix. He has been certified as a Canine Good Citizen and S.T.A.R. Puppy by the American Kennel Club and has passed the Alpha K9 University Advanced Obedience test.
Shana Markle, associate director of the Counseling and Consultation Center, also doubles as Scooter’s owner.
Due to Markle’s heavy caseload, Scooter is available on an appointment-only basis. Scooter will aid Markle with her clients in their therapy sessions. If students attend therapy with another counselor, they can arrange to have Scooter stop by during their counseling session.
Students who do not regularly attend counseling have the opportunity to meet Scooter through the Let’s Talk program, a group therapy session held in the HRC Counseling Services living room on Mondays from 1-2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m.
Markle said she originally had the idea to use Scooter as a therapy dog last September. Since then, she has received approval from the Vice President of Student Affairs and the Butler Human Resources University Council.
“We are really grateful that the university is willing to let us start this new program,” Markle said. “He was very popular with the first-year students. He’s been received very well so far.”
Counseling Services is taking measures to ensure that students with allergies or a fear of dogs still feel comfortable in the HRC. Scooter is hypo-allergenic, and there is a notice posted on the Counseling Services door to alert visiting students of his presence. No student is forced to interact with Scooter during their session, so he may be removed from the room if specifically requested by a student.
Scooter’s presence is encouraging to some students who are considering attending counseling at the HRC.
Sophomore history major Kam Weese has regularly attended counseling at the HRC in the past.
“The first sessions are always really awkward, so I can see how a dog in the room would make it more open and comforting,” Weese said.
Paige Pierce, a sophomore entrepreneurship and innovation major, said the presence of a therapy dog at the HRC would encourage her to attend counseling sessions.
“It wouldn’t be the only reason that I would go, but I really miss my dogs at home, and I think it’s cool that you could attend therapy and see a dog at the same time,” Pierce said.
Students can sign up for a free counseling appointment at the Counseling and Consultation Services office or by calling their office at 317-940-9385.