Therapy dogs visit the library to help students with mental health

In memory of Bumble the therapy dog

Skyler Schad

More stories from Skyler Schad

If you’re asking me
October 4, 2023

Photo by Skyler Schad

Koda the therapy dog is always happy to meet new friends.

It’s getting close to finals, and McIntyre Library is hosting therapy dogs for the rest of the month in order to help students with their mental health.

Its Instagram highlights the multiple dogs who are paying visits to the library. Different dogs will be hanging around throughout the next two weeks.

Ashley Krueger, second-year elementary education major and associate at the McIntyre Library Front Desk, said she loves seeing how happy the therapy dogs make everyone and that seeing their smiles when they walk in is one of the best things.

“I think it’s very important to have therapy dogs because it really helps people decompress from their classes and all the stress that builds up,” Krueger said. “It’s very nice to have a dog that can help with that.”

Krueger said she loves that students can have the therapy dogs to look forward to, especially during finals. She said she thinks it’s really important that we have mental health resources like this on campus.

“A lot of people struggle with mental health,” Krueger said. “And just to know that the campus is there to help and there to provide these resources is really nice to know that they care.”

Krueger hopes that students will get a bit of joy out of their day while visiting the therapy dogs and get away from the stress of school. Krueger said students can look to the dogs for happiness, especially when they miss their own dogs.

Emily Riechers, UW-Eau Claire alumni and nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic, brings her dog Koda to the library. Riechers said she decided to put Koda in dog therapy classes before getting him certified as a therapy dog in March 2020.

Riechers said she reached out to the staff of McIntyre Library and asked to add Koda to the list of therapy dogs in December 2021.

Riechers said she loves seeing the smiles Koda brings to their faces and that she can always see the excitement on students’ faces as they walk through the door.

“When people start to pet him, you can just kind of see how their body relaxes and they’re just happy,” Riechers said. “They’re happy to see a dog and pet a dog.”

Riechers said she thinks it’s important to have dog therapy at UW-Eau Claire because it helps to reduce stress and anxiety for students and faculty, especially in preparation for finals.

“It gives people a few seconds of something else to focus on and reduces some of that stress and anxiety,” Riechers said.

Riechers said mental health is a large issue for students and society as a whole and that just bringing therapy dogs in can make a huge impact.

“When we’re on the college campuses, we hear ‘this made my day’ or ‘I so needed this, I just came out of a really hard test,’” Riechers said.

Riechers hopes students have a good experience visiting the therapy dogs, with their fluffy ears, kisses and occasional shakes, which she said is always a bonus.

This story is in memory of Bumble the Therapy Dog.

Kruger said Bumble was a great dog and that he was so sweet and she misses him a lot.

“He liked everybody and he would always go around and sniff everybody,” Krueger said. “I loved watching him come in. He enjoyed it a lot.”

Riechers said she wishes Bumble the best and that she and Koda miss him.

“The dogs talk to each other, even after they have passed on to the rainbow bridge,” Riechers said. “I’m sure Koda is saying, ‘run free, chase squirrels, I’m living my best life down here and I’ll eventually join you.’”

Riechers said that she and Koda hope Bumble rests in peace.

“Dogs only live a short life, for reasons unknown to us, but some of it is because they are already born with the unconditional love that humans have to learn over the course of their lifetime,” Riechers said.

Schad can be reached at [email protected].