Campus’ Most Fluffy Event: Pause for Paws
By Veronica Brinkley
Every month, dozens of students gather in the rotunda to destress with dogs during Pause for Paws, an event hosted by the University featuring dogs from Therapy Dogs International. While many other campus events struggle to get a turnout, these calming canines garner crowds of adoring students – especially during midterms and finals. Dogs have a powerful, innate ability to calm and soothe almost anyone, making therapy dogs’ work key in these stressful situations. But who exactly are our therapy dog regulars? The dogs themselves did not have much to say on this matter, so I turned to their owners for comment on these elusive, fluffy characters. The following highlights just a bit about each dog. If these profiles pique your interest, make sure to attend the next Pause for Paws event in the rotunda on December 6!
7-year-old Golden Retriever owned by Cheri
Henry is an old soul. Despite being only seven, which is roughly middle age for a dog his size, he has a wise and endearing presence. He is just happy to be here, being pet by a dozen eager hands at once. Henry’s owner, Cheri, tells me about him with an excited smile, as happy to share as I am to listen. “I think my favorite thing about him is just how loving and sweet he is, but also how intuitive he is with other people and their needs. And he can be around somebody who’s stressed out and is having a hard time and he will go over to that person. I’ve seen it a couple different times that were really dramatic.”
Outside of his important therapy work, Henry takes his athletics very seriously. According to Cheri, “It’s all about swimming.” He was born with a minor hip issue, and the vet suggested swimming as a preventive exercise. Henry immediately took to it. “He’s been doing it since he was six months, and he loves it. I mean when he goes up the ramp, he jumps in the water with all four legs spread,” Cheri told me, gesturing widely to imitate his jump. This talented swimmer loves eating all kinds of fruit, but Henry’s absolute favorite is watermelon. Notably, he does not like celery, lettuce, or spinach. When pressed for comment, Henry was unable to substantiate these claims.
I encourage every single one of you to stop by the rotunda and meet Henry yourself. Sweet, kind, and the perfect temperament for therapy work, Henry is all around a beautiful soul. He is also a Scorpio, if that helps.
3-year-old Golden Retriever owned by Bob
When I first walked into the rotunda, I was immediately drawn to Cody’s youthful energy. He and his owner, Bob, sat to the side of the room, patiently waiting for the first round of students. Cody was calm but excited, clearly aware he was about to be the star of the show. He even had his very own business card. “Greatest accomplishment: becoming a therapy dog on the first try,” it read. Enthusiastic to answer my questions, his owner, Bob, explained that he’s done therapy dog work for 25 years and Cody is his fifth dog. “You name it, we’ve visited there. Retirement communities, children’s hospitals. I was at a children’s hospital for 15 years. Rehab centers, inpatient and outpatient, memory care units.” Calm and collected, Cody exudes therapy dog expertise. Bob tells me, however, that Cody at home is a different story.
In proper golden retriever fashion, he talks with feet, Bob testified, and at home he is a rambunctious bundle of energy, ready to tumble around the yard at a moments notice. Cody enjoys swimming, playing tug, chasing squirrels, and playing with other dogs (shocking, I know). His favorite food is apple slices and he can tell if you have one from a mile away. Unlike most Goldens, Cody is a dog of international proportions. “He was born in Croatia,” Bob tells me. Cody was flown over 4,000 miles all the way to Snohomish. Next time you visit Cody, just remember how easily he could have ended up somewhere on the other side of the world and how lucky we are that he is here instead!
Annie and Baron
6-year-old English Sheep Dogs owned by Robert & Angel
With the crowd that encircled Annie and Baron as they entered the rotunda, you might have thought Taylor Swift had just made an appearance on campus. The pair are six-year-old English Sheep Dogs. Notably they’re not related, but very similar looking. With long and wispy white hair, neatly piled in pony tails on tops of their heads, these two radiate a royal yet gentle energy. This explains why they are a popular duo at the Pause for Paws event. Their calming temperament and natural magnetism is why their owners, Robert and Angel, do therapy work.
“We just like sharing them with people,” Robert tells me. “We’ve seen a number of circumstances over the years where they really touch people, people who are going through difficult times.” He tells a story about a time they visited an autistic child with high support needs. “We sat him down and put the dog next to him, and he started touching the dog and his face broke out into this beautiful smile and the mom burst into tears, and so I said ‘what’s going on?’ and she said he had never smiled before.” As he tells me this, he is simultaneously positioning the dogs for another photo with students, like he’s coordinating a celebrity meet and greet.
When Annie and Baron are not gracing the University with their presence, Robert tells me how they spend their days: “They love anywhere where they can run free and chase each other,” he says. “They’ll take each other down and go rolling over and over, and charge each other.” He shows me a video of the two tumbling through the snow, pouncing on each other like puppies. They’re also, importantly, big fans of vegetables. “Broccoli, asparagus, carrots, celery,” Robert says. “Open the refrigerator and open the vegetable drawer, they go nuts, they absolutely love it.” So here’s a hint: if you are hoping to win the hearts of these two at a Pause for Paws event, the produce aisle might be the right place to start.