A furry friend is back for a second year helping Okanagan College Students through her role as the campus therapy dog.
The 107 lb canine with the piercing blue eyes and long white fur is named Woof.
Woof became the therapy dog for the college’s Salmon Arm campus after being adopted by Taryn Schmid the librarian. Soon after adopting her, Schmid found that Woof is completely deaf and suffers from seizures; also immediately clear was the close bond the dog forms with people. This love led Schmid to get Woof certified as a therapy dog through St. John’s Ambulance.
In the fall of 2018, Schmid began slowly introducing Woof to the campus, taking careful consideration that not everyone in the community is a dog lover.
“I had concerns for people who aren’t into dogs,” Schmid said.
According to Okanagan College staff, members of the college community responded well to Schmid walking Woof around campus, and the conversations the dog initiated solidified her role as a therapy animal.
“It’s surprising how a dog opens the door for a variety of conversations,” Schmid said. “Everything from bullying to anxiety issues, to the enjoyment and love of pets.”
After no concerns arose with Woof’s presence during the fall semester, Schmid started bringing the dog into the library; students are able to book time with Woof so she can do what she does best, offer comfort through her gentle nature.
“She is extremely well-trained,” Caroline Chartier, Aboriginal Transitions Planner on the Salmon Arm campus said of the dog. “She has an innate ability to visit just the right person. Nearly every day it seems we have someone coming to look for her.”
“There’s also been a noticeable increase in students with anxiety issues over the last few years and Woof makes a difference for these students,” Schmid added.
Schmid said she anticipates an increase in visits with Woof and wants everyone at the college to know the dog is on hand for cuddly companionship this fall.