A New Kind of Dog Therapy Thrives at Susquehanna University
SELINSGROVE—How does a university help new students beat bouts of homesickness? At Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., the power of the wagging tail prevails.
September brings Dog Days to Susquehanna, a pup-centered strategy for helping freshmen and transfer students feel more at home. Dog Days are a clever way to help undergraduates beat homesickness and connect with new (drooling) best friends. Sponsored by the university’s Counseling Center, the program invites faculty and staff to bring their beloved dogs to a common area on campus—right outside the building where students come and go for dinner—every Tuesday in September. The looks on new students’ faces make clear just how comforting this kind of comfort can be.
“Students are very attracted to the dogs and puppies, and it provides us an opportunity to have informal conversations with those who may or may not be in our classes or programs,” said Anna Beth Payne, associate dean and director of the Counseling Center.
Dog Days is just one canine-centered tradition at Susquehanna, a national liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania. In 2008, a Labrador Retriever named Ross was granted honorary alumnus status for serving then-student/owner Christina Fegley, who has muscular dystrophy, throughout her years on campus. And on Oct. 3, the university welcomes John Grogan, author of “Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog,” to speak about the many lessons his unruly animal companion taught him during his life.
Since dogs are the ideal icebreaker, the entire campus community is invited to Dog Days, accompanied or not by a canine. “Dog Days is a unique and well-loved tradition at SU,” said Payne, adding that she and her fluffy white bichon frisé, Finley, “are ready to go!”
Founded in 1858, Susquehanna University prepares students for achievement, leadership and service in a diverse, interconnected world. Academic excellence, study away and service learning, student-faculty collaboration, and rich opportunities for creative and personal growth are hallmarks of a Susquehanna University education. Susquehanna students come from 30 states and 12 countries, and more than 90 percent of them find jobs or pursue graduate study within six months of graduation. The university is located along the banks of the scenic Susquehanna River, about three hours from major East Coast cultural, financial and recreational centers. For more information, visit www.susqu.edu.
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Karen M. Jones