Dr. Stacy Erickson-Pesetski and her Shih Tzu mix, Juno, snap a selfie in her office before classes.
Photo provided by MU

Dogs on Campus Help Alleviate School Stress

Emily Ewen

Every year Manchester University invites faculty and staff to bring in their dogs for a day on campus. The canines normally visit during finals week, but since Manchester students will not be here during that time, Homecoming week proved to be an ideal second choice. Students, staff, faculty, the dogs and anyone roaming the campus that day seem to take joy in the presence of animals.

Dr. Stacy Erickson-Pesetski brought her 8-year-old Shih Tzu mix, Juno. “She is small enough to wedge herself next to a desk and be held like a baby,” Erickson-Pesetski said.

Juno had the opportunity of attending two classes, offices hours and a meeting. “She loves all the attention she gets when she comes to Manchester,” Erickson-Pesetski said. “She loves just looking in the hallway for new friends and getting held all day. This was her fourth or fifth visit to campus, and she can’t wait for the next one.”

Erickson-Pesetski notes that it can be difficult to get work done, however, because of the continuous flow of visitors. But Juno makes Erickson-Pesetski happy by seeing how she impacts people. “Students miss their dogs and need some loving, and my busy colleagues all could use some cuddles,” she said. “Hugs and licks from dogs are the best.”

Brandi Chauncey, who works in Admissions, brought her dog Milo, a 16 lb. Jack Russell Terrier. “He loves attention and people,” Chauncey said. “I bring his ball and he gets to play catch all day with his new friends.” She also noted that he is exhausted when he gets home.

Chauncey says that if she gets too busy, she does not have any problems finding a willing person to watch Milo for a short time. What is the best part about having Milo on campus? “The response from the MU community when they see Milo,” Chauncey said. “Some people look at him and say ‘hi’, but it brings a smile to their face.”

Like Erickson-Pesetski, Chauncey also feels that dogs are beneficial to the MU community. “Stress levels are lightened by students when they spend time with Milo, and it helps me meet students I have not met before,” she said. Pastor Rebekah Houff brought her black lab, Kobol, who spent most of his day in the Chapel but also sat in front of the JYSC, where he received a lot of attention from students going to and from class. “He is still only 2 and a half years old, a puppy, so he gets very excited, loves people, and is great with the attention,” Houff said.

What was the best part of having her dog on campus? Houff agreed with Chauncey. “It’s probably meeting new students,” she said. “People come into Chapel, which is special to see, because some people don’t always come in often. Students are so happy and it is calming for them.”

Houff thinks that it benefits her and her dog to be on campus together. “I enjoy the opportunity for students to get to know me, make connections, and see me as the person with the black lab,” Houff said, joking. In fact, Kobol has been to every dog day at Manchester since she was born.

Lynn Miller, athletic trainer, brought her part Boxer/part Pitbull, Goose. Miller was only allowed to bring Goose to morning soccer practice because her office is a una-medical facility. “Waking up for 6 a.m. practice was a little difficult, but once he got out there with me, I think he enjoyed it,” she said. “He even had the girls soccer team feeding him treats and giving him scratches.”

Goose has had a rough life, Miller explained. “He was brought back to the pound four times, has scars on his little body, and even had another dog’s tooth embedded in his leg at one time,” she said. “Because of this, he doesn’t like to be alone.”

Miller was happy to bring him to campus to give him, as she put it, “more confidence outside of the house and around strangers.” She believes in animal therapy, too. “Animals make people relax,” she said. “As a healthcare provider, it can sometimes be difficult for people to open up to us or trust us with their care. Have a dog with me can make them want to come up to me more, fostering a better relationship between athlete and their athletic trainer.”

Students like Erica Mohr and Taylor Grehl are big fans of dog day on campus. “I wish professors could bring their dogs every day because it makes my day to see how people’s faces light up when they see a dog,” Mohr said.

Grehl agreed. “I definitely think it helps boost everyone’s spirits so I believe it could be beneficial to be done more often,” she said.