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Tag: counseling

Counseling students, one lick at a time


There’s a new counselor on the staff at Loyola University in Chicago, and he’s helping students cope with everything from homesickness to the stress of final exams.

He’s a 5-year-old black Labrador retriever, named Tivo, and he’s on duty every day at the university’s Wellness Center.

Seeing a need for a therapy dog, Loyola last year asked Tops Kennels in Grayslake to help find a candidate. The kennel suggested Tivo, who, after some additional training, became a certified therapy dog.

He’s on duty from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m, and lives with the Rev. Justin Daffron, Loyola’s associate provost for academic services.

Already immensely popular with students, college officials expect Tivo to stay busy in the week ahead, the Chicago Tribune reports. Final exams start today at Loyola, and Tivo has a way of helpling students, at least for a moment, shed some of the stress that builds up.

“They’ll come in, pet him, he’ll wag his tail, lick their faces, if they want their faces licked,” said Joan Holden, associate director of the center. “If you’re a dog lover, being with a dog makes you feel better. He’ll show his tummy, wag his tail — all the things to make you feel good.”

But Tivo doesn’t just sit in an office all day, according to an article about him in Inside Loyola.

“We use Tivo with patients for calming, for outreach in the residence halls, and to be sent out with a human counselor in hopes that students can come and pet the dog as a way to connect with the Wellness Center outside the office,” says Diane Asaro, the center’s director. “It is our first time trying it, and he has already gotten such a positive and wonderful response.”

Tivo also serves as a surrogate pet to the many students who are missing the dogs they left behind, noted David deBoer, associate director and clinical psychologist at the Wellness Center.

“Tivo really serves as a comfort, pleasure, and joy for college students; a friendly reminder of the comforts of home,” he said.

Students can keep track of where “Talk With Tivo” sessions are being held through his Facebook page.

(Photo: Tivo gives some counseling to student Marc Rosenbaum; by Mark Beane / Loyola University Chicago)

Program pairs trainers with problem dogs

Behavior problems are the main reason dogs end up in shelters, the main reason they get returned, and the main reason that some of them never get out.

So it only makes sense that helping dogs and the families that adopt them resolve those issues would lead to far more happier endings and far fewer dogs being put down.

Realizing that, Best Friends Animal Society in Utah has developed a new program in conjunction with the Monmouth County SPCA that matches dog trainers with shelters and families whose dogs have behavioral issues.

Sam Wike, the first trainer accepted into the program, is shown in this video working with Rufus, one of the first dogs referred by Best Friends’ Community Training Partner program. Wike is the lead trainer at Purr’n Pooch, a pet boarding/training/grooming facility in New Jersey.

Rufus, who was in the Monmouth County SPCA, needed a “finishing school” environment in order to be ready to be adopted, Best Friends says. Now he’s completed the training and is ready for adoption.

The main goal of the program is to lower the number of dogs returned to shelters and to counsel people considering relinquishing their dogs because of behavior issues.

When a family comes into the shelter to turn in their dog, a staff counselor sits down with them, and talks through the reasons the family is considering giving up their pet. Owners then are offered the option of training and behavior modification for their dogs, which is funded through the Best Friends program.

“We started this January working with the staff and we’ve also initiated doggy play groups with the shelter dogs,” Wike said. “The play groups help the dogs to learn how to interact appropriately with other dogs. The dogs burn off excess energy romping with each other and it’s a great showcase for their personalities when potential adopters come by the shelter,” Wike said.

Dogs help students cope with stress of finals

It has become something of a tradition on the University of Wisconsin campus — just when student stress is at its highest, final exam week, dogs show up to help them chill out.

The Pet Therapy study break on the Madison campus was held again yesterday, with staff from University Health Services bringing their dogs to the Library Mall so students can pet and play with them.

In addition to the dogs soothing frazzled nerves, counselors from the school offer advice on how to deal with finals week — including telling them that all-night cram sessions are not the way to go. A good night’s sleep will probably be more valuable.

Students at the campus in Madison can also get free one-on-one counseling, and for $40, massage therapy.

(Photo: A scene from last year’s break, The Capital Times)

Who gets the dog? Bring in the mediator

More evidence that our dogs are becoming more like our children: The emergence of the “pet custody mediator” – counselors who help couples who have called it quits work out a custody arrangement for the dog.

Tails of the City, the San Francisco Chronicle’s animal blog, had an interview with one such practitioner last week, Charles Regal.

Regal’s fee is $350 for the first hour, and $150 for each additional hour. He tries to meet with the animal, but says he keeps the pet out of the room when that actual negotiations are underway.

“It’s not a good idea to have the animal present during the mediation because it can be incredibly stressful for them. But having a photograph of the pet in the room can be an effective way of keeping the discussion focused. I like to say that there are three hearts involved. Reminding my clients of this can often help to diffuse a potentially competitive situation.”

Most often, a shared custody arrangement is worked out — at least in the case of dogs. Cats, he says, aren’t so keen on being shuttled back and forth.

When dogs come between husband and wife

A wife who has seen two dogs take her place in bed, relegating her to the couch, complained to Dear Abby this week that dogs are ruining her marriage.

As Abby points out, when dogs come between a husband and wife, it’s probably because the space between husband and wife has become so massive that it needs to be filled with something.

And, to my way of thinking, a wagging tail of the canine variety is probably one of the healthiest and least harmful options.

Here’s what the advice-seeker wrote:

DEAR ABBY: I love dogs, but they’re ruining my marriage. “Ivan” and I have been together 12 years, married for five. Six years ago he had to put his aged, sickly pointer, “Sergeant,” to sleep.

Two years ago I began suggesting that we get another dog. I thought Ivan had mourned Sergeant long enough, and it was time for another. We found a lovely King Charles spaniel that we named Lili. We spent a lot of fun time with her that spring and summer, then thought a playmate might be good company for her during the day while we were at work. We found Branford, another spaniel.

Ivan began bringing the two dogs into our bedroom.

Guess where they’re sleeping today? IN the bed. Guess where I’m sleeping? On the couch.

We haven’t been out on a date since the dogs arrived. We don’t go out with friends because we must be back by 10 p.m. — the dogs’ bedtime, and Ivan’s, too, of course. He is oblivious to me from the time he goes to bed with the dogs. We haven’t had sex in a year.

Help! — Only His Wife

“..The dogs aren’t your problem,” Abby (or whoever now writes the column now) responded. “When a man would rather sleep with his dogs than his wife and ‘forgets’ about sex for a year, something is wrong with the marriage.

“So start looking for a licensed marriage counselor. If your husband won’t go with you, go alone. Something tells me you’re going to need all the emotional support you can get, because your marriage has gone to the bowwows.”

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