Students unwind with therapy dogs

On Dasher, on Prancer, on…Brixton?

Brixton, a 31/2-year-old golden retriever, worked alongside his two king charles cavalier spaniel buddies, Dasher and Prancer last week at the first day of the semester-long Therapy Dog Tuesday program.

“We started out working in senior centers and psych wards,”  20-year-veteran therapy dog escort, Jane Twomey,  said. “But they really love coming to the college campuses. They get to be lazy and loved all at the same time. Dasher is the licker, he loves to lick everyone, and Prancer is the lazy one. He’ll lay there getting pet all day.”

Brixton has been an acting therapy dog with his owner Linda Gordon for almost his entire life. Working 3-4 events a week and sometimes 2-3 events a day, Brixton’s schedule stays busy. The events range from pre-kindergarten classrooms and college campuses, to the San Francisco International Airport. But on Tuesday, his job was to lay belly up on the grass, inviting doting students to pet him.

SF State students surround and pet Brixton, a 3-year-old golden retriever during the first Therapy Dog Tuesday of the semester on top of the Student Health Center on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. Certified therapy dogs can found on campus every first and third Tuesday of every month.

[/media-credit] SF State students surround and pet Brixton, a 3-year-old golden retriever during the first Therapy Dog Tuesday of the semester on top of the Student Health Center on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. Certified therapy dogs can found on campus every first and
third Tuesday of every month.

“He’s been doing this since he was 8 months old, and he loves it,” Gordon said. “Look! He’s surrounded by beautiful ladies petting him. He was born to do this.”

The event attracted over 50 students to the rooftop of the Student Health Services Building, some coming to receive credit for class and others coming solely to get their furry fix.

Natalie Tommasino, an 18-year-old theater major, is still adjusting to her first semester on campus. When she saw an opportunity to pet some pups to relieve her stress, she jumped on it.

“I came here because I really miss my dogs at home,”  Tommasino said. “I’m still getting used to everything out here.”

Aimee Williams is the lead health educator for the Health Promotion and Wellness Center on campus. She has seen Therapy Dog Tuesday grow from a special-events-only occurrence to a once-a-month event, to the twice-a-month program it has become today. Williams knows all the dogs that come to SF State by name and could even describe their personalities.

“They love coming here,” Williams said. “We even had a dog cancel today due to a work emergency, and the dog’s owner was so sad about missing today’s event.”

The next Therapy Dog Tuesday will take place on Oct. 4 and will continue on every first and third Tuesday of the month for the remainder of the semester. There are four dogs scheduled to appear at the next Therapy Dog Tuesday, and for the first time ever, there will also be a therapy cat.

For more information about Therapy Dog Tuesday, follow @SFStateCares on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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