Sit. Stay. Smile.

By Rianne Coale • Journalism major, Class of 2014

Are you stressed out by finals week? Do you need to take a break from all your studying? Or do you simply miss your family pet and want a friendly companion to talk to?

Then let Tivo lend you a helping paw.

Tivo, a 5-year-old purebred black Labrador retriever, is the newest addition to the Wellness Center at Loyola University Chicago and is trained specifically to be a best friend whenever he’s needed.

Tivo joined the Wellness Center team last year and is ready to work and assist anywhere he is needed around campus. He was rescued from an animal shelter as a puppy, and after extensive training, he became a licensed therapy dog.

“When he was a younger dog he did the TOPS obedience course at the canine training center for obedience,” said Joan Holden, Tivo’s official holder/trainer. “Then he worked at the sheriff’s department for a three-week obedience training. He lived with me over the summer, and I went through three more training sessions.”

Research has shown that people are drawn to pets and animals, and the Wellness Center is using that information to find new ways to engage with students on campus.

Diane Asaro, the Wellness Center director, couldn’t be happier with Tivo.

“Tivo’s job description includes being loved and playing,” Asaro said. “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.”

Tivo is a hardworking dog and even has his own program, Talk with Tivo, where he visits places around campus for an hour each week with a counselor to connect with students. Counselors may bring him into counseling sessions and incorporate him into the therapy process.

“I think that dogs can help in so many ways,” said David deBoer, associate director and clinical psychologist at the Wellness Center. “Many students have left loved family pets at home, so Tivo can be a kind of surrogate pet or transitional object for students missing their dogs.

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

When Tivo isn’t out saving the world, he lives with Father Justin Daffron in Campion Hall. After a long day with a rigorous schedule that starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends around 6 p.m., Tivo is free to go home to Campion, where he enjoys an evening filled with fetching his favorite ball and running in his grassy play yard on Sheridan Road.

The Wellness Center approached Daffron with the idea of a therapy dog, and when he moved into Campion Hall this fall, “the Wellness Center re-approached me, and asked if I would be willing to take Tivo,” he said.

“That is when the relationship was formed. I had never had a dog before, and I wanted to help the Wellness Center,” Daffron said. “I think it is just great to have him there, and he is able to help students in ways that we can’t.”