Ella Hagen, a sophomore psychology major, pets Linus outside of the Adele Coryell Hall Learning Commons on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Lab partnered with Uplifting Paws to bring therapy dogs to campus Monday as a destresser for students about one-quarter of their way through the semester.

The event was held at the north plaza of Love Library, where wagging tails and smiling students were seen enjoying the bright afternoon sun together.

“There's something about dogs that just makes you smile, no matter what mood you’re in,” Emily Maul, a sophomore psychology major who attended the event, said. “It’s such a good distraction and stress reliever.”

Ella Hagen, a sophomore psychology major, said she would come to de-stress events with dogs  “every day if she could.”

Jeff Stevens, an associate professor of psychology and director of the Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Lab, said the event was a chance to bring therapy dogs to students on campus and let them “destress from the rigors of classes.”

Stevens said the director of Uplifting Paws is a UNL alumna and former student of his, which helped with the reasoning behind partnering with Uplifting Paws.

“The connection for collaborative work was already there,” Stevens said.

Linus, an English shepherd, and Dory, an Australian shepherd mix, were the two dogs on duty for students. While they had no comments, they eagerly ran up to students, tongues lolling and eyes bright.

London Wolff, a Ph.D. student studying animal cognition, Linus’ owner and a volunteer for Uplifting Paws, said getting a dog certified as a therapy dog is no easy task. 

Wolff said Uplifting Paws ensures dogs can be in settings like the one on campus, because they “never want to put a dog in a situation where they aren’t having fun.”

“We assess the dog’s skills and ability to be out in public without getting scared or being scary,” Wolff said. “This involves meeting a dog they’ve never seen before without having a bad reaction, as well as meeting a new person while staying calmly at their owner’s side.”

Wolff also spoke more on who Uplifting Paws was as an organization, and what work they do in Lincoln.

“Service dogs take so much time and energy to create that they are almost prohibitively expensive for the people who need them, so we take normal dogs from local nonprofits, humane societies and pounds,” Wolff said.

Wolff explained how Uplifting Paws does temperament testing to find the right dogs for the job. Once dogs are trained, the organization provides them to members of the community in need for a more reasonable price. 

Cassie Collins, a member of Uplifting Paws’ board of directors who brought Dory to the event, said the main goal was to bring out the dogs to say hello to students. There are around 20 therapy teams in Lincoln, she said, with many servicing Lincoln Public Schools and assisted living areas.

For students attending the event, there was an air of happiness and excitement at the two dogs coming to visit. Many students' faces lit up with grins when they saw the happy-go-lucky pups, and several stopped by for a pet or two on their way to or from classes. 

Kira Hall, a freshman environmental science major, said the dogs definitely helped destress from school, and the event was a good way to stop and relax for a little bit. 

Logan Trimpey, a freshman computer science major who had heard about the event from friends, said, “I think it’s a great way to destress and it’s really nice for college students because college is so stressful.”

Trimpey, Hagan and Maul all agreed it would be nice to have events like these more frequently in the future. 

Stevens said the cognition lab plans to host another event closer to finals.

“This is the first time we have tested it out early on in the semester,” Stevens said. “There is a great turnout, so we will probably look into doing it more often in the future.”