TOTO exists to provide a therapy dog presence on-campus by calling for staff and faculty volunteers to take their dogs through training for therapy certification. Dogs who have achieved certification with Canine Good Citizen (CGC) are eligible and their handlers can apply for the TOTO program and interview with the TOTO Advisory Board. Upon acceptance, TOTO works with volunteers to train for and pass evaluations for therapy work with the national Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) organization. Once certified with ATD, volunteers work with TOTO to create individual schedules for the dogs to come to campus, visiting students in the volunteers’ own offices, at special events, and on an “as needed” basis in conjunction with OC’s counseling center and student success services.
TOTO seeks to improve mental health, lower stress and anxiety, and provide emotional support for OC students by providing regular and frequent access to trained therapy dogs.
What is a therapy dog?
A therapy dog is trained in superior obedience skills and certified with a state or national organization for use as an emotional support tool in areas such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Therapy dogs differ from service dogs and emotional support dogs in that a therapy dog is trained not for support of the owner, but for support of others.
Why have a therapy dog?
Therapy dogs are utilized in a variety of roles throughout campus. Some dogs may be used in clinical/therapeutic settings and others will simply be used as greeters in the office and around campus. Each department and volunteer can determine how best therapy dogs can benefit the office and surrounding area.
Therapy dogs encourage and improve wellness in the workplace by reducing stress, fostering camaraderie between employees, and helping to build student/employee relationships.