Bella the Bulldog is the newest addition to the CCS staff. Photo by Jada Gangazha.
RYANN BAHNLINE | PERSONAL JOURNALIST | [email protected]
Advisory and consulting services, CCS, introduced a new four-legged friend last summer, Bella the Bulldog. Bella is a 6 year old English bulldog who joinedScooterthe 3-year-old Cavachon, as a second therapy dog available to students.
Christine Kiray, assistant director of CCS, adopted Bella two years ago while living in Chicago. Kiray had a crush when she found Bella and knew she had to adopt her.
“I was actually an intern at CCS in 2017 and 2018,” Kiray said. “So after that, I became obsessed with bulldogs, and I [thought]’I must have a bulldog.’
When Kiray was hired at CCS last year, the animal-assisted therapy program was already up and running with Scooter. animal-assisted therapy uses animals in targeted treatment sessions to build relationships, increase motivation and reduce stress in patients.
Bella needed to get past her Canine Good Citizen Test in order to be part of the animal-assisted therapy program. After gaining approval from CCS, Kiray and Bella went through the eight-month training process, which ended with Bella passing the exam with flying colors. Since this summer, Bella has been working alongside Scooter.
After her months of schooling, Bella now spends her days at the CCS office and joins the students for therapy sessions.
“She’s great with students,” Kiray said. “…she loves being petted. She hops on the couch during sessions with the students and snuggles next to them.
Kiray said Bella loves running around and seeing people in the office, but also has a sneaky and mischievous side.
“She has an alter ego named Marge,” Kiray said. “Marge is when she gets a little rambunctious. She likes to play with all of Scooter’s toys…she’ll run around his office and eat his food and steal his toys, so that’s when Marge comes out.
When Bella isn’t stealing Scooter’s toys or food, she helps the students in group or one-on-one therapy sessions. Part of his role is to attend the weekly Scooter and Friends sessions.
Scooter and Friends is an open group accessible to all students who want to get away from the craziness of college for a while, or just need a little dog petting. This group meets every Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. in room 120 of the HRC Counseling Office.
During group sessions, toys and blankets are laid out, and students have the chance to play and snuggle with Bella and Scooter. Kiray said the 50-minute sessions served as a break for students and an escape from stressors that might affect them.
Sophomore exploratory major Hannah Baer began attending Scooter and Friends sessions this semester. Baer said she heard about it through a post on scooter instagram and showed up one day.
“I can hang out with Scooter and then Bella,” Baer said. “They are the sweetest things ever. It’s really cool.”
Scooter and Bella have also made their presence known at various outreach events. Both dogs have matching strollers they go around the campus.
“We go around with their strollers and people light up when they see Bella, not expecting a dog in the stroller,” Kiray said. “She’s just all wrinkled and kinda cute…it’s really nice to see people light up and [hear] people say, ‘Oh, that made my day… I needed it today.’ »
Ollie Sikes, second major in acting and creative writing, follows Scooter on Instagram and sees many benefits in adding another therapy dog to the CCS.
“First of all, it’s good branding because our mascot is the bulldog…” Sikes said. “I also think animals are very good for therapy in general because they listen and give you a moment to breathe.”
Baer said students can go visit the dogs if they’re having a tough day to feel like they have a part of their home here at Butler, and having dogs available at CCS for that purpose is a great resource. .
“We’re so busy and we have a lot of intense stuff that we navigate and deal with day to day,” Kiray said. “It’s important for the students… to have a moment to relax and laugh about [Bella].”
Kiray wanted to highlight the importance of animals in relation to student morale. Kiray said animals will always be there to love you and make you smile.