Taking Paws to De-Stress

College can be stressful. It’s a well-known fact that between classes, extra-curricular activities, social events and jobs, college students can experience high levels of stress.

In order to help students de-stress, Central’s Center for Counseling and Well-Being hosts a weekly event “Stress Paws” with three H.A.L.O.-certified therapy dogs each Thursday from 3-5 p.m. on the fourth floor of Nigh University Center.

Human Animal Link of Oklahoma (H.A.L.O.) was founded on the belief that dogs and humans can form wonderful and mutually-beneficial relationships. H.A.L.O. is a nonprofit organization that provides animal-assisted therapy to patients, residents and students.

“We are a Central family. My husband and I met at UCO when we were 18, and our kids were Bronchos as well,” said H.A.L.O.’s Executive Director Terri Smith.

“We love being able to partner with our Alma Mater and share our therapy dogs with its students!”

Meet the Dogs


Abby is a Catahoula mix. She was adopted as a puppy and has been happily living with her handler, Grant, since. Abby works regularly at Northwood Elementary and has been certified as a therapy dog since 2012. Abby loves belly rubs and meeting new people.




Sammie, the youngest therapy dog in attendance, is a Golden Retriever. She received her certification in 2014. Sammie and her handler, Shirley, usually spend their time spreading cheer at Mercy Hospital. Sammie loves hugs and snuggling.



Gus is a Bernese Mountain Dog. As such, he comes with plenty of fur, drool and love. Gus has been certified as a therapy dog since 2014, and with his handler, Noreen, he regularly volunteers at Integris, Mercy and Oklahoma Spine Hospitals. He loves sitting on laps and posing for pictures.


Related posts:

At the Office of University Communications at the University of Central Oklahoma, we bleed bronze and blue — Pantone 116 and 282, to be exact. The University Communications staff of professionals promotes Central to the community through news releases, media relations, advertising, branding and marketing initiatives, publications and electronic media — and, of course, using the university's official colors (that's the Pantone 116 and 282). We believe the University of Central Oklahoma is a thriving, opportunity-rich institution located in one of the best metropolitan areas in the country with innovative students, faculty and staff who make a difference in our world. It is our pleasure to share the Central story with you.