Feature Story: Broncho Barkers

Carlie Deatherage, Assistant Director of Health Promotion and Outreach

In recent years, stores and restaurants have become more dog-friendly, accommodating our furry friends instead of turning them away. You might have noticed several dogs on campus lately and are wondering what that is all about. While there may be many dog-lovers on campus, there’s something special about these dogs and why they’re here.

Studies have shown that animal/human interactions have positive benefits for both animal and human. The Center for Counseling and Well-Being manages two therapy dog programs on campus – Stress Paws and Broncho Barkers. First of all, it’s important to note that therapy dogs are different from service animals, emotional support pets, etc. Learn more information about these classifications and accommodations on our website.

Stress Paws takes place each Thursday afternoon from 3-5 p.m. on the 4th floor of the Nigh. Therapy dogs are brought in by an organization called HALO for students, and sometimes staff, to provide a moment of joy– a pause from the stress of the day if you will. Get it? Stress “paws”? See what we did there?

The Broncho Barkers program launched in 2018 and is still growing here on campus. The first Broncho Barker was the legendary Kevin the Greyt, a retired racing greyhound. He recently moved out of state (yes, we miss him too!), but his Broncho Barker legacy lives on in the program. The goal of this program is to enhance physical and emotional health, contribute to the success of staff and student well-being, retention and overall experience at UCO.

You can spot a Broncho Barker by their blue Broncho Barker bandana and official UCO name tag. Broncho Barkers are certified therapy dogs and have gone through an extensive interview process to be on campus. If you see one of these therapy dogs on campus feel free to say hi and show them some love with some pets and scratches! If you would like to request a Broncho Barker to come to your office, class or event please submit requests to https://uco.campuslabs.com/engage/submitter/form/start/279723. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, please email healthpromotion@uco.edu.

Broncho Barkers appreciates your love and support in helping our campus #BeWellBronchos!

As a reminder, only dogs specifically recognized by Broncho Barkers and service animals identified as service animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act are allowed in campus buildings. Disability Support Services-approved emotional support animals are restricted to residential housing. Other than in the case of these limited exceptions, pets and emotional support animals are not to be in campus buildings.


Carlie Deatherage, Assistant Director of Health Promotion and Outreach

Carlie Deatherage is the assistant director of Health Promotion and has worked at UCO for 2 and a half years. Carlie received a master’s in public health from OU and a bachelor’s in kinesiology from UCO. Riley is our newest Broncho Barker, certified as a therapy dog in 2019. He is a 9-year old Australian Shepard and former farm dog. Carlie and Riley both enjoy going on long walks, road trips and peanut butter.