America’s dogs have grabbed the spotlight in a world turned upside down by COVID-19. They are becoming digital stars on social media and video conferencing applications such as Zoom, where canine voices and faces are becoming part of a new normal.
Pete’s Pet Posse at Oklahoma State University is making the best of this new opportunity, changing its regular pet therapy campus visits into virtual sessions. Pete’s Pet Posse is the nation’s premier university pet therapy program with more than 60 teams on three OSU campuses in Stillwater and Tulsa. With the physical campuses shut down, OSU students, faculty, staff and visitors can now sign up for virtual pet therapy via video conferencing with their favorite dogs.
“We are stretching the bounds of technology and canine relationships to put this platform together to continue offering pet therapy for our campus,” said OSU first lady Ann Hargis, a co-founder of Pete’s Pet Posse. “The dogs are thrilled to don their Pete’s Pet Posse vests to digitally reconnect with our campus community from the owners’ living rooms and laps. The pet therapy teams are available to discuss how they are spending their quarantine time and encourage students and employees to express any fears or concerns that are arising in this challenging time.”
“Our team at OSU University Counseling traditionally works closely with Pete’s Pet Posse, and I’m always amazed by the dog’s ability to reach human beings on a level even trained counselors can’t often reach,” said Trevor Richardson, OSU director of counseling and sport psychology. “There is something about a dog’s unwavering acceptance that helps people open up about their problems — even if they can’t pet the dog because of social distancing. We applaud the Pete’s Pet Posse teams for finding ways to continue to serve our campus in this very unique time of need by allowing virtual pet therapy into their homes.”
Virtual pet therapy sessions are at 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. To register, go to the Oklahoma State University Facebook site and click on the Pete’s Pet Posse virtual pet therapy link. If sessions are full, visitors can tune in live on OState.tv.
Pete’s Pet Posse, an integral part of OSU’s wellness commitment as America’s Healthiest Campus, will resume its regular pet therapy sessions when the OSU campuses reopen.