Shelley Doherty and Jessie at the Dog Squad ceremony to welcome new dogs to the team. Photo credit: Baylee Clark

Algonquin College’s Student Commons was filled with fury friends and smiling faces on the afternoon Monday, Jan. 27.

A special ceremony welcomed 11 new “therapy dogs” to the Dog Squad program, now a group of 18 dogs and employees. This event came one year after the original start of the Squad, which had just seven dogs in January 2019.

There are also service dogs on campus, but there is a clear difference to watch for. The therapy dogs can be found on campus wearing green vests with clear identification: Algonquin College, Dog Squad.

“Green jackets mean those dogs can be approached, pet and they love the attention,” said Shelley Doherty, project manager for ITS department at Algonquin College.

Doherty spends her days on campus with Jessie, seven-year-old, white, female, British Bulldog. Jessie has been part of the Dog Squad since the start of the squad.

“Working with Jessie is great,” Doherty said. “As soon as the green vest is put on, she is at the door ready to go see students and then when she comes back, she sleeps under my desk.”

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Shelley Doherty and Jessie receive certificate for being a Dog Squad member for one full year. Photo credit: Baylee Clark

Jessie is just one of many friendly members on the Squad.

Leo is a Yorkshire Terrier, the smallest dog in the program. The twelve-year-old dog is owned by Joanne Kalman, finance and special projects employee at Algonquin College. Leo is very lovable and enjoys interacting with everyone.

After the ceremony, the Dog Squad set out onto campus to meet students. Everyone walked around with their cameras and their phones, taking pictures and videos of all the excitement.

Elise Latimer, a first-year library and information technician student, stopped in to see the dogs and take a quick homework break.

“I wish it could happen every week,” she said. “It was an awesome time. All the dogs are so cute – great names.”