Therapy dog provides relief for Lancaster County college students


A group of college students in Lancaster County are getting a break from the pressures of school to welcome a furry friend. Benny the Therapy Dog is part of a wellness program aimed at making the entire community, Pennsylvania College of Health Science and the broader community, healthier.

“He is so happy,” said Jennifer Meck.

It’s a grind for Jennifer Meck and her nursing student friends at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences. Study, study, study. That’s why Benny is such a welcome stress reliever.

“Me and all of my friends just enjoy going over to see him and pet him and stuff. Kind of makes you feel better and takes your mind off studying,” Meck said.

“To say they are feeling the pressure on a normal school day is probably an understatement,” said Stephanie Ellis, Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences.

To relieve some of that pressure, the Lancaster County based school brings in the seven-year-old Golden Retriever a few times a semester. Like a doctor stalking the ER, Benny does the rounds, bringing smiles and laughter.

“It allows them to hit the pause button on the rest of their life and just be in the moment,” Ellis said.

A certified therapy dog, Benny has been roaming the halls of the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences for about a year, gaining quite the following.

“He likes treats so I think he likes me,” said Meck.

And when the going gets tough, even the tough can smile at this face. In the end, hopefully making each student, and eventual healthcare professional, a bit more prepared for the real world.

“It’s really difficult to help someone and take care of somebody else if you are not taking care of yourself. Focusing on that for our students really sets them up for success,” Ellis said.

Aside from Benny, the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences also brings in other therapy animals during finals. Combine that with a steady diet of wellness courses like yoga and cardio kickboxing and the school hopes this will have a positive impact.

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