Spotted at Concordia: Newton the therapy dog!
Have you spotted the new celebrity on campus yet? Fluffy and cuddly in his new Campus Safety and Prevention Services (CSPS) uniform, Newton — a nearly six-month-old Portuguese water dog — is the latest — and cutest! — addition to the Concordia family.
Although he walks alongside CSPS agents, Newton is simply a therapy dog, not a service dog, so students are welcome to approach him and say hello. It may seem like Newton’s primary role is to accompany the agents and receive friendly pats along the way — what a gig! But in reality he’s on campus to promote wellness by helping reduce stress and anxiety levels for students, faculty and staff.
Cared for full-time by Darren Dumoulin, director of Campus Safety and Prevention Services, Newton has been specially trained and is therefore the only non-service dog allowed on campus.
“Portuguese water dogs were originally bred as working dogs on Portuguese fishing boats. They are known for their intelligence, loyalty, good-natured character, and are hypoallergenic and do not shed,” says Dumoulin.
“Newton will provide stress relief and emotional support, helping with stressful periods such as exams, or just providing comfort to students who may feel isolated, homesick or in need of a bright spot in their day between classes.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university has been seeking new ways to prevent and address rising stress levels within the Concordia community. As Dumoulin relates, research has shown that petting and spending time with dogs releases endorphins and lowers cortisol levels, leading to a sense of calm and relaxation.
When it comes to Newton specifically, Dumoulin says he hopes interactions with the new therapy dog will also create opportunities for students to connect with each other and with CSPS personnel. Campus Safety and Prevention has taken steps to become more caring in its approach and image as a part of the ongoing discussion about how to better relate to and collaborate with the Concordia community, in light of recommendations from the President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism Final Report.
The adjustments made to foster a sense of community and a more comprehensive understanding of safety on campus include a change of name, which will soon be seen on the agents’ new uniforms.
Newton has already been featured in a local TV spot and numerous social media posts. If you run into him on campus, feel free to snap your own photos and videos and tag him on Instagram @newtoncusafety, where you can also follow his adventures on and off campus.
Learn more about Concordia’s Campus Safety and Prevention Services.