Sophie, the campus's emotional support dog, has been away for the first weeks of the semester. Photo courtesy of the FSC Counseling Center / David Aranda.

Gianna Cappillo | Sept. 14, 2022
Staff Writer

Florida Southern College’s canine counselor, Sophie, returned to campus on Sept. 14.

Sophie has been a member of the Student Counseling Center since the fall semester of 2020 and is cherished by the college community. But at the beginning of the semester, students took note of Sophie’s absence. Rumors spread throughout the student body that Sophie may be gone for the year, but Assistant Counseling Center Director David Aranda assures everyone that she isn’t going anywhere.

“She loves coming to campus and seeing everyone,” Aranda said. “Her days on campus will be Wednesdays and Fridays.” 

This was further confirmed by a picture on Sophie’s Instagram page @flososophie, posting a picture on Sept. 6, with the caption “Guess who gets to come to work today? #bestlifeever #ilovebeingamoc.” 

Many students commented on the post excited about her return. 

“I WILL RUN TO THE COUNSELING CENTER RIGHT NOW,” senior Natalie Leah said on Sophie’s post.

According to the American Kennel Club, therapy dogs are animals that travel with their owners to settings such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes to provide comfort, and affection to individuals looking for emotional support. While therapy dogs do not undergo the training that service animals would, they still serve an important role in improving the lives of the people around them. 

Florida Southern College’s disability services also has an Assistance Animal database that allows students to register their own emotional support animals when living on campus. These animals must serve a similar function to therapy dogs. However, the animal’s support is limited to that of their owner.

That’s why senior Max Spaid feels Sophie’s comeback is essential. 

“Having a therapy dog on campus is extremely important,” he said. “It’s really helpful. Especially because as you get further along in school, you have more academic stress and have more need to see a therapist. A therapy dog is also a great resource.”

However, Spaid didn’t know where to find this resource. 

“I also never knew when the therapy dog was around. I just heard people say there was one.”

While he does not believe the rumor about Sophie was caused by this, he does believe that it is a contributing factor. Advertising Sophie’s hours could fix this.

“I think printing out posters for communal spaces, like the cafeteria pinboard and dorms, could help,” Spaid said. “There should at least be something up in the counseling center for people to see.”

Currently, information about Sophie is only visible online. Students can visit Sophie by scheduling an appointment with Aranda at the Student Counseling Center. Her and the Counseling Center’s hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. During these visits students may sit and pet her. The counseling center asks that all guests wear a mask while inside the offices.


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