Therapy dogs visit dorm residents

Airman Angela Alanis, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materiel management technician, interacts with a therapy dog, July 25, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Four therapy dogs and their owners from Love on a Leash visited dorm residents to increase morale. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Airman Angela Alanis, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materiel management technician, interacts with a therapy dog, July 25, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Four therapy dogs and their owners from Love on a Leash visited dorm residents to increase morale. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Airman Brandon Mena, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, takes a photo of a therapy dog July 25, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Animals can provide people with feelings of relaxation and happiness, and therapy dogs visit places where people may need that comfort. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Airman Brandon Mena, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, takes a photo of a therapy dog July 25, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Animals can provide people with feelings of relaxation and happiness, and therapy dogs visit places where people may need that comfort. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Archer, a therapy dog, lays on an Airman’s foot July 25, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Therapy dogs must go through training to become certified and be able to visit places such as schools, libraries, nursing homes and hospitals. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Archer, a therapy dog, lays on an Airman’s foot July 25, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Therapy dogs must go through training to become certified and be able to visit places such as schools, libraries, nursing homes and hospitals. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Airman Brandon Mena, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, interacts with a therapy dog July 25, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Since Airmen living in the dorms aren’t permitted to have animals, therapy dogs and their owners from Love on a Leash visited to share some puppy love. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

Airman Brandon Mena, 22nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, interacts with a therapy dog July 25, 2017, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Since Airmen living in the dorms aren’t permitted to have animals, therapy dogs and their owners from Love on a Leash visited to share some puppy love. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.— Airmen’s squeals of excitement could be heard outside the dorms as they first noticed the group of four therapy dogs that visited to provide them with some much-needed puppy love and slobbery kisses.

Teresa Eftink, 22nd Comptroller Squadron civilian payroll and dispersing officer, is a volunteer with the south-central Kansas chapter of Love on a Leash, which is a new chapter of the national non-profit organization.

The local chapter is made up of approximately 30 members. They travel with their animals to places such as schools, libraries, nursing homes and hospitals to provide comfort and happiness to those who need it. The group wanted to help people on base, and remembering Airmen’s reactions to her dog in her workplace, Eftink suggested visiting the dorms.

“I brought my dog into work a couple times when he was a puppy, and all of the Airmen, most of whom live in the dorms, loved him,” she said. “I’ve brought him to work a number of times [since then] with my boss’s permission, and when he goes down the hall, the Airmen pet him and they say, ‘Oh, we can’t have a dog in the dorms.’ So I thought we should go where the Airmen are who can’t have animals.”

Eftink coordinated with dorm management and security forces to arrange the visit, and she said she hopes to be able to do it again in the future.

“If they want us to come back, we’ll try to come back and hit some of the other shifts too,” she said. “We’ll come at different times, bring different dogs and different people.”

Many Airmen came outside to sit in the grass and play with the dogs at the event.

“I thought it was really cool to have dogs come out here,” said Airman 1st Class Brianna Onnen, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment journeyman. “I love dogs, and it gives me a little taste of home because I miss mine. I think it brings people together too; not many people don’t like dogs, and it’s a way for everyone to interact. I think they should do this more often.”

Air Force life can be stressful, but a little bit of love from an animal can go a long way toward helping relieve that stress.

“That’s what we do-- we take our dogs to places where we think it’ll help people,” Eftink said.