Therapy dogs visit dorm residents

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Erin McClellan
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
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.