Will Work for Tail Scratches
Photo: Anna Olsztynska

Will Work for Tail Scratches

By Marcia Faye

Most days of the year, Grover, a 7-year-old black bassador (Labrador retriever-basset hound mix), spends his time romping around on a 10-acre farm in Peotone, Illinois, with his extended family of horses, donkeys, cows, goats, laying chickens, a turkey, a pony, and five other dogs. As Illinois Institute of Technology’s therapy dog, Grover began his position in 2019 and is certified by the national nonprofit animal-assisted intervention organization Pet Partners. He also earned the Canine Good Citizen designation from the American Kennel Club. As such, Grover visits with students, faculty, and staff as a doggy-do-gooder through the Office of Student Life and the Student Health and Wellness Center. For example, Grover helped an Illinois Tech student who was terrified of dogs. 

“By the end of the session, she was really petting him and giving him treats,” says Cindy Chaffee, Illinois Tech’s director of environmental health and safety, and Grover’s owner. “He even laid on his side, keeping his head down, to show her a submissive position. Later, when we saw the student on campus, she would come by to say hi to him. That was a big turnaround for her.”

Before the pandemic altered life on Mies Campus, Chaffee brought Grover to Illinois Tech twice per week and more often during finals. Students were not his only fans. 

“I started bringing in Grover for the students, but what I noticed is that the staff and faculty really appreciate it,” says Chaffee, noting that she hopes that Grover will have regular “office hours” in the fall. “They ask for him as much as the students do.”