A Tribute to Wrigley the Therapy Dog (March 2007 – August 17, 2019)

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences 

I had no idea how getting a dog would impact my personal and professional life. When he was 11/2 years old, Wrigley, a friendly, fluffy white German Shepherd, became a certified therapy dog. As I witnessed the impact his visits had on different groups of people, scientific curiosity led to my developing a class on Animal-Assisted Therapy, which I taught for 10 years in the University Honors program as Honors FYE 1220. 

For service-learning, students paired with Wrigley and myself (and other certified therapy dogs and their handlers) for on-site visits to hospitals, the local library’s “Reading to Rover” program, nursing homes, Special Olympics and the Georgia Southern Child Development Center. Some of the benefits of therapy dogs include providing non-judgmental support, anxiety relief, promotion of communication and socialization, and physiological benefits. Statesboro Therapy Dogs also provided stress relief for students during final exam week, and were on hand to provide solace and comfort during the memorial service for the nursing students who lost their lives in a wreck on I-16. 

In addition, Wrigley played a role in an alternative spring break trip with Georgia Southern students (led by myself and Dr. Brent Wolfe) working with adults with disabilities. After seven years of being the Camp Blue Skies therapy dog, Wrigley was not up to making the trip the last two years. Repeat campers still ask about Wrigley and will be saddened to hear that he has passed away. 

My relationship with Wrigley influenced my teaching, service and research, leading to 11 national and international conference presentations and one refereed journal publication (six honors students who took the AAT class were involved in this research). Thank you, Wrigley, for your service, for touching countless lives, and for giving me and my family 12-plus years of your gentle, loving presence. 

— Jerri J. Kropp, Ph.D., CCLS, Associate Professor of Child and Family Development, School of Human Ecology