Closer Look

Loyola’s New Best Friend


He’s a 5 ½-year-old black Labrador Retriever who has gone from being rescued to being a hot commodity on campus as Loyola’s first-ever therapy dog. His name is Tivo.

Joan Holden, Tivo’s original handler, is impressed by his success at Loyola.

“Whenever I take him across campus, I’m always amazed at the number of students that know his name,” Holden said.  “When I first got him, of course nobody knew who he was, but [now] he has his own Facebook page, he tweets and people follow him. On the ‘Talk with Tivo’ sessions that he does throughout campus, there are students that put it in their calendar.”

As an unofficial staff member at Loyola, Tivo quite possibly has a busier schedule than most students. In fact, he even has his own staff ID card. He starts the day at 8:30 a.m. at the Wellness Center where he socializes with the staff, works with individuals and groups as a thera py treatment, and greets patients in the waiting room.

In addition, he is the center of a program during the week called Talk with Tivo, in which he visits one building on campus for an hour each day to say hello to the Loyola community. He ends his days and spends his weekends in Campion Hall, where he lives  with the Rev. Justin Daffron, S.J.

Animal therapy is a growing norm in academic institutions all over the United States, including Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. More and more studies are showing that dogs provide effective therapy through various means, such as stress relief, companionship and making for lighthearted fun during a stressful school day.

Holden explained her motivation behind this idea and her stance on animal therapy on Loyola’s campus.

“People feel good when they’re around dogs in general and I think they get comfort by being around Tivo,” she said.

Tivo was initially part of a family that owned him for 5 years, but after a death in the family, Tivo needed a new home. TOPS, a canine training organization in Grayslake, Illinois found the perfect place for him. They called Joan Holden, who agreed to be Tivo’s handler for additional training at TOPS.

Examples of tasks he had to perfect include greeting complete strangers, sitting politely for petting, allowing to be groomed, reacting well to distractions, walking through a crowd and being able to walk past food without being distracted. Tivo has had a number of various handlers and training programs since then, including home schooling under the care of a family. Because of his extensive training, Tivo was able to pass the therapy dog international training test and be with us today.

Aside from his professional duties, Tivo loves friends, walking and ball fetching – something many students can attest to.

“He’s athletic — he can swim, retrieve a ball like no one’s business — he’s also very intelligent and loves the beach,” Holden said.

If you are ever missing your precious pet back home or you simply need some animal attention, consider visiting Loyola’s new best friend.


“Talk With Tivo”



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