Loyola’s beloved first on-campus therapy dog, Tivo, is retiring after five years of service.
The 10-year-old black labrador retriever has served as Loyola’s therapy dog since August 2012, according to the Wellness Center website. He worked with groups and individuals dealing with stress, anxiety and other issues and was on campus regularly to visit with students.
Tivo stepped down from his role earlier this summer.
The Wellness Center decided to retire the therapy dog because he was slowing down during the spring semester, according to Interim Director of the Wellness Center Joan Holden. Holden said Tivo, who has arthritis, sometimes struggled to move around.
“He has a hard time standing up sometimes,” said Holden. “His arthritis bothers him so much. His joints are sore, [and] the medications help, but we just felt that he was ready [to retire].”
Whether students saw him at the Wellness Center, walking around campus or at one of his weekly Talk With Tivo sessions — where students could visit with him while passing through the Damen Student Center or Klarchek Information Commons — Tivo brought a smile to many faces.
Rising junior Katrina Nicdao said she thought Tivo was beneficial to students as they transitioned into Loyola.
“I hope that wherever his next adventure in life leads him, he’ll be happy,” said the 20-year-old marketing major. “Tivo’s brought community to us, especially [to] freshmen moving away from home and being new to the college experience.”
Shamal Shahzad, 19, a Spanish major, said Tivo was always there for her after classes.
“Every single week, he would be in [the Damen Student Center] right after I was done with [chemistry] lab, which was usually a very stressful experience for me,” said the rising sophomore. “I would run on over right to Damen and I would sit down with him and I just put my hand out and he would put his head in it and just rest it there. It was such a great destressing experience.”
Michael Escuesta, 21, said he was saddened by the announcement. The rising junior said he enjoyed seeing Tivo on campus and the sense of community he brought to people.
“When you’re with a therapy dog, everyone is able to relate to it, and everybody is able to sort of forget prejudices or anything,” said the psychology major. “People just act natural around a dog [and] just want to pet it, and love it and be happier around it.”
Tivo was placed with Loyola through the TOPS canine training facility in Grayslake. He originally lived with a family, The PHOENIX previously reported.
The university owns Tivo, and he has lived with members of the Loyola community.
Tivo first lived with the Rev. Justin Daffron, S.J., in Campion Hall. After Daffron left the university, Tivo moved in with Holden’s family in the suburbs, The PHOENIX previously reported.
Tivo will continue to live with Holden. She said he will come to work with her, but he will not be serving students as a therapy dog. Holden said she is proud of Tivo’s work.
“I’m just so thrilled that Tivo could mean so much to so many people over the years,” said Holden. “It was [the] first time that Loyola had ever had a therapy dog, and the success of this program has just been really, really astounding … I’m so happy he could impact so many students.”
A retirement fund was set up by Loyola’s Department of Annual Giving to help with Tivo’s care, according to the department’s director, Stephanie Marchi. The fund’s goal is $3,000, and it garnered more than $800 as of July 28. Some donors pledged up to $100 for Tivo’s retirement.
Sarah Seibt, 25, graduated from Loyola in 2014 and got to see Tivo during the second half of her college experience. Seibt said witnessing the positive impact Tivo had and her love for animals drove her to contribute $20 to his fund.
“I know a lot of people that I went to school with benefitted from having Tivo around,” said Seibt. “A lot of us, we have pets that we left at home, so it was nice to have a pet on campus that you could reach out to and pet. When I saw that they were looking to have a little nest egg for his retirement, I was more than happy to donate some money.”
Holden said the Wellness Center plans to continue its therapy dog program and is in contact with TOPS.