“There’s nothing like a dog,” said Joy Phillips as she and her dog Biscuit interacted with a group of students in the Bowld lobby on Wednesday afternoon.
She sat on the couch and stroked Biscuit as a group of students huddled around them and gave Biscuit all the attention and love they possibly could. Smiles would spread across student’s faces as soon as they saw the big, white, fluffy dog that was sitting in the corner just waiting on someone else to stop by.
Biscuit is a therapy dog in training that is going to be coming to the Bowld for “Woofin’ Wednesdays” throughout this semester. He is owned by Joy and her husband, Dr. Ben Phillips, the associate dean for education in the College of Education and Human Studies here at Union.
Joy said that Biscuit is really like a “best friend.” Joy has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and hopes that one day Biscuit will be able to join her in a classroom setting. This was one of the initial reasons they decided to certify Biscuit as a therapy dog, but until his training is complete, they plan to visit with students and others who are in need in the Jackson area.
Biscuit was dropped by someone before being adopted by the Phillips family. One of his front legs was damaged by the drop, and as he began to grow it became very serious problem. He was taken to the Mississippi State University Veterinary school 15 times because of the type of injury he had. It took several advanced and experimental surgeries to fix the problem, but now Biscuit is doing much better, and can help others who are need of a little tender, loving care.
“He’s really helped teach our kids perseverance,” Joy said.
Biscuit offers others a unique opportunity, because he too has had to fight some pretty serious battles, but he overcame them and is now helping others to do the same.
“Woofin’ Wednesdays” was started by Counseling Services last spring to bring a little light into the lives of students.
Counselor Mary Lawson Day is the one who started the program after realizing that one of things students missed most from home was the family pet and the affection they gave. She said that she thought it “would be such a concrete thing we could offer our students, that physical contact and that opportunity to be around animals.”
She did a lot of research and after speaking with her colleagues, she began to implement the program. The first teams to come were out of Memphis, but when they were unable to continue coming, she heard about Joy and Biscuit and thought that they would be the perfect fit for our campus. She said that it is really proving to be a huge help to students, not just on our campus, but on campuses all over the United States.
Photo by Melanie Davis