Today: May 29, 2024

K-9 Jules’ Birthday Party

Jaylen CarrSports Editor

On the Adanti Student Center Plaza Level, the universities police department hosted a birthday party dubbed “Lets Pawty” for Jules the K-9’s third birthday, full of self-care and entertaining activities.  

“Originally, it was going to be just a birthday party,” Cynthia Torres, police Sgt. of the university, said. “There are five dogs from the same liter that made it to the service dog level, which is unheard of.” 

Sgt. Torres said they wanted to get all of them together and honor that.  

Samira Zuniga, a graduate student and intern at the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development, said, “I came here today to support our birthday boy, Jules. He always stops by the office and brightens ups our day.” 

Sgt. Torres said they had no budget for this event but had an overwhelming about volunteers wanting to help with the event.  

During the event, there were stations for those in attendance to meet the dogs, play games and win prizes. The stations involved chair massages, a puppy kissing booth and art therapy.  

Zuniga ran a station that involved creating a toy for dogs using old t-shirts.  

“We use old shirts and cut them up, Zuniga said. “You choose three strands of shirts and bread them in a similar way as you would to your hair.” 

Zuniga said she had done this do-it-yourself craft for her dog, which he loves.  

Jennifer Calabro, a guest that Sgt. Torres, brought in to manage one of the stations, was the one who came up with the “self-care” name for the event.  

“I am a creator and I create a lot of my own talent,” Calabro said. “I am a huge component for self-care.” 

Calabro said when Sgt. Torres approached her about the event; she thought it would be a great event that included the purpose of service dogs.  

“What’s a better way to bring the two together — service dogs and policing and mental health,” Calabro said.  

Sgt. Torres said Jules helps those who go through trauma or violence and provides comfort.  

“Our mission as handlers for service dogs is overall health,” Sgt. Torres said. “The biggest part of that is mental health, and that is the area we work in.” 

As a self-care expert, Calabro said getting involved with the arts can be a great self-care tool. “Healing comes in many different forms; It’s just not one way to feel.” 

Sgt. Torres said Jules is her dog outside of the job, and he knows about 100 commands and helps her around the house with other things.   

“He definitely helps with anxiety,” Torres said. “I’m a survivor myself—domestic violence, and he is not necessarily just for me but for the whole university community.”  

Torres said Jules offers officer wellness when he sits in the police station at the university.  

“We have Brody, the yellow Labrador who used to be an explosives and ordinance dog,” Torres said. “We have transitioned him to being an emotional support and therapy dog.” 

Torres said Connecticut has been lucky to have these types of dogs because the dogs are donated for free to the university.  

Jules’s experience being raised in prison helps him recognize human feelings like sadness and depression, Torres said. “When I am interviewing somebody that expressed trauma or violence, for the policing compacity, if someone is receptive to it, we would have Jules in the room, and it brings the whole tonnage down, and it’s helpful for all of us.” 

Students came to the event to help support the event and take part in the many festivities.  

Biology major Alyssa Morales, a junior, said she attended the event because she has always loved dogs. 
“I really just want to play with dogs,” Morales said. “The environment is happy and welcoming, and I think it’s really nice that Southern is having this event.” 

Nursing major Sean Qian, a freshman, said he was hanging around the student center and saw the event organizers prepping for the event and thought it would be great because he loves dogs.  

 “We have a foundation account that is the big announcement today,” Torres said. Looking to the future, we would love to see enough money in the account to pay for the dog food and vet visits.” 

Torres said they pay it forward by giving back to the community by purchasing a student’s books or helping students that want to become first responders.  

Cupcake from the event | Luke Molwitz

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