SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — “Paws and reflect.”

That’s what the University of Rhode Island (URI) hopes students, faculty and staff will do once they meet the new therapy dog on campus.

Basil, an English Labrador puppy, made her first appearance on campus back in September and is based in the Psychological Counseling Center on campus.

Director Lindsey Anderson, who’s also Basil’s handler, said she’s always on the lookout for new ways to help students, faculty, staff and outside clients manage stress.

Anderson said she began researching therapy dogs after learning about a New Hampshire breeder that donated a puppy to the East Providence Police Department.

“The goal is really to get animals into spaces where they are most needed, and there is no greater need than on college campuses” Anderson said. “So far, everyone who has interacted with her is smitten.”

Basil’s impact on campus was almost immediate, according to Anderson, who recalled the moment she first pulled the puppy out of her car as a faculty member was walking by.

“She started crying and said ‘this has been the worst morning,’ and she was so grateful to pet Basil,” Anderson said. “We hadn’t even made it in the door on day one and she was already doing what she’s here to do.”

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“It is simply about the connection,” she added. “For people who are feeling heightened emotions in a particular moment, or in a lot of distress, it’s simply that connection to a calm animal that helps to bring down the emotional intensity and regulate some of the physiological responses that come from heightened anxiety and heightened stress.”

Anderson and Basil frequently take walks around campus, which she said gives students, faculty and staff plenty of opportunities to interact with her.

“We take her out to go to the bathroom or to walk, and it can take an hour, the students are so happy to see her,” Anderson said. “I knew she would be a hit, but I had no anticipation how great the need was here.”

“There are students who become tearful saying how they miss their dogs and how happy they are to pet her,” she continued. “There’s just something about slowing down, and petting an animal who’s calm and who licks you and wants to be around you.”

Basil was donated to URI by Boonefield Labradors. She is one of 11 English Labradors that the breeding program has donated to police departments, schools, funeral homes and clinics throughout New England.

“Basil doesn’t bark, and she doesn’t make a lot of fast, sudden movements, which is consistent with the breed,” Anderson said. “That has been really helpful in therapy. She’s just been a joy.”