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UI Police Department names new therapy dog

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

By: Anthony Pasquale

The University of Illinois' Police Department has a new therapy dog, and it finally has a name. The newest therapy canine has been named Kirby.

The University of Illinois' student government submitted four options for the puppy's name, and Kirby gained over 50-percent of the voting that contained over 1,000 ballots. Kirby is just a seven month old Samoyed, and is named after the popular street on campus that features State Farm Center, Memorial Stadium and is a staple of the area.

“I think it’s very important to have part of our community, which is the new therapy dog, be part of the campus community,” said University Police Chief Alice Cary. “And taking ownership of that name is something that kind of connects our agency with the students.”

Kirby joins Archie, Lollipop, Rosie and Winston as the University's Police Department's therapy canines. These therapy canines are used by the University Police Department in outreach efforts and to help mental health.

“He is very easy to love on,” said University Police Detective and graduate of Illinois Tara Hurless about Kirby. “We’re working on sitting, shaking, laying down. I’d love to teach him to hug. He’s still young; I think he’s still got a lot of learning to do. But he’s got a great personality to interact with.”

Since Kirby is still so young, it is likely that training to fully become a therapy dog will not be complete until the Fall 2022 semester. However, students can expect to see Kirby with some of the other therapy dogs at various outreach efforts this semester.

"Students oftentimes experience stress during midterms or final exams, and all the pressures that are associated with being a student," Cary said. "The dogs bring in a comforting atmosphere.”

And now, Kirby will be a part of it. You can see our interview with his handler Tara Hurless and Kirby right here.

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