Medical Alum Returns as Therapy Dog Handler

Med students petting therapy dog
Students draw comfort from Tenley, Dr. Karen Obadowski's therapy dog, at the UConn Health Sciences Library. (Photo by Kristin Wallace)

If you think therapy dogs are coming to UConn Health with some regularity, you’re right: “Doggo Friday” has become a weekly event at the UConn Health Sciences Library.

Most weeks, a different therapy dog will spend an hour in the library, offering companionship to anyone who could use a few minutes with a furry friend.

Dr. Karen Obadowski with her Cavalier King Charles spaniel on her lap in the Health Sciences Library
Dr. Karen Obadowski ’77 MD occasionally returns to campus with Tenley, her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, to offer comfort during UConn Health’s “Doggo Friday” events. (Photo by Kristin Wallace)

One of them is Tenley, a 3-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, who accompanies Dr. Karen Obadowski, formerly Karen Magnuson, a 1977 graduate of the UConn School of Medicine and former UConn internal medicine resident.

The recently retired physician has been doing pet therapy for the last 20 years, starting “before it was considered to have benefits to it,” she says.

Tenley is Obadowski’s fifth therapy dog. She says she’s brought them to hospitals, nursing homes, elementary schools, and college campuses, and often finds patients or students responding to the dogs as much as they do to humans, if not more.

“It does help people of all ages,” she says. “Even though the dogs are only with them for a short period of time, when you think of their situations, just five or 10 minutes of relaxation and happiness, or distraction from what’s going on in real life, is really helpful.”

And that goes for students and residents too.

“I spent eight years at this health center,” Obadowski adds. “I had many days where I wish someone brought in a dog to visit me.”