Meet Boomer and Tobin, the therapy dogs partnering with Prevention and Wellness


Riley Hazel, Assignments and Features Editor

This past Wednesday Prevention and Wellness hosted their weekly Healthy Hump Day event in front of Howard Hall. The stars of the event were Boomer, 2, and Tobin, 4, a pair of Great Pyrenees.

Mikayla Rivera, a Peer Educator for Prevention and Wellness, explained that Tobin and Boomer absorb a person’s negative energy and provide a friendly face to pet.

A typical day’s work for Boomer and Tobin is full of hugs and snuggles as the dogs provide comfort and relief to students and faculty who are having a difficult week.

Gary Gambrell, the dog’s owner, has had the pair for about six months and has started to transition them to larger events. Boomer loves the attention from students, according to Gambrell.

“It’s a fun surprise especially on Wednesdays,” said Megan Foley, a senior at FGCU. “No one really likes Wednesdays.”

Tobin and Boomer both received their national therapy dog certification from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, an international registry that provides testing, registration and support for participants. Gambrell said this process took around three months.

Foley was an FGCU student when Samson, a different therapy dog, was on campus.

“I’m happy this service is back,” said Foley. “I remember Samson, and he would absolutely make my day.”

Samson was a Great Pyrenees like Tobin and Boomer; the breed is characterized by a heavy, white coat and affectionate personality.

Great Pyrenees are traditionally working dogs, bred to protect sheep from wolves and other predators throughout the Pyrenees mountains, from which the breed gets its name. While any animal can become a therapy animal if given the correct training, this generosity to look after others is what makes Great Pyrenees such a great match for therapy services.

“They can be a little Dachshund and be a therapy dog,” said Gambrell. “They can be a giant Irish Wolfhound and be a therapy dog. Breeds don’t matter. It’s starting off with the correct attitude that matters.”

Students and faculty can find Boomer and Tobin on campus every Wednesday from 11-1 pm at the Healthy Hump Day table in front of Howard Hall.